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 instances in time.
I came close to this understanding in 1999 when I presented a paper, “Towards Reconciliation of Biblical and Cosmological Ages of the Universe,” at the Torah and Science Conference in Miami. In that paper, I wrote:
The history of the universe is comprised of two main periods: pre and post human. In the first period, before first conscious observer peered into the universe, the universe was in an amorphous fuzzy state of linear superposition of all possible states. The universe at this stage existed only mathematically, as a distribution of probabilities. This period lasted approximately twelve billion years. When the first human opened his or her eyes he/she collapsed the world wavefunction and brought the universe into actual existence.
In that paper, I wrote that it was the collapse of the universal wave function that set off the flow of time. I was so focused on the resolution of the conflict between the cosmological age of the universe and the traditional Torah age that I stopped at the first collapse by Adam and Eve.
This week, I returned to that thought and realized that, as the Alter Rebbe states in Tanya (Sha’ar Yihud Veha’emunah), the creation of the universe is repeated every moment. Maase Bereshit—the Act of Creation—is repeated every moment. Therefore, the act of collapse and resetting the timeline occurs at every moment.
In the essay “Collapse and Revelation,” I also wrote about the connection between the splitting of the sea and consciousness—the hidden level of consciousness, Partzuf Leah, and the revealed level of consciousness, Partzuf Rachel. In my other essay, “The Splitting of the Sea,” I connected this event to time. I wrote, “The splitting of the sea may be seen as an allegory for separating or disentangling the past from the future.”
Suddenly, it all came together. I realized that the interaction of consciousness with the universal wave function gives rise to the emergence and the flow of time. This was one of the happiest realizations of my life. I immediately started writing a paper. In the meantime, I am happy to share with the readers of this blog a preview of the Abstract of this forthcoming paper, which is still a work in progress.
Time and Space as Emergent Phenomena
In this paper, I consider the nature of time and space as emergent phenomena arising from the interaction of consciousness and quantum systems. I propose that space and time emerge from the continual collapse of the universal wavefunction—defined as the quantum superposition of states of all particles in the universe—induced by observation. Adopting the Von Neumann-Wigner conscious collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics, conscious awareness causes wavefunction collapse, sequentially generating spatial coordinates and, ultimately, temporal flow.
Specifically, as consciousness interacts with the universal wavefunction, it collapses the wavefunction by localizing particles into defined spatial positions—effectively “creating” a tangible three-dimensional space at that instant. The renascent superposition of the newly defined individual particle wavefunctions reconstitutes a new universal wavefunction, which then collapses again upon the next instant of observation, recursively “generating” a new three-dimensional space—a new universe, as it were.
Each iterative collapse and re-emergence of the universal wavefunction can thus be considered distinct spatial worlds defined and brought into existence by observation. With each iteration of observation, particles acquire new localization that can be thought of as emerging in a new three-dimensional space—a new universe. Taken in totality, the series of these universes can be thought of as an ordered set of temporal instances leading to the emergence of the spacetime continuum.
With each instance of observation, particles transition from one universe into the next, propelling the arrow of time. This approach posits that time and space intrinsically emerge from consciousness-driven wavefunction collapse, offering insight into the relativistic and quantum underpinnings of their fundamental nature.
 Presented at the Third Miami International Conference on Torah & Science in Dec. of 1999 and published in B’Or HaTorah, 13 (2002) p. 19.