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We were busy being the Most Productive Democracy on Earth. But for some reason, I felt lousy.

The Pirate’s Secret

The Pirate’s Secret


I finally met up with the pirate in late spring 2042. Just when I was beginning to think he didn’t exist, he suddenly appeared before me, his 6′6″ frame towering over my cubicle on the 56th floor where I was second in charge of shipping and receiving in Shipping and Receiving.

“They tell me I’ve got something you want,” said the pirate.

He did indeed. In the year 2000, after the Y2K bug barely made a glitch in the system, the momentum that had begun with the fax machine, the cell phone and the Internet hit hyper-speed. By 2002, downloading files was instantaneous. By 2025 the personal computer became as personal as it could get, as everyone with a social security number had a hard drive installed in his or her left retina. Like the IRS scanner tattoos of 2012, the hardwiring was compulsory. Nobody made much of a stink about it, though. We were all too busy being efficient.

In 2038 we went to the seven-day workweek after Japan went to six and a half. In 2039 we went to the 24-hour workday when China-Italy-Sweden went to 22. You get the idea.

Of course, it wasn’t all work and no play for the Most Productive Democracy on Earth. Not when we had instant Internet access to 5,000 satellite channels inside our eyelids. Tons of video games including Classic Space Invaders in our frontal lobe. Even remote control with DVD Plus in our small intestines.

Star Wars 44: Another New Beginning was number one at the box office. The Lakers had won their fifth virtual championship in a row. The stock market topped 10,000,000,000. Life was good.

Yet, for some reason, I felt lousy. I was exercising and eating right. I was taking my hourly breaks for sleep and oxygen. Nothing was helping.

I searched on the Net under “empty,” “dejected” and “gloomy,” but I kept getting sites for travel agents and cola drinks. Then, when looking up how much was left in the ozone layer, a banner ad flashed inside my eyelid: Empty? Dejected? Gloomy? The pirate has the software to change your life. Click here. When I clicked, nothing happened. I thought it was just another hacker’s prank.

Then I began hearing things about the pirate and his forbidden software. Crazy, beautiful things. What he had could change everything. Bring life back to my lifeless cubicle. So I searched and I faxed and I sent e-mails and I waited. Then suddenly he was there, in the flesh, with a dime-sized CD-ROM in his outstretched hand.

“How much?” I asked.

“For something this priceless? Nothing.”

Before I could argue, he was gone.

I waited until just before sunset and downloaded the disc. I was filled with an instant sense of joy and relief. For the first time in 32 years, the phone stopped ringing. My fax stopped faxing. 5,000 screens shut down and went blank. In the candlelight I marveled at the infinite peace, the stunning silence. The smell of fresh baked bread tantalized my nose. The sound of angelic singing filled my ears. The touch of my daughter caressed my soul.

Twenty-five hours later I removed the CD-ROM, already looking forward to the next time I’d use it.

I gazed down at the disc and reread the hand-written label: Shabbat 1.0.

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phoenix xbox repair AMERICA August 10, 2012

Very good story. Nice message behind it. Reply

Anonymous lynchburg, va April 3, 2012

Love it I have read this probably 5 or 6something times now,, and everytime I reread it. I have the same reaction, I can't wait for the next Shabbos. Reply

Anonymous Camarillo, CA July 4, 2011

Computer equipment on Shabbos The comment "the halacha is that we turn off computer equipment on Shabbes" is incorrect.

The halacha is that we do not operate or touch computer equipment on Shabbos.

If it is on when Shabbos begins, then the halacha is that we leave it on until Shabbos ends, not to turn it off during Shabbos.

It may be on during Shabbos, if it was turned on before Shabbos (or went on automatically within human intervention, or was turned on by a baby or a gentile). Reply

laura June 17, 2010

brought tears to my eyes:) i love shabbos! Reply

Daniel Westminster, CO May 7, 2010

embedded hardware IRS Scanner tattoos? And nobody complained? Anyone (no matter what religion or nationality) with a decent knowledge of the Nazis tattooing ID marks on prisoners should raise a stink about such a thing. Torah forbids marking the flesh, so we shouldn't accept it. (2012? Just 2 years before they mandate it?)

Embedded hard drives? Since the halacha is that we turn off computer equipment on Shabbes I'd be curious as to how the rabbis would ever rule on such a concept. (Perhaps embedded equipment would be like pacemakers - where obviously they are kept on 24/7).

Nice story though. Pirating Shabbat - let's make more copies and start distributing! Reply

Anonymous Johannesburg May 24, 2009

my 5th time reading this! Wow, I enjoy it anew each time. When do we get more writings, Mike? Reply

Kala st petersburg, USA via July 31, 2008

purely fictional very livid imagination. Could this happen?
Maybe , but I think not because we are spiritual beings living in physical bodies. Reply

Avraham Secaucus, NJ via July 29, 2008

Simple yet awesome Power message that made me chuckle in my cube. Reply

Shea Cedarhurst, NY March 26, 2008

Like it it's nice to have something different occasionally.
Keep up the good work. Reply

Leviah Chana NY February 26, 2008

re. Rivki's comment It was not so much the "electronic shutdown" that was the main thing, it was more; just as Hashem created and then stopped on the Shabbos, the author of this story mentioned how all the moving and shaking of the regular world stopped. He mentioned "infinite peace, stunning silence," this is more than simply turning off the electronics. Sure, there is no mention if the character fulfilled the Mitvot associated with Shabbos, (perhaps here is what you are refering when you say there is so much more). The emphasis rather, I think, is on knowing and experiencing the Distinction of the "regular", mundane and the Shabbos. Reply

Carol St Petersburg, Florida February 14, 2008

Shabbos 1.0/The Pirate Secret Loved it! Reply

Rivky Goldstein January 12, 2008

this doesn't really seem to be the real essence of shabbos!! there is so much more to it then electronic shutdown and pirated software

and the storyline is a joke. as a religous lubavitch college student who works with outreach in colleges...people would laugh at this if i showed them this. Reply

Raphael hesperia, ca August 1, 2006

this was wonderful this was sooooo wonderful, imaginative, creative, and a great idea. i laughed, i cried, i showed everyone i could show this to. Reply

Dovid Travers Melbourne, Australia June 29, 2005

Shabbat 1.0 If only it were that simple to download Shabbos.
But, you know what? It is! In this little futuristic satire it really captures the essence of what Shabbos can provide... an island in time... a refuge from the hustle-and-bustle of the rat-race work-a-day week.
With a little practice we can all download/upload/run Shabbos 1.0. And who knows, after a while you will be able to upgrade to Shabbos 2.0 and later versions. Reply

D.Paley May 12, 2005

Soft, classy, tangable. thank you. Reply

R. Lin September 27, 2004

So simple, elegant. Reply

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