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exodus

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The Fifth Force

“Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach thou it the children of Israel.” Deut. 31:19 The four known fundamental forces are: gravitational force, electromagnetic force, strong (nuclear) force and weak (betta decay) force. Newton first described gravitational force in his famous universal law of gravity. Today, we use Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity to describe strong gravitation fields. Electromagnetism was described in the 19 c. by Faraday and Maxwell. Strong and week forces were discovered much later, in the second half of the 20 c. Since Albert Einstein started a search for a unified field theory, unsuccessfully trying to unify (describe by a single theory) gravity and electromagnetism, the quest for a unified field theory – the “Theory of Everything” – became the holy grail of theoretical physics. Strong and [...]

Forty Two Journeys to the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

These are the journeys of the children of Israel… (Numbers 33:1) When G-d brought the Jews out from Egypt, He brought them out with the mystery of the 42-letter name, just as He created heaven and earth… (Zohar Chadash) The forty-two "stations" from Egypt to the Promised Land are replayed in the life of every individual Jew, as his soul journeys from its descent to earth at birth to its return to its Source. (Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov) Torah portion Massei (Num. 33-35) recalls forty-two journeys of the Children of Israel in the Sinai desert after the Exodus from Egypt.  This is not the first time the concept of forty-two journeys appears in the Torah.  Commenting on the Biblical verse, “And God said, ‘Behold, I Will Cause to Rain Bread from Heaven for You,’” (Ex. 25:5) the Midrash [...]

From Purim to Passover

The Shulchan Aruch – the Code of Jewish Law – states that 30 days before Pesach (Passover) one needs to start learning the laws of Pesach. The simple meaning of this directive is clear – the laws are many and complicated and there is a lot to learn – so one needs to start early. There may be a deeper meaning in this, however. Let us recall that Pesach and Purim are exactly 30 days apart. To start learning about Pesach 30 days before, means to start learning about Pesach on Purim. Or, perhaps, the message is that from Purim we can learn about Pesach. The word Purim means “lot.” The story of Purim is about throwing lots. Evil Haman threw one lot to choose a month for the pogrom against Jews of [...]

Splitting the Sea

Do you like riddles?  Here is a riddle – what do these two figures represent in the context of Exodus?   No Idea?  How about a hint? Still no idea? Okay, here is the answer: Yes, the first figure represents two doorposts and the lintel marked with the blood of Passover sacrifice, as it says: וְלָקְחוּ, מִן-הַדָּם, וְנָתְנוּ עַל-שְׁתֵּי הַמְּזוּזֹת, וְעַל-הַמַּשְׁקוֹף--עַל, הַבָּתִּים, אֲשֶׁר-יֹאכְלוּ אֹתוֹ, בָּהֶם  And they shall take of the blood, and put it on the two side-posts and on the lintel, upon the houses wherein they shall eat it.  (Ex. 12:7) The second picture is of the splitting of the sea, as it says: וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּתוֹךְ הַיָּם, בַּיַּבָּשָׁה; וְהַמַּיִם לָהֶם חוֹמָה, מִימִינָם וּמִשְּׂמֹאלָם And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground; and the [...]

I Am Who I Am: Conversation at the Burning Bush

Every theologian worth his salt along with many philosophers, from Plato and Aristotle to Descartes and Kant, attempted to prove the existence of God.  Tomas Aquinas, for instance, offered five “proofs”!  Others, such as Hume and Nietzsche, tried proving the opposite.  Little did they understand that proving the existence or nonexistence of God is a fool’s errand.  There are several reasons for that: 1.            The existence of God cannot be proven because… God doesn’t “exist,” not in the ordinary sense of existence anyway.  One can say that an object exists only so long as it may exist or may not. By stating that the object exists, we specify one of the two possibilities.  Similarly, a person can be alive or, God forbid, not alive.  By stating that a person is alive we specify [...]

Moses – the First Scientist

And the angel of G-d appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a thorn-bush; and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed. And Moses said: "I must turn aside, and investigate this wondrous phenomenon, why the bush is not burnt." Shemot-Exodus III, 2-3   In this Torah chapter, Moses sees a strange sight – a burning bush not consumed by fire.  His scientific curiosity is aroused and he does what any good scientist does – he goes to investigate this “wondrous phenomenon.”  Moses was the first scientist recorded by the Bible. We, scientists, chase after wondrous phenomena to investing their nature. However, we often do it with arrogance, caring our own agenda and preconceptions.  Torah teaches us otherwise, as [...]

By | December 21st, 2013|Parshah, Science, Shemot, Uncategorized|1 Comment

Passover, Shabbat and the Principle of Least Action

There is hardly a Jewish holiday more widely celebrated than Passover (Pesach). Jews of all denominations, affiliations, and levels of religious observance—if any at all—gather at the Passover Seder to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. What is often lost amid all of the beautiful rituals, not least among them the singing of Had Gadia and other Seder songs, is the deep meaning of this holiday, which is far more profound than a mere recollection of historical events, no matter how important they may be. What is, then, the deeper meaning of Pesach that transcends its historical significance? On the morrow of Shabbat One obscure and little-known (outside of the observant Jewish community) mitzvah may lead us to a deeper understanding of the meaning of Pesach – this is the commandment [...]