Time and Space as Emergent Phenomena — Abstract

The current Torah portion Beshalach tells about the splitting of the Sea of Reeds. As I discussed in my essay, “Collapse and Revelation,” the splitting of the sea is a metaphor for the collapse of the wave function in quantum mechanics. The Alter Rebbe, the Baal HaTanya, taught us to leiben min hatzait (“to live with the time,” that is, to leave with the current reading of the Torah). Maybe this is why, this week, when we read in the Torah portion Beshalach about the splitting of the sea, I finally understood where time comes from. This question haunted me for more than forty years. Finally, this week, I got it—time emerges through the interaction of consciousness with the universal wave function, causing the sequence of wave function collapses that we perceive as [...]

The Fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz as a Manifestation of Breaking of the Vessels of Tohu

Today, on the Seventeenth of Tammuz, Jewish people fast to commemorate several tragic events in Jewish history.[1] These tragic events include the breaking of the Tablets (Luchot) and the breach of the walls of Jerusalem twice—during the First and the Second Temple.[2] It seems that the confluence of these destructive events is not coincidental—all three are manifestations of the spiritual process called in Lurianic Kabbalah, Shevirat HaKelim (the “Breaking of the Vessels”).[3] Many readers may be surprised by the juxtaposition of historical events that happened in this physical world with primordial events that took place in another universe—Olam HaTohu (the “universe of Chaos”)[4] that preceded the creation of our universe—Olam HaTikkun (the “universe of Rectification”)[5] Indeed, how can something that happened before the creation of our universe can affect historical events in this [...]

Translating the Torah for Future Generations

The limits of my language mean the limits of my world. Ludwig Wittgenstein On Rosh Chodesh (the New Moon of the Hebrew month of) Sh’vat, some three and a half millennia ago, Moses started translating the Torah into seventy languages. This was one of the last things Moses did—the pinnacle of his life of service to G‑d and the Jewish nation. Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, took Moses upon him to expound this law, saying… Deuteronomy 1:5 Rashi, the classical Biblical commentator, quotes Midrash Tanchuma on this verse, explaining: “to expound this law: He expounded it to them in seventy languages.”[1] (“This law” refers to the Torah in general.) Later, Moses commands the elders to collect large stones: And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this [...]

Fill the Earth

And G‑d created man in His own image, in the image of G‑d created He him; male and female created He them. And G‑d blessed them; and G‑d said unto them: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it . . . .Genesis 1:28 G‑d created man, male and female, and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue or conquer it. While the literal meaning of this verse is apparent—fill the earth with your progeny by procreating[1]—it begs a question. Specifically, the phrase “fill the earth” seems superfluous—wasn’t it enough to say “Be fruitful and multiply”? Indeed, the Hebrew word milupim[2] (“to multiply”) is etymologically related to the word mil’u[3] (“to fill”).[4] If humans were to multiply, as commanded by G‑d, they would naturally fill the earth. It seems [...]

The Cosmological Problem of Initial Conditions and the Universe of Tohu

Now the earth was unformed and void.Genesis 1:2 We have a big problem in cosmology: the problem of the initial conditions of the universe at the time of the Big Bang.[1] Before we can explain this problem, however, we need to review some basic concepts of thermodynamics. Thermodynamics developed by Boltzmann and others[2] described the behavior of gases and liquids and the transfer of heat. A key concept in thermodynamics is entropy. Entropy is a measure of disorder, of chaos. The second law of thermodynamics states that in an isolated system, entropy always increases with time. The second law of thermodynamics explains universal decay. And entropy is the measure of that decay.[3] Shining stars produce entropy. Stars collapsing into black holes produce entropy. Evaporating black holes produce entropy.[4] Entropy is increasing in the universe.[5] Let us [...]

A Wheel Within a Wheel

Now as I beheld the Chayot [living creatures], behold one Ophan [wheel] at the bottom hard by the living creatures, at the four faces thereof. The appearance of the Ophanim [wheels] and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl; and they four had one likeness; and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel within a wheel. . . . As for their rings, they were high and they were dreadful; and they four had their rings full of eyes round about. Ezekiel 1:15–18 One of the most difficult theological questions is how Eternal G‑d relates to the world created by Him, the world that is always in flux. Indeed, the prophet Malachi says in the name of G‑d: For I the Eternal change not.Malachi 3:6 G‑d does [...]

Jacob and Esau—Thermodynamics of Order and Chaos

And these are the chronicles of Isaac… (Genesis 25:19) So Esau went unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives that he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife. (Genesis 28:9)   This Torah portion is called Toledot. In Hebrew, toledot means “generations” or “chronicles.” Indeed, this Torah portion starts with the phrase, “These are the chronicles of Isaac.” This is not the first or the last time this word appears in Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures). It appears for the first time in the opening verse of chapter 2 of Genesis: These are the chronicles of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Eternal G‑d made earth and heaven. (Genesis 2:4) The second time it appears in [...]

Let There Be Light

And G‑d said: “Let there be light.” And there was light. And G‑d saw the light, that it was good; and G‑d separated between the light and between the darkness. And G‑d called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:3-5)   This short passage from Genesis presents several difficulties that many classical commentators struggle to address. The first problem has to do with darkness and the separation of light from darkness. As we know today, darkness is not a substance—it is merely the absence of light. The verse states that G‑d separated between the light and the darkness. Presumably, before this “separation,” the light and the darkness existed together. How is this possible? By definition, the presence of light [...]




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