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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 [...]

Time and Space as Emergent Phenomena — Abstract

The current Torah portion Beshalach tells about the splitting of the Sea of Reeds. As I discussed in my essay, “Collapse and Revelation,” the splitting of the sea is a metaphor for the collapse of the wave function in quantum mechanics. The Alter Rebbe, the Baal HaTanya, taught us to leiben min hatzait (“to live with the time,” that is, to leave with the current reading of the Torah). Maybe this is why, this week, when we read in the Torah portion Beshalach about the splitting of the sea, I finally understood where time comes from. This question haunted me for more than forty years. Finally, this week, I got it—time emerges through the interaction of consciousness with the universal wave function, causing the sequence of wave function collapses that we perceive as [...]

Principle of Least Action III — History

The spectacle of the universe becomes so much the grander, so much more beautiful, the worthier of its Author, when one knows that a small number of laws, most wisely established, suffice for all movements. Pierre Louis Maupertuis (1744) Among the more or less general laws, the discovery of which characterize the development of physical science during the last century, the principle of Least Action is at present certainly one which, by its form and comprehensiveness, may be said to have approached most closely to the ideal aim of theoretical inquiry. Its significance, properly understood, extends, not only to mechanical processes, but also to thermal and electrodynamic problems. In all the branches of science to which it applies, it gives, not only an explanation of certain characteristics of phenomena at present encountered, but [...]

Time as a Combination of Past and Future

Philosophers struggled with the notion of time from the dawn of human civilization. Physicists of today declared the problem of time the number one problem in theoretical physics. Jewish mysticism has much to say about time.[1] Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, in the name of the Arizal, quotes a verse: בִּטְחוּ בַיהוָה עֲדֵי-עַד, כִּי בְּיָה יְהוָה צוּר עוֹלָמִים Isaiah 26:4 The standard English translation of this verse, by JPS is: Trust ye in the LORD for ever, for the LORD is GOD, an everlasting Rock. Isaiah 26:4 This is not a very good translation because it doesn't tell you what specific names of G-d are used in the pasuk. Let us spell out the names in this pasuk to see what is going on: Trust ye in Havyah (Y-H-W-H) for ever, for Kah (Y-H) is [...]

By |2023-07-31T17:43:04-04:00July 30th, 2023|Isaiah, Time, Uncategorized, Vaetchanan|1 Comment

Metaphysics of Time in the Eyes of Philosophy and Kabbalah

A-Series and B-Series as Zman and Seder HaZmanim McTaggart’s series A and series B are two conceptual frameworks proposed by the philosopher J.M.E. McTaggart[1] to analyze the nature of time and its relationship to temporal properties such as past, present, and future. J. M. E. McTaggart, by Walter Stoneman, 1917 In McTaggart’s series A, also known as the “A-series” or the “temporal series,” time is understood in terms of the temporal properties of past, present, and future. The A-series categorizes events based on their temporal relations, such as past, present, and future, which are considered essential aspects of events. The A-series views time as a succession of moments where events move from the future, through the present, and into the past. It emphasizes the dynamic and changing nature of time, with events shifting their [...]

By |2023-07-24T10:13:23-04:00July 21st, 2023|Time, Uncategorized|1 Comment

Sanctuaries in Space and Time

We are quite familiar with space—we move freely in space back and forth; we concur space on land and beyond; we reclaim land from sea; we turn deserts into gardens; we turn desolated space into sprawling cities. We are, on the other hand, helpless in the face of time. We cannot move freely in time. We can’t move back in time. We are swept forward in the inexorable flow of time. We do not understand time; we cannot change it. We are masters of land, but not of time. It is for this reason, when G‑d instructed Moses how to build a sanctuary for Himself, He could not have started with time—we would have not the faintest idea what it meant—a sanctuary of G‑d in time—let alone how to do it. That is why G‑d started with space, instructing Moses how to build the Mishkan—a Sanctuary in space—first. Only then He commanded Moses about Shabbat.

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 [...]

Let There Be Light

And G‑d said: “Let there be light.” And there was light. And G‑d saw the light, that it was good; and G‑d separated between the light and between the darkness. And G‑d called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:3-5)   This short passage from Genesis presents several difficulties that many classical commentators struggle to address. The first problem has to do with darkness and the separation of light from darkness. As we know today, darkness is not a substance—it is merely the absence of light. The verse states that G‑d separated between the light and the darkness. Presumably, before this “separation,” the light and the darkness existed together. How is this possible? By definition, the presence of light [...]

Nadab and Abihu — Tragedy in Time

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Eternal, which He had not commanded them. And there came forth fire from before the Eternal and devoured them, and they died before the Eternal. (Exodus 10:1-2) And Aaron spoke unto Moses: ‘Behold, this day have they offered their sin-offering and their burnt-offering before the Eternal, and there have befallen me such things as these; and if I had eaten the sin-offering to-day, would it have been well-pleasing in the sight of the Eternal? And when Moses heard that, it was well-pleasing in his sight. (Leviticus 10:19) The Torah Portion Shemini tells two stories: One of the tragic death of two sons of Aaron—Nadab (Nadav) and Abihu [...]




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