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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 [...]

Noah’s Ark—Three Layers of Reality

A light shalt thou make to the ark…with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (Genesis 6:16) We mentioned in the previous posts that Noah’s ark was a microcosm.[1] As we discussed in the previous post, “Noah’s Ark—Three Layers of Being Human,” most structural parallels related to Noah’s ark are based on its tripartite structure —that is, its having three tiers. In Chasidic thought, the three levels of Noah’s ark correspond to three worlds of BiYA—Beriyah (the World of Creation), Yetzirah (the World of Formation), and Asiyah (the World of Action). In this essay, we will investigate how the tripartite structure of Noah’s ark is reflected in the structure of reality. We might say that the totality of existence comprises three layers—physical, informational, and spiritual. The classification of reality into three [...]

Physics of Tzimtzum II — Collapse of the Wave Function

In the previous post “Physics of Tzimtzum I—The Quantum Leap”, we gave a general overview of the mystical doctrine of tzimtzum—the cornerstone of Lurianic Kabbalah. It is time to get into the details. The first phrase that describes the process of tzimtzum in Etz Chaim states: Ein Sof “contracted” (tzimtzem) Himself in the point at the center, in the very center of Ohr Ein Sof. This sentence raises several difficult questions: First, what could it possibly mean that the Infinite (Ein Sof) “contracted” (tzimtzem) Himself? In Hebrew, the word tzimtzum comes from the root TZM, which means “to diminish” or “to fast,” that is, to “diminish” oneself.[1] It can also mean “to be precise,” that is, to remove ambiguity.[2] The repetition of the root TZM is a grammatical form of doubling down, an extreme [...]

Physics of Tzimtzum I — The Quantum Leap

Introduction “In the beginning G‑d created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) “In the beginning G‑d created the heavens and the earth,” the Torah says. However, what was before the “beginning”? It is like asking, What was before the Big Bang? In physics, until relatively recently, such questions were discouraged. The prevailing wisdom was that time and space had been created by the Big Bang, and there was no “before” before the Big Bang. Mishnah discourages such thinking, too. The sages point out that the first letter of the Torah, the letter bet, is open on the left and closed on the right:[1] The text of the Torah and the history of the world proceed from that opening on the left. The closed right side of the letter bet visually walls off [...]

In the Beginning — It’s All About Change

In the beginning G‑d created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)   The first verse in the Torah is key to understanding the fundamentals of creation. As far as physics is concerned, there are three key words in this verse, which are highlighted in bold: In the beginning G‑d created the heaven and the earth. According to Nachmanides, these three words—“beginning,” “heaven,” and “earth”—represent, respectively, time, space, and matter. It is easy to see that the “beginning” stands for time, because the “beginning” is clearly a temporal concept that sets off the beginning of time; that “heaven” is a metaphor for space, because the stars and the planets are perceived to be in the sky (i.e., heaven) when, in fact, they are moving in space;[1] and that “earth” is emblematic of matter, [...]

The Tree of Life and Wave Mechanics

As we discussed in the earlier post, The Tree of Knowledge as a Metaphor for Superposition of States and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is a direct consequence of wave-particle duality. If so, shouldn’t we expect to see some hints at the wave nature of reality in the narrative of the Garden of Eden? And the Tree of Life (Etz HaChaim): what was it doing in Eden? It appears in the narrative only twice—in the very beginning and at the very end of the story of the primordial sin—almost as if to put a frame around the picture. At the start of this narrative, the verse states: And the Lord G‑d planted a garden eastward, in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground [...]

Three Angels: Past, Present, and Future

And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of the tent in the heat of the day; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, three men stood over against him… (Genesis 18:1-2)   In the Torah portion Vayeira, three men appeared to Abraham as he was sitting at the entrance to his tent. The Talmud states that these three men were angels: Michael, Gabriel, and Rafael. Michael came to tell that Sarah will give birth to a son; Raphael came to heal Abraham after his circumcision; and Gabriel came to destroy Sodom. However, on a metaphorical level, it appears to me that these three angels personify three aspects of time: past, present, and future. Here are several clues that hint at [...]

Tisha B’Av on Shabbat – A Relativistic Perspective

Yesterday was the 9th day of the month of Av or, in Hebrew, Tisha B’Av. Usually, Tisha B’Av is marked by mourning and fasting. Yesterday, however, we ate festive meals, drank wine and were prohibited from fasting or displaying any signs of mourning. Because yesterday was Shabbat. Shabbat pushes off the observances of Tisha B’Av by a day. Indeed, today, Sunday, we fast and mourn the destruction of the First and the Second Holy Temple  – Bet Hamikdash – in Jerusalem, we remember the Holocaust and many other tragedies that befell the Jewish people. Why couldn’t we observe Tisha B’Av on Shabbat? After all, that was the day when on the 9th of Av, both Temples were destroyed! The simple explanation, of course, is that on Shabbat there is no mourning. On Shabbat, [...]

On Change

We all know that we leave in a three-dimensional world. Up-down, right-left, forward-backward – these are well-familiar to us directions in three dimensions of space we occupy. However, we also live in a three-dimensional world of another kind. In physics, we have units of measurement. There are lots of them, but only three are fundamental – all other are various combinations of these three – meter, second and kilogram (yes, in science, we use metric rather than Imperial units). We measure space in meters (m), we measure time in seconds (s) and we measure mass in kilograms (kg). These three units are fundamental in a sense that they are irreducible and all other units are combinations of meter (m), second (s) and kilogram (kg) (please note that in this context, kilogram is not [...]

By |2019-03-26T16:45:52-04:00May 16th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Mezuzah in Three Dimensions

The mezuzah is one of the few miẓvot ([divine] "commandments") for which the Torah states its reward. In this case, the reward is a long life for oneself and one's children: And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts ("mezuzot") of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be prolonged upon the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers for as long as the heavens are above the earth. Deuteronomy 11:20-21 According to the Tosafot and the Shulḥan Aruch, the main function of the mezuzah is to protect the house from evil. Because of this attribute, the mezuzah has been called "the coat of arms in the knighthood of G‑d."* To begin to understand the mechanism of this effect of the [...]

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