This Gemara describes a predicament of someone who was reading from a scroll on a roof and one end dropped out of his hand and fell over the edge.
Without getting deep into the halakhic issues involved I want to take a moment to focus on the function and history of a Sefer or a scroll.
In colloquial Hebrew we translate Sefer to mean book. As we recited recently during the High High Holidays:
וְתִפְתַּח אֶת סֵפֶר הַזִּכְרוֹנוֹת וּמֵאֵלָיו יִקָּרֵא וְחוֹתָם יַד כָּל אָדָם בּוֹ
You open the book of records, and from it, all shall be read. In it lies each person's insignia.
But actually it is not the BOOK of records, book of Life etc., it is the SCROLL of Records, Scroll of Life. The modern form of a book or codex was only invented in the Middle Ages
“between the 2nd and 4th centuries, the scroll was replaced by the codex. The book was no longer a continuous roll, but a collection of sheets attached at the back. It became possible to access a precise point in the text quickly.” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_books )
Why does this matter? Because significant advances in technology often bring drastic change with benefits and losses. Think about how the Internet and Smartphones have impacted culture and society.
Books are cheaper and more accessible than scrolls, at the very least you now can have print on both sides of the page. Furthermore, if you wanted to find something in a scroll you’d have to roll all the way forward or all the way backwards just like when we want to find a Parasha during keriyas HaTorah in Shul. But if you want to find something in a book, you can flip the pages easily.
What is a psychological and social impact of cheaper and faster access of information? Exactly what’s happening now: The less scholarly common people are getting more rapid access to information leading to the democratization of information. On the one hand, this is a good thing as people can become more intelligent and aware. On the other hand, this can be a disruptive force to the homeostasis of society, because the scholars and leaders who hold the power through knowledge now become destabilized. This can lead to unrest, social disorder, revolution, but also productive change.
A Similar technological revolution occurred when the printing press was invented and made the Bible cheaply accessible to the masses. Many historians attribute this single technological advance as the cause for the Protestant Revolution. The Catholic hierarchy could no longer withhold information about what was printed in the Bible and selectively quote self-serving texts as now everybody was more literate and able to read it for themselves and question some of their conclusions.
Right now this is occurring within our religious world. It used to be only great sages with access to Extensive personal libraries as well as oral traditions from their masters had could wield authority with there unquestionable expertise in the ins and outs of the vast sea of Talmudic and responsa literature. Nowadays, a wealth of rabbinic material is available in English, new manuscripts get posted daily, with access the images of rare books and searchable databases.
Just yesterday, in our discussion about the previous daf, it was noted that at least some women in history wore tefilin. Once an obscure fact now can be discovered by a 12 year old bas mitzvah girl with a few keystrokes. And my friends, that is exactly why the paradigm needs to shift and that rabbinic experts in Jewish law Can no longer afford to condescend or hide information. Rather, meaningful explanations and discussions of difficult topics must ensue. Because if you try to cover up the facts, they’ll be discovered anyway and the sense of betrayal will be stronger.
Basically, you either understand and learn from history, or you become history as an a relic of the past.
So, does G-d look at the Scroll of Remembrance or the Book of Remembrance? If you would insist that G-d updated his technology from scroll to book, well then we probably now have the Mainframe of Remembrance! May we all be inscribed in the mainframe of life!
Translations Courtesy of Sefaria