The Mystery of the Eighth Day

And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Leviticus 12:3 In the Torah portion of Tazria, we are commanded to circumcise a male child on the eighth day. In the previous Torah portion, Shemini, we read that the dedication of the Tabernacle (Mishkan) also took eight days, and only on the eighth day the Shechinah (“divine presence”) rested on it. What is the significance of the eighth day? Chasidic philosophy interprets the eighth day as the day after seven days. In numerous writings (ma’amarim) and talks (siḥot), the Rebbes of Chabad stated that seven days represent nature, whereas the eighth day is a day above nature.[1] The eighth day represents the supernatural. Why, you may ask, do the seven days represent nature? We are told that the number [...]

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 [...]

Principle of Least Action III — History

The spectacle of the universe becomes so much the grander, so much more beautiful, the worthier of its Author, when one knows that a small number of laws, most wisely established, suffice for all movements. Pierre Louis Maupertuis (1744) Among the more or less general laws, the discovery of which characterize the development of physical science during the last century, the principle of Least Action is at present certainly one which, by its form and comprehensiveness, may be said to have approached most closely to the ideal aim of theoretical inquiry. Its significance, properly understood, extends, not only to mechanical processes, but also to thermal and electrodynamic problems. In all the branches of science to which it applies, it gives, not only an explanation of certain characteristics of phenomena at present encountered, but [...]

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

Metaphysics of Time in the Eyes of Philosophy and Kabbalah

A-Series and B-Series as Zman and Seder HaZmanim McTaggart’s series A and series B are two conceptual frameworks proposed by the philosopher J.M.E. McTaggart[1] to analyze the nature of time and its relationship to temporal properties such as past, present, and future. J. M. E. McTaggart, by Walter Stoneman, 1917 In McTaggart’s series A, also known as the “A-series” or the “temporal series,” time is understood in terms of the temporal properties of past, present, and future. The A-series categorizes events based on their temporal relations, such as past, present, and future, which are considered essential aspects of events. The A-series views time as a succession of moments where events move from the future, through the present, and into the past. It emphasizes the dynamic and changing nature of time, with events shifting their [...]

By |2023-07-24T10:13:23-04:00July 21st, 2023|Time, Uncategorized|1 Comment

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 [...]

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 [...]

Sanctuaries in Space and Time

We are quite familiar with space—we move freely in space back and forth; we concur space on land and beyond; we reclaim land from sea; we turn deserts into gardens; we turn desolated space into sprawling cities. We are, on the other hand, helpless in the face of time. We cannot move freely in time. We can’t move back in time. We are swept forward in the inexorable flow of time. We do not understand time; we cannot change it. We are masters of land, but not of time. It is for this reason, when G‑d instructed Moses how to build a sanctuary for Himself, He could not have started with time—we would have not the faintest idea what it meant—a sanctuary of G‑d in time—let alone how to do it. That is why G‑d started with space, instructing Moses how to build the Mishkan—a Sanctuary in space—first. Only then He commanded Moses about Shabbat.




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