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The Conceptual Difference Between the Twitter Retweet and Share Buttons

Twitter's interface abounds in Jewish philosophy, says Yonatan Gordon
Illustrative: A Twitter app on an iPhone screen. (AP/Richard Drew/File)
Illustrative: A Twitter app on an iPhone screen. (AP/Richard Drew/File)

Like the previous article about Jewish Twitter Week, the content that follows also began as tweets. This time, these short meditations were written for Eli Langer of CNBC after reading his article, “Twitter tests tweak of iconic ‘Retweet’ button”.


The “retweet” is like copying the message from the world of the author to the next world. Reminds us of the origin of all thoughts and ideas.

But to share is experiential, communal. People share to further the semblance of a connected community, and ultimately, to benefit the world.

To retweet button is a recognition of the original light of the idea, and the attempt to copy or spread that light further down throughout the world.

But to share is the opposite direction (down-up). We see the world as it is at present, and would like to make it a more empathetic place.

Copying (what we conceptually related to retweeting) refers to a deep concept in Kabbalah called atik – to copy higher worlds into lower worlds as explained here:

A sofer also means a scribe, someone who actually writes the written Torah, tefilin, or mezuzot. The Torah cannot be copied with a machine, because the soul has to participate in the act. In English, a scribe and a counter are very different concepts. Certainly, a scribe and an author are very different. The scribe is not the author. He just copies what was handed over to him. Actually to copy (לְהֲעַתִּיק) is another verb in Hebrew, from which stems a very deep concept in Kabbalah called atik (עַתִּיק), the highest and deepest part of the super-rational crown. It is so named because it has the capacity to copy higher worlds onto lower worlds.

Since to “share” is future-minded, this is why Twitter was attracted to it. But to “retweet” relates to a higher concept. Hence the debate.

Photo Credit: Based on CC-BY-SA from CTSI-Global on Flickr.


About the Author
Yonatan Gordon is a student of Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and co-founder of
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