Exodus (Shemot)

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Shmos — The Second Book of the Five Book of Moses (Torah)

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 [...]

The Surrounding Light and the Penetrating Light

The Torah portion Vayakhel deals with the construction of the Mishkan, i.e., the “Tabernacle.” In Kabbalah, the Mishkan is viewed as a microcosm that represents a miniature model of the entire universe—both physical and spiritual. The Mishkan was comprised primarily of two categories of objects. The first category included the coverings that made up the roof and the walls surrounding the Mishkan. The second category included kelim—the objects inside the Mishkan. This is not the first time the description of the coverings and kelim appear in the Torah. In the Torah portion Teruma, God gives Moses detailed instructions for the construction of the Mishkan. Interestingly, in Teruma, God first speaks of the kelim and then of the coverings, whereas in Vayakhel, when Moses instructs the Jewish people, he reverses the order and first [...]

Ki Tisa Hints at the Coronavirus

On the Eve of Shabbat, we received a government mailing containing documents that we were required to fill out and send back to the Census Bureau. The connection between the Census and the plague was not lost on me. The Torah portion we read last Shabbat, Ki Tisa. It begins with the story of the census: When you count the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to the Lord an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted.” (Exodus 30:12) This verse, linking the census with a plague, was uncanny in view of the COVID-19—Coronavirus pandemic—the modern-day plague, in the midst of which we find ourselves today. Interestingly, the word “count” in the verse above is [...]

Ye shall be disentangled… but not disengaged

In my post, “Ye Shall be Disentangled,” I suggested that the verse: “Ye shall be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy” (Levit. 19:2) may be interpreted as: “Ye shall be disentangled, for I, the Lord, your God, am disentangled.” I supported this proposition with the quantum monogamy principle (a.k.a. monogamy of entanglement) according to which, if two objects are entangled, neither of them can also be entangled with a third object. Consequently, if we wish to be entangled with God, we cannot also be entangled with the material world, as it would violate the monogamy principle. Thus, we must disentangle from the world, i.e., be holly. One may legitimately object to this interpretation because, in Judaism, we do not have monasteries; we do not have monks, we don't withdraw from [...]

Vectors, Spins, and Gender

Vectors, Spins, and Gender Speak to the children of Israel, and have them take for Me an offering; from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering. (Ex. 25:2) Every physics professor teaching physics 101 to freshmen spends the first lecture teaching vector algebra. Why vectors are so important? Because most quantities in mechanics (a branch of physics dealing with motion and forces) are vectors. A vector is a mathematical object that has a magnitude and a direction. For example, velocity is a vector – it shows not only how fast the object is moving, but also in what direction it is moving (it is different from “speed” which is an average velocity and is just a number). Similarly, acceleration is a vector, force is a vector, angular [...]

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 the favorite metaphor for explaining quantum entanglement. What is entanglement? When obtaining information about one [...]

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 [...]

Relativity of Manna

This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded: Gather ye of it every man according to his eating; an omer a head, according to the number of your persons, shall ye take it, every man for them that are in his tent.' And the children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. (Ex. 16-18) Jews in the desert were given manna – one omer (Biblical measure) per member of the household. Biblical commentator Rashi explains: Some gathered [too] much [manna] and some gathered [too] little, but when they came home, they measured with an omer, each one [...]

Thou Shall Not Be a Flipper

Reading the Haftorah this Shabbat brought to mind scenes from the 2004 Republican National Convention in Madison Square Garden in New York City where attendees where waving pictures of John Kerry  chanting “Flip-flop, flip-flop…” referring to Kerry’s ever changing position on the war in Iraq (“First I voted for it, before I voted against it”) and other political issues.  Former Governor of New York State, George Pataki, said there, “This year, we will win one for the Gipper, and they will lose one with the Flipper.” Kerry lost, as flippers usually do. This Haftorah (weekly portion of Prophets read publicly in Synagogues) starts with an astonishing statement of Elyahy Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet), “How long will you waver between two ideas? If the Lord is God, follow Him, and if the Baal, follow him.” (Melachim-I [...]

Global or Local?

And let them make me a Sanctuary that I may dwell among them (Ex. 25:8) In modern physics, there are two paradigms usually expressed as locality and nonlocality.  Theoretical physics was born when Isaac Newton published his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687, where he formulated his laws of motion and the universal law of gravity.  The law of gravity says that two masses attract each other proportionally to the product of their masses and inversely proportionally to the square of the distance between them. This law said nothing about the nature of the gravitational interaction, it did not explain the mechanism of this attraction at a distance.   Newton was bothered by the question of how one body can act on another body far removed from it with nothing in between, i.e., the notion of “action [...]

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