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Half-Shekel – Metaphor for Entanglement

This they shall give, everyone who goes through the counting: half a shekel according to the holy shekel. Twenty gerahs equal one shekel; half of a shekel shall be an offering to the Lord Ex. 30:13 In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa (Ex. 30), Jewish people are given the commandment of donating a coin as atonement, not just a coin – half a coin. But why half? If God thought, twenty gerahs would be too much, He could have commanded Moses to mint another coin worth ten gerahs. But no, the coin was to remain what it was—worth twenty gerahs—and Jews were to give half a coin. Don’t you find it peculiar? I don’t, because half-coins are my favorite metaphor when explaining entanglement to my physics students. What is entanglement? When obtaining [...]

Sacrifices and incenses – fields and entanglement

(Recent Purim celebrations distracted me from writing on the weekly Torah portion. But I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share my thoughts on the last week’s Torah portion – Tetzaveh. So here it is.) At the end of the weekly portion, Tetzaveh, Torah speaks of the burnt offerings (Heb. qorbanot) and the incense offerings (Heb. qetoret). The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, contrasts these two types of offerings by highlighting their symbolism. The Hebrew word for a burnt offering or sacrifice, qorban, is etymologically related to the word  qarov “close,” qiruv “to bring close” and qerovim “relatives,” as they all share the same root QRB “to be close.” Sacrificial offering (qorban) meant to bring a person who brought it close (qarov) to God. The Hebrew word for incense offerings, qetoret, [...]

Purim: Celebrating Randomness

The story of Purim, which we read in the Book of Esther, is a story about a righteous Jewish leader who held fast to his principles refusing to bow down to a rabid anti-Semite. It’s a story about a courageous Jewish queen, Esther, who saved her people risking her life. And yet, this holiday is not called by the name of Mordechai or Esther, it  is called Purim, because, as the Book of Esther informs us: For Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the adversary of all the Jews, had devised to destroy the Jews, and he cast the pur—that is the lot—to terrify them and destroy them… Therefore, they called these days Purim after the name pur. (Book of Esther, 9:24,26) This is odd because the casting of the lot (pur) [...]

Entangled Cherubs

And thou shalt make two cherubim of gold; of beaten work shalt thou make them, at the two ends of the ark-cover. And make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other end; of one piece with the ark-cover shall ye make the cherubim of the two ends thereof. And the cherubim shall spread out their wings on high, screening the ark-cover with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the ark-cover shall the faces of the cherubim be. And thou shalt put the ark-cover above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will speak with thee from above the ark-cover, from between the two cherubim which are [...]

Five Worlds

Today, Yud Shvat, is the yartzeit (anniversary of passing) of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, a.k.a. the Rebbe Rayatz, or the Frierdiker Rebbe. On the day of his yartzeit, it is customary to study his last maamar (Chassidic discourse), Basi LeGani. One of the themes expounded in the first chapter of this discourse is the concepts of four worlds: Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah (collectively referred to as ABYA). Actually, in Kabbala and Chassidic philosophy, we speak of five worlds and the “world,” which precedes Atzilut is call Adam Kadmon (Primordial Man, often referred to by its acronym as the A”K). In this post, I will draw a parallel between these spiritual worlds and stages of the creation of our physical world. Why do that? It is axiomatic in Jewish mysticism [...]

Joseph’s Sons

And now thy two sons, who were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh, even as Reuben and Simeon, shall be mine.  And thy sons, that thou begettest after them, shall be thine; they shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.  And as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died unto me in the land of Canaan in the way, when there was still some way to come unto Ephrath; and I buried her there in the way to Ephrath—the same is Beth-lehem.”  And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said: “Wherefrom are these?”   —Gen.  48:5-8 The above narrative in the Torah portion Vayechi is quite perplexing.  It starts with a shocking pronouncement by Jacob that [...]

Hillel, Shamai and Richard Feynman

The Talmud (tr. Shabbat) discusses two opinions about the manner in which we are to light Chanukah menorah. According to Hillel, we light the first light on the first night, two lights on the second night, etc. increasing the number of lights every night. According to Shamai, we are to do the opposite – light eight lights on the first night, seven on the second night, and so on diminishing the number of lights every night (according to how many days of Chanukah are still left). The Talmud concludes, ele v’elie diveri Elokim chaim (this and that are words of the living God, i.e., both opinions are true and reflect the will of God), but the halachah (the practical law) is according to Hillel. The Ari-zal explains that whereas the law today is [...]

Chanukah Menorah, Burning Bush and Sotah

As I wrote in my previous post, Schrödinger  Menorah:  Burning  And  Not  Burning, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains the miracle of Chanukah as a paradox of the menorah burning and not burning, thereby embodying the absolute nature of God, who is not limited by His infinity but combines all possibilities including infinitude (ko’ach bli gvul) and the finitude (ko’ach hagvul). The notion of the menorah burning and not burning easily lends itself to be cast in terms of the quantum superposition of states of burning and not burning. I couldn’t help myself to call it a Schrödinger Menorah. There a couple of problems, however, with this idea. Firstly, as the Rebbe wrote in 1971 in a letter to the editor of the Journal of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists, “The idea of miracles implies [...]

Schrödinger Menorah: Burning and not Burning

The miracle of Chanukah revolves around a single-day-supply of olive oil burning for eight days during rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (Bet HaMikdash), after Maccabees liberated Israel from the occupation by Seleucid empire. There are countless explanations of the miracle of the oil lasting eight days. The Lubavitcher Rebbe offers a unique explanation. The Rebbe dismisses any explanation of the miracle that relies on the miraculous nature of the oil itself. The Rebbe maintains that, to be kosher for the Menorah, the oil had to be natural olive oil, not some miraculous oil. According to the Rebbe, the miracle was that the natural oil was burning and not burning at the same time. The Rebbe draws an analogy with the dimensions of the Ark (Aron) in the Holy of Holies (Kodesh [...]

By | December 25th, 2016|Chanukah, God, Holidays (Yomim Tovim), Uncategorized|1 Comment

One-to-Many and Many-to-One

And he arrived upon the place and lodged there all night, because the sun was set; and he took from the stones of the place, and put them under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep. — Gen.28:11 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. — Gen.28:18 Rashi notes that, before Jacob lies down to sleep, the verse speaks of the plurality of stones: “he took from the stones of that place, and put them under his head.” When Jacob wakes up, the verse suddenly switches from plural to singular mentioning only one stone: “and took the stone that he had put under [...]