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.” (“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 [...]
Cartesian dualism, or mind-body dualism, formulated by the French scientist, mathematician, and philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650), holds that the body and the mind (which he equated with consciousness, or the soul) are two distinct ontological substances with nothing in common. They exist in different worlds and do not interact or communicate with each other. This position presents a serious problem—if the two have nothing in common, how can they have the causal connections they seem to have? How, for example, can the mind causally direct the body? And, vice versa, how can the body communicate sensations, such as pain, to the mind? This valid criticism proved fatal for Cartesian dualism, which has been all but relegated to the dustbin of history. The Jewish theosophical doctrine of Kabbalah takes a very different approach. It [...]
Structurally identical biblical accounts of creation, destruction, and restoration are viewed as a manifestation of dialectic triad thesis-antithesis-synthesis.
Noah’s flood was a cataclysmic event with no parallels in recorded history. All of humanity (along with flora and fauna)—except for Noah and his family (and the animals he took with him into the Ark)—was wiped off the face of the earth. Some may call this catastrophic event the Great Extinction, others, the Great Destruction, but I would call it the Great Collapse. If we focus not only on what the Torah says but also on what it tells us, we notice that the Deluge is a metaphor for the collapse of the wave function—the key concept in quantum mechanics. We often talked about the wave function collapse on this blog. However, for those who come here for the first time or feel they need a refresher, here is a very short summary [...]
To Mendel Almost three years ago, in December of 2019, I posted an essay, "The Tree of Knowledge as a Metaphor for Superposition of States and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle." The manuscript of that essay contained an addendum with a short primer on the superposition of states in quantum mechanics and quantum-mechanical treatment of the primordial sin. It expressed the ideas of Maimonides about primordial sin in precise mathematical formulas proving the exact parallel between the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and a quantum eraser. Realizing that only people familiar with the formalism of quantum mechanics would understand that part of the essay and fearing losing my readers, I decided to omit the addendum entirely. However, the addendum is arguably the most interesting part of the essay, because it [...]
The history of Creation can be expressed in three words (not even words but mere conjunctions): “and,” “or,” and “and/or,” whereas the history of physics may be expressed in two of them: “or,” and “and/or.”
Ki Tavo And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt set the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal. (Deuteronomy 11:29)These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are passed over the Jordan: Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin; and these shall stand upon mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice: Cursed be the man that maketh a graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and setteth it up [...]
In the proposed allegorical interpretation, the soldier in the war is a metaphor for the Jewish people, who are all “soldiers” in G‑d’s army Tzivot Hashem, who fight the battle against evil to liberate and elevate fallen sparks from Tohu; where the beautiful woman from another nation is a metaphor for a fallen spark from another universe (Tohu), where the uncontrollable attraction the soldier feels towards the beautiful captive is a metaphor for the uncontrollable attraction a Jewish person (who is attuned to spirituality) feels towards divine sparks he is destined to redeem; where after having extracted the fallen spark from the clutches of evil, it requires a period of purification to achieve the ultimate marriage—the reintegration of the fallen spark into the domain of holiness.
This week we study the Torah portion of Eikev, which we will be reading this Shabbat in synagogues. This Torah portion contains the second section of the Shema, Vehayah im shamo’ah, where the commandment of mezuzah is given a second time. Traditionally, this is the week when we discuss mezuzah. Coincidentally, tonight, the twentieth day of Av, is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, a prominent Kabbalist and the father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak has an interesting short commentary on the word mezuzah. In honor of his yahrzeit, I would like to expound upon and expand his commentary. The sages of the Talmud say that forty days before a fetus is formed, it is announced in heaven that this child is going to be married to [...]
Introduction Today, on Tisha B’Av—the ninth day of Av, this year commemorated on the tenth day of Av because the ninth is Shabbat, when mourning is forbidden—we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple—Bet HaMikdash. This day commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, and Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Aside from its historical significance, why is the destruction of both Temples so tragic that it is mourned even today? What is the significance of the Temple in Jerusalem? The Temple was a building where kohanim-priests offered sacrifices. The sages state that the Temple was a source of life for the Jewish people. This can be seen easily if we examine the parallels between the Temple and [...]