Archives

Categories

Follow My Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Vayikra

//Vayikra

Leviticus — the Third Book of Torah

Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll

And the Lord spoke unto Moses, after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Lord, and died. (Lev. 16:1)   The first verse of the Torah portion of Acharei Mot, which we read yesterday, seem perfectly innocuous and, on the surface, serves as a mere introduction to the laws of Yom Kippur service that follows. Much, however, lies beneath the surface. Some of the deepest secrets of Kabbala are hidden therein. Allow me to present them along the lines of Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll. Nadab en Abihu verteerd door het vuur, gravure van Gerard Hoet, Den Haag 1728 Sex The story of two eldest sons of Aaron—Nadab (Nadav) and Abihu (Avihu)—dying is told in the Torah portion of Shemini: And Nadab and Abihu, the [...]

Fractal Patterns in Time

In the current Torah portion Emor, we are instructed to abstain from work on Shabbat—every seventh day. Next week’s Torah portion, Behar, continues this theme and instructs us to abstain from agricultural work every Sabbatical year, Shmita. And the Torah doesn’t stop there. It instructs us to count seven Shmitas and then observe a Jubilee, Yovel. Do you notice a pattern? Every seven days, every seven years, every seven Shmitas… Furthermore, the Midrash states the world will exist for seven thousand years with the seventh millennium being a thousand years of the kingdom of Mashiach (Messiah)—yom shekuloy Shabbat—one long Shabbat. A second-century sage, Rabbi Huniah ben HaKanah, interprets this Midrash to mean that the world will last seven Cosmic Shmitas, i.e., 49 thousand years (which, according to a prominent 13th–14th c. kabbalist Rb. Isaac [...]

Shabbat in Numbers

Last week Torah portion, Emor, speaks about prohibition of working on Shabbat. In fact, the Talmud enumerates precisely 39 categories of labor forbidden on Shabbat. But why 39? Rabbi Shimon b’ Rabbi Yossi ben Lakunya (Shabbat 49b) suggests that the number 39 can be derived from the number of times the various forms of the word “melacha” (work) appear in the Torah. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to see how this works out. In his commentary on this passage, Rabbi Hananel ben Hushiel (990-1053) already pointed out that this word appears 61 times in the Torah, not 39! Actually, this word actually appears 63 times! Another Talmudic Rabbi Chanina of Sepphoris derives the number 39 homiletically strenuously computing gematriah of the phrase, “These are the things.” (Shabbat 7:2) The lack of clear source for the [...]

Ye Shall be Disentangled

Ye shall be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy. Leviticus 19:2 This Torah portion begins with an astonishing statement: דַּבֵּר אֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם קְדשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them: Ye shall be holy; for I, the Lord, your God, am holy. Leviticus 19:2 The gist of this commandment is “Be kodosh (or plural, kodoshim) because I, the Lord, your God, am kodosh.” The question is, what does the word “kodosh” mean. It is usually translated as “holy.” The word “holy” means sacred, sanctified, blessed, divine. But this translation presents a problem. It is a tautology to say that God is divine. It is also self-understood that God is holy. He is [...]

Tale of Entangled Goats

In the last Torah portion, Metzorah, we learned about two entangled birds. This week, we learn about two entangled goats. I don’t know if these goats studied quantum mechanics but they can sure teach us a thing or two about quantum entanglement. Entanglement is one of the mysteries of quantum mechanics. On a macro level, entanglement is easy to understand. Imagine a coin sawn into two halves along the plane parallel to the face of the coin. One-half has only heads and the other only tails. Let’s send each of these halves to two people, Shimon and Reuven. If Shimon gets the half with the heads, he knows immediately that Reuven got the half with the tails even if Reuven didn’t yet open the envelope. In other words, the states (heads or tails) [...]

Leprous Cats and Angry Birds

In parshah Tazriah (Leviticus 13), the Schrödinger cat[1] gets leprosy. Well, it’s not really leprosy, it’s a mysterious supernatural disease called tzara’as, nowadays translated as psoriasis. And it’s not a cat, but a Jew who gets afflicted by tzara’as. In fact, cats, other animals, and even gentiles (i.e., non-Jewish humans) are immune to this spiritual malady. So why do I call a poor Jew afflicted with tzara’as a “Schrödinger cat”? Because he sure acts like one. Indeed, had I not studied quantum mechanics and had I not learned about the collapse of the wavefunction[2] back in the university, I would have surely discovered it by reading this parshah! A Jewish person with a skin lesion or boldness (present company excluded) is brought to a priest (kohen) who examines it for symptoms of tzara’as. If the prist [...]

By | April 30th, 2012|Parshah, Tazria u’Metzora, Uncategorized|0 Comments