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Jacob and Esau—Thermodynamics of Order and Chaos

And these are the chronicles of Isaac… (Genesis 25:19) So Esau went unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives that he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife. (Genesis 28:9)   This Torah portion is called Toledot. In Hebrew, toledot means “generations” or “chronicles.” Indeed, this Torah portion starts with the phrase, “These are the chronicles of Isaac.” This is not the first or the last time this word appears in Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures). It appears for the first time in the opening verse of chapter 2 of Genesis: These are the chronicles of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Eternal G‑d made earth and heaven. (Genesis 2:4) The second time it appears in [...]

Shavuot — Three States of Consciousness

Shavuot (a.k.a. the Feast of Weeks, or “Pentecost”) is the only Jewish holiday with no fixed day on the calendar—it is always the fiftieth day from the beginning of the counting of the Omer (which itself starts on the second day of Passover). What is so special about the number 50, and what is its connection to Shavuot? Shavuot is not only the culmination of the counting of the Omer—Sefirat HaOmer—but also the culmination of the process of the maturation of our consciousness. On Shavuot, it is customary to read the Book of Ruth (Megilat Rut). The story begins with Lot and his daughters running away from Sodom and hiding in a mountain cave. Seeing the destruction of Sodom, the daughters of Lot suspected that God, in his fury, destroyed the whole of [...]

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