Pentateuch (Chumash)

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Torah – Five Books of Moses

Jacob and Esau—Thermodynamics of Order and Chaos

And these are the chronicles of Isaac… (Genesis 25:19) So Esau went unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives that he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife. (Genesis 28:9)   This Torah portion is called Toledot. In Hebrew, toledot means “generations” or “chronicles.” Indeed, this Torah portion starts with the phrase, “These are the chronicles of Isaac.” This is not the first or the last time this word appears in Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures). It appears for the first time in the opening verse of chapter 2 of Genesis: These are the chronicles of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Eternal God made earth and heaven. (Genesis 2:4) The second time it appears in [...]

Steering Isaac’s Blessing

And Rebekah spoke unto Jacob, her son, saying: “Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying: Bring me venison, and make me savoury food, that I may eat, and bless thee before the Eternal before my death. Now, therefore, my son, hearken to my voice according to that which I command thee. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury food for thy father, such as he loveth; and thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, so that he may bless thee before his death.” And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother: “Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. My father peradventure will feel me, [...]

Keturah and Hagar III—A Metaphor for Unification

And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah. (Genesis 25:1) Keturah: This is Hagar. She was called Keturah because her deeds were as pleasant as keturah (incense). (Genesis Rabbah 61:5) Keturah is Hagar. (Zohar 133)   As we discussed earlier, Abraham had a concubine, Hagar. Later in life, after the passing of Sarah, Abraham took another wife whose name was Keturah. Midrash, the Zohar, Rashi, and other commentators state that Keturah is Hagar. To distill this situation to its essence, we have here two seemingly distinct individuals who, in the view of at least some biblical commentators, are one and the same person. To any physicist, this narrative bespeaks a unification. Indeed, this situation is analogous to the unification tendency in theoretical physics, where different fundamental interactions are unified into one. [...]

Keturah—an Allegory of Entanglement

And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah (Genesis 25:1)   As I discussed in the earlier essay, “Yom Kippur – Disentangling the Entangled,” Adam and Eve were entangled. They were not unique in this. I wrote in several essays that every married couple is entangled.[1] How do we know that? Adam and Eve were created as one unit—“Male and female He created them”—as conjoint (Siamese) twins. Although God separated Eve from Adam, they remained entangled, just as two particles born from the decay of another particle remain entangled even after their separation. Thus, Adam and Eve’s entanglement cannot be proof that all married couples are entangled. However, the Torah states so explicitly: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they [...]

The Circumcision—The Interference of Parallel Universes

This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt Me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations. . . . and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. (Genesis 17:10–3)   Sages tell us that Abraham and other patriarchs knew the Torah prophetically before it was given to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai some 364 years after the Akeida took place.[1] Moreover, sages tell us that Abraham “observed” all of the Torah commandments. However, Abraham’s observance of the Torah commandments [...]

Akeida in Parallel Universes

Michael Frayn’s 1998 play, Copenhagen, concerns a meeting between two great physicists, Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, in 1941 in Copenhagen. In this play, the spirits of Heisenberg, Bohr, and Bohr’s wife, Margrethe, come together in the afterlife to answer Margrethe’s question, “Why did Heisenberg come to Copenhagen?” Bohr and Heisenberg worked closely together in Copenhagen in the 1920s while developing atomic physics, resulting in the formulation of quantum mechanics. Bohr was already an accomplished scientist when the young German Heisenberg joined his group, and Bohr began mentoring him. Heisenberg became one of the leading figures in formulating the new quantum mechanics. Later, Heisenberg joined the group of German physicists developing nuclear weapons for Nazi Germany. Why did Heisenberg return to Copenhagen in 1941? Denmark was at that time already occupied by Germany. [...]

The Akeida — The Binding of Isaac

And He said: “Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:2)   The Akeida (the Binding of Isaac) is one of the most enigmatic and troubling stories of the Bible. Its utmost importance is underscored by its inclusion in the daily morning prayers and its central role in the Rosh Hashanah services.[1] In summary, God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in the land of Moriah. Abraham hurries to fulfill the command and travels with Isaac to Mount Moriah, where he builds an altar, binds Isaac, and raises a knife, ready to sacrifice Isaac. At the last moment, an angel [...]

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 [...]

Noah’s Ark—Three Layers of Being Human

A light shalt thou make to the ark, and to a cubit shalt thou finish it upward; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (Genesis 6:16)   As mentioned in the previous post, “The Noah’s Ark—A Model of a Living Cell,” Noah’s ark was a microcosm. Structural parallels have been drawn between Noah’s ark and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (Bet HaMikdash), Tabernacle (Mishkan) (each of these sanctuaries is also called microcosm in its own right), and Mount Sinai—all based on the parallel between three levels of Noah’s ark, on the one hand, and three levels of the sanctity of various areas in the sanctuaries and Mount Sinai, on the other. In the previous chapter, we investigated [...]

Noah’s Ark—A Model of a Living Cell

Make thee an ark of gopher wood; with rooms shalt thou make the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” (Genesis 6:14) A light shalt thou make to the ark, and to a cubit shalt thou finish it upward; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (Genesis 6:16) And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. (Genesis 6:19) And the Eternal said unto Noah: ‘Come thou and all thy house into the ark…’ (Genesis 7:1)   Kabbalah teaches that Noah’s ark was a microcosm of the world. The ark appears to be [...]

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