Weekly Torah portion

Gazing at the Shekhinah

In his commentary on this week’s Torah Portion, Yitro, Rabbi Chayim Vital, writing in the name of his teacher, the Ari-zal, states that Abel was punished for gazing at the Shekhinah—the divine presence.[1] But what relevance does this have to the Torah portion retelling the greatest event in Jewish history (and, indeed, the history of human civilization)—the Sinaitic epiphany—the giving of the Torah? This is the Torah portion, where we read the Ten Commandments. What is the relevance of the sin of Abel to the Ten Commandments? More generally, what is Abel’s connection to this Torah portion? That is easy to understand. The Torah portion Yitro starts with the story of Jethro (Yitro), Moses’s father-in-law, coming to Moses in the Sinai desert with his daughter—the wife of Moses—and her two children. Rabbi Chayim [...]

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 [...]

On Freedom of Choice, Divine Providence, and the Hard Problem of Philosophy

The story of Joseph and his brothers, described in the Torah portion of Vayeshev, presents many problems. Classical biblical commentators interpret the conflict between Joseph and his brothers in diametrically opposite ways. Some commentators interpret it literally—the brothers were guilty of conspiring to kill Joseph and, ultimately, selling him into slavery, for which they were held accountable.[1] In fact, the brothers admit their guilt: And they said one to another: ‘We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear. . . . Genesis 42:21 Others take the view that these events were predetermined by G‑d. Indeed, in the Covenant Between the Parts, G‑d reveals to Abraham that his descendants will be strangers in a foreign land. Furthermore, [...]

The Exclusion Principle

Like most Jewish families worldwide, last Shabbat, the conversation revolved around the situation in the Middle East and the war in Gaza. The question was, what is the end game? How will this war end after IDF destroys Hamas? The United States, no doubt, will push for the Two-State “solution.” But will such a solution be viable? My wife, Leah, ’שתחי, chimed in, “The two-state solution is not viable because the exclusion principle forbids it.” I immediately understood what she meant. It was a deep insight that captured the very essence of the problem. Leah was also trained as a physicist (in fact, we met at a physics conference). Although she specialized in biophysics, she is familiar with quantum mechanics and spoke to me in the language we both understood. What is the [...]

Israel’s Security Lapses as a Reflection of Lot Consciousness

The October 7th attack by Hamas terrorists on Israel was a double surprise. The brutality and barbarism of the attack, the unspeakable cruelty of the terrorists that stunned the civilized world, was shocking but hardly a surprise. The stunning failure of the Israeli intelligence services to anticipate the attack despite the writing on the wall was a surprise. The complete and shocking unpreparedness of the IDF, which took many hours to mount an organized response, after terrorists breached the security fence, killed many hundreds of civilians, and took many hostages, was another surprise. The Israeli intelligence was blissfully unaware of year-long preparations by Hamas and the Israeli army that was caught with its pants down, unprepared to defend Israel’s border with Gaza. The Torah describes three stages of the development of Mashiach consciousness. [...]

By |2023-11-03T11:20:50-04:00November 3rd, 2023|Bereshit, Parshah, Uncategorized, Vayeira|1 Comment

Time as a Combination of Past and Future

Philosophers struggled with the notion of time from the dawn of human civilization. Physicists of today declared the problem of time the number one problem in theoretical physics. Jewish mysticism has much to say about time.[1] Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, in the name of the Arizal, quotes a verse: בִּטְחוּ בַיהוָה עֲדֵי-עַד, כִּי בְּיָה יְהוָה צוּר עוֹלָמִים Isaiah 26:4 The standard English translation of this verse, by JPS is: Trust ye in the LORD for ever, for the LORD is GOD, an everlasting Rock. Isaiah 26:4 This is not a very good translation because it doesn't tell you what specific names of G-d are used in the pasuk. Let us spell out the names in this pasuk to see what is going on: Trust ye in Havyah (Y-H-W-H) for ever, for Kah (Y-H) is [...]

By |2023-07-31T17:43:04-04:00July 30th, 2023|Isaiah, Time, Uncategorized, Vaetchanan|1 Comment

Entrainment by the Red Heifer

And for the unclean they shall take of the ashes of the burning of the purification from sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel. Numbers 19:17 In my essay “Paradox of the Red Heifer,” I proposed a mechanism by which the ashes of the red heifer remove the impurity of death, where I analogized the procedure with resuscitation using a defibrillator.[1] In this essay, I propose an additional mechanism based on the phenomenon of entrainment, which I will explain below. Entrainment In physics and biology, entrainment refers to the synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles.[2] This concept can apply to various systems, from physical phenomena to biological rhythms. Here are a few examples: Physics. In mechanical systems, entrainment refers to the process whereby two interacting oscillating systems assume the [...]

The Standard Model

Introduction What could the Standard Model of particle physics possibly have in common with biblical accounts of the Israelites’ travels in the Sinai Desert, Kabbalistic doctrines related to the unfolding of spiritual worlds, or the arrangement of the letters in the Name of G‑d? To make connections or parallels between such unrelated concepts may sound farfetched. However, this is exactly what we are going to do in this essay. Remember that in structural analysis, we do not concern ourselves with the specifics or the nature of the objects at hand—we are interested only in the interrelationships among the objects, the high-level structure, or the storyline. So, let us not worry that particle physics speaks of subatomic particles, whereas the Torah speaks of the arrangement of Jewish tribes around the Tabernacle in the desert—topics [...]

Light Above and Light Below

Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity (STR) is broadly misunderstood by the public. In most popular science books, relativity theory is hailed for introducing relativity to physics. Whereas Newtonian physics embraces absolute space and time—the narrative goes—Einstein proved that space and time are relative. Fair enough. However, the relativity of space and time is the consequence of STR, not its first principle. The cornerstone of STR is the absolute nature of light or, more precisely, the invariance of the speed of light, which is the same (in a vacuum) in all inertial frames of reference.[1] As Tim Maudlin, a leading contemporary philosopher of physics, writes: The fundamental feature of the Special Theory is not what it makes relative but what it makes absolute. The speed of light is an invariant quantity under the transformation [...]




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