Cloning & Immortality
In the various life choices I’ve made – career, family, etc – I notice one common denominator: I am on a quest for immortality. I want to leave a legacy. Wouldn’t it simply solve this existential problem by cloning myself?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
To compensate for the impermanence of flesh, the Pharaohs built pyramids, the Emperors built Rome, and Donald Trump built skyscrapers. To some, cloning is a way to manufacture a living monument by leaving a genetic copy of oneself; a way to achieve "immortality" long after one is gone.
However, true immortality involves more than making a younger genetic copy of oneself. Are we nothing more than "flesh-and-bone computers," living to eat and propagate?
No! In a "down-to-earth" sense, we achieve immortality through the performance of good deeds. By influencing others in positive Torah values, they carry on our legacy long after we're gone. If someone built a school for needy children, that would inspire others to do the same. (Besides of course the positive effects of that initial school which will be felt for generations to come.)
Every human being is created in the image of God. Therefore God is our role model. As the Talmud (Shabbat 133b) says, "Just as He is Merciful, so you be merciful; and just as He is Kind, so you be kind." Becoming more Godly is the greatest level a human being can achieve. In this way, Judaism already has a concept of cloning: we try to clone ourselves after the Almighty!
By becoming more God-like and refining our souls, we also achieve immortality. As we perform mitzvahs which focus us on becoming more spiritual beings, this heightens the soul's awareness – which is invaluable for when we die and go to the eternal world of souls. From a Jewish perspective, that’s a far better focus for our energies.