My neighbor recently cloned their pet dog, so that they could enjoy the dog for years after he is dead. This got me thinking – should we be doing this with our best and brightest people? I mean, why not keep the gene pool at a high level?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
Actually, it is a fallacy to think that "genetically identical" equals an identical human being. In the 1978 movie, "The Boys From Brazil," an evil scientist conspires after the war to clone Hitler, in order to raise a new generation of Nazi leaders. The movie shows that without intense indoctrination, these "junior Hitlers" may be more inclined to become house-painters than they are to become dictators.
It is very un-Jewish – and even racist – to say that the value of a human being is defined by a particular set of physical features. This philosophy is promoted by Nazi's and other White Supremacists.
Consider also the example of identical twins – who are genetically identical – but often grow up with vastly different personalities. It is a basis of Jewish thought that every individual has a unique soul. Each human has a totally unique combination of talents, skills, sensitivities and perceptions. It is that diversity which defines us as precious and "human." The Talmud says that Adam was created alone, so that each person should say, "The world was created for my sake alone." In order to fulfill one's potential, we need to discover our unique contribution to the world. In the Purim story, when Mordechai sends Esther a message asking her to go visit the king, he indicates that her very purpose for creation rests on this key moment. (see Esther 4:14)
The true greatness of a person is not their genetic make-up, but their hard work and applying those talents they have. Think Stephen Hawking, Helen Keller and others who have overcome great physical limitations to become great. It is truly something to strive for.
For more on the Jewish perspective of cloning, see www.jlaw.com/Articles/cloning.html