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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 [...]

Purim: Celebrating Randomness

Ultimately, I suppose Einstein was right—G‑d does not play dice. So when Haman reached that spiritual level through casting the lots, he discovered the true will of G‑d, who chose the Jewish People. Jews are called “ the chosen people” not because we are better or smarter than others but because it was a simple choice of G‑d. Call this choice “capricious,” call it “irrational,” but ultimately, as Niels Bohr quipped, “Quit telling G‑d what to do!” This is the ultimate lesson of the story of Purim.

From Purim to Passover

The Shulchan Aruch – the Code of Jewish Law – states that 30 days before Pesach (Passover) one needs to start learning the laws of Pesach. The simple meaning of this directive is clear – the laws are many and complicated and there is a lot to learn – so one needs to start early. There may be a deeper meaning in this, however. Let us recall that Pesach and Purim are exactly 30 days apart. To start learning about Pesach 30 days before, means to start learning about Pesach on Purim. Or, perhaps, the message is that from Purim we can learn about Pesach. The word Purim means “lot.” The story of Purim is about throwing lots. Evil Haman threw one lot to choose a month for the pogrom against Jews of [...]

Saved by Randomness

Some people may be fooled by randomness but, when we realize that randomness opens the door to the Divine, we are saved by randomness. It is for this reason that two days a year—on Purim and on Yom HaKippurim (which is a Day like Purim)—we read about two lots and we celebrate randomness.




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