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Blurring the boundaries separating man from machine, a technology growing in popularity allows computer chips to be implanted under the skin. This may be prohibited by the Bible but one rabbi warns of a greater danger: the chips could be used as a Nazi-like tool to control the populace.
The process is relatively simple. An identifying integrated circuit device or Radio-frequency identification (RFID) transponder encased in silicate glass approximately the size of a grain of rice is implanted under the skin using a device similar to a syringe. Local anaesthetic is used during the procedure.
The use of subdermal RFID's for domestic and farm animals is widespread and some countries require them to be implanted This was first done by a physician in 1998 and was approved for use in humans by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004.
Proponents of this new technology claim a myriad of benefits. Some companies currently recommend implantation for their employees for security purposes. Locks and elevators can be paired with sensors so that only specific people can open a door. Computers can use the sensor to identify users when they log on, allowing them to access files and systems specific to them.
Using the chip as "biopayment" in place of a credit card is in the developmental stages and could lead to a cashless society. It is also feasible to create a smartgun that will only allow the owner of a gun to fire it. Theoretically, a GPS-enabled chip could one day make it possible for individuals to be physically located anywhere on the planet.
The chip can link to an external database containing vital medical information for emergency use. This would be especially useful in cases of dementia or where the patient is uncooperative. It can also be used by law enforcement agencies to identify subjects and track their movements. Both of these applications raise serious concerns about civil liberties.
In addition to concerns about privacy, hacking the chips could lead to egregious cases of identity theft. Some states have passed legislation preventing companies and organizations from requiring their members or employees to be implanted with chips.
Many Christians see a link between the chipping of humans and the Biblical Mark of the Beast prophesied in the Book of Revelation to be a future requirement for buying and selling.
Though the issue has not been formally addressed by any rabbinic body, it may be that having the chips implanted violates the Torah prohibition against numbering or counting Jews.
When you take a census of B'nei Yisrael according their enrollment, each shall pay Hashem a ransom for himself on being enrolled, that no plague may come upon them through their being enrolled. Exodus 30:12
Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a prolific end-of-days author, did not give a Halachic (Torah law) opinion but he suggested that as the chips currently operate, the Biblical prohibition may not apply. When scanned at the proper frequency, the chips respond with a unique 16-digit number which is then linked with information about the user on a separate database.
"You are not counting people or assigning them a number," Rabbi Winston told Breaking Israel News. "You are identifying the chip which was assigned a number."
Nonetheless, the rabbi warned that implanting chips posed a significant threat, one that has already caused great harm to the Jewish people.
"This has so much potential for good that it is almost inevitable that governments will want to use this," Rabbi Winston said. "They can't afford prisons and policing anymore for the expanding populations. Rather than put someone in prison, they can make it impossible to exit their home. If they identify a criminal, they can remotely shut down their car, deny them access to money and food. A lot of people will be deterred form non-compliance with the law ."
"Though this is not specifically described in any Jewish end-of-days literature, this is still a scary scenario," Winston said. "Numbering the Jews, precisely as is forbidden in the Torah, was what the Nazis did to the Jews. They needed to keep track of the Jews. If these chips had been around, the Nazis surely would have used them."
"Jews can say, 'They will never put us in concentration camps in America'. But if, God-forbid, an anti-Semitic regime takes power, they won't have to," Rabbi Winston said. "Captivity has different forms."
"People are waiting to see swastikas and camps before they raise the alarm that the government has too much control. But they don't need camps. With cities, with the urban lifestyle and dependence on technology, we are already there. It begins with forms that seem innocuous, that are just the next step in technology, the next gadget."
"I understand the necessity for this but the essential question is 'Who will be in control ?'" Winston asked. "The wisest people in society who have our best interests in mind?
Or is it someone, perhaps a government, that is only interested in their need to control society. We learned in the Holocaust that it only takes one leader who hijacks technology to destroy the world. He may not even exist today, but he could be waiting in the wings."