Continuing the theme of my last post, Mishkan – a Metaphor for Quantum Reality, the analogy between the Tabernacle (“Mishkan”) and quantum reality goes even deeper.
The quantum world is best described today by the Quantum Field Theory. According to this theory, there are no particles, only fields. When we interact with a field, it manifests itself as a quantum of the field, which, to some extent, looks and behaves like a particle. For example, when we interact with an electromagnetic field, it manifests itself as a photon – a quantum of the electromagnetic field. An electron, according to the Quantum Field Theory, is not really a particle but a quantum of the electron field, which is a quantum field that is spread across the entire universe. This quantum is an excitation of that field. It is a measurable state of the field with which we interact. A photon is nothing more than an excitation of the electromagnetic field, or a quantum of that field. Sometimes, such quanta (photons or electrons, as well as other subatomic “particles”) behave like particles and other times they behave like waves. In reality, they are neither particles nor waves, but excitations of their respective quantum fields. Since three of the four fundamental forces have been already unified in the Standard Model (with gravity still awaiting its unification), one can even speak of one universal field whose excitations are sometimes perceived as quanta of matter (e.g., electrons) and other times as quanta of fields that carry fundamental forces (e.g., photons – the carriers of electromagnetic force).
An amazing property of the Quantum Field Theory is that we can only speak of field quanta as we interact with the field, when the field assumes one of its permitted and measurable states and manifests itself as a quantum (or the “particle”). In between these interactions, the state and the nature of the field are quite indeterminate. Just as we cannot speak of the position of an electron in between the orbitals in the atom, or speak of a trajectory of a particle between the points where it manifests itself through the interaction with other particles, we cannot say anything certain about the nature of quantum reality (the quantum field) in between the states where it manifests itself interacting with the observer. We can only speak of the probabilities to find the field in any one of the permitted states (the “spectrum”).
Let’s now turn to the Mishkan – the Tabernacle, where G‑d revealed Himself to Israelites in the Sinai desert. The word “mishkan” is etymologically related to the word Shechinah—G‑d’s presence in the world. (The word, schunah, in modern Hebrew, means a neighborhood, i.e., a local presence).
G‑d, of course, is present everywhere. Not only He is present everywhere in space, He is the space in which we are present. (The sum of the numerical values of the letters of the Tetragrammaton, Y‑H‑W‑H, squared equal to the numerical value of the word hamakom, “the place”: (Y)2(H)2(W)2(H)2 = 102+ 52+ 62+ 52=186; HaMaKoM = 5+40+100+40=186.)
Similarly, not only G‑d is Eternal, He is the time in which we exist as his proper Name, Y‑H‑W‑H, means hayah (is), hoveh (was), ihiyeh (will be) – present, past, and future. Not only we are unable to apply to G‑d such concepts as when or where, we cannot say anything concrete about G‑d at all, except that He is our Creator (and only because He said so Himself at the beginning of Genesis!) However, He chose to manifest Himself in this world in one of the allowed “quantum” states: it had to be in the Mishkan and only during the encampments of Israelites in the desert, when G‑d’s presence – the Shechinah – rested in the Mishkan. Taking a poetic license, perhaps we can say, that the Shechinah was the local “excitation” of the G‑dly light Ohr En Sof (the “quantum field”), as it were. Mishkan (and, later, Bet HaMikdash – the Holly Temple in Jerusalem) were the only places (quantum states) where we could interact with the Divine directly and perceive manifestation of the Divine.
As we can see, the Tabernacle – Mishkan – is a metaphor for the quantum reality in more ways than one. To me, the incredible advancements in science in general and in our understanding of quantum reality with the development of Quantum Field Theory in particular are all signs of the approaching Messianic redemption which, inter alia, will redeem us not only from the physical and spiritual exile-galut, but also from our intellectual galut, from our state of ignorance when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of G‑d, as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9). At that time G‑d Presence – the Shechinah – will be redeemed from the galut (the state of indeterminacy) as well and will manifest itself openly (in other words assume a “measurable,” i.e., manifest quantum state) in the Third Jerusalem Temple—Bet HaMikdash HaShlishi—may it be rebuilt immediately!