Vayikra — the third book of Torah

The Soul is in the Blood

For the life of the flesh is in the blood." (Leviticus 17:11) The word translated here as “life” in the Hebrew original is nefesh, i.e., “soul.” Torah appears to be telling us that soul of every live creature is in its blood. Indeed, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi says so explicitly in the Tanya: The abode of the animal soul derived from kelipat nogah in every Jew is in the heart; in the left ventricle, as it is filled with blood, and it is written, 'For the blood is the soul' (nefesh)…. just as the blood has its source in the heart, and from the heart it circulates into every organ…" (Likkutei Amarim, 9)[1] The animal soul is primarily vested in the blood (from where it spreads to the whole body and beyond). What does [...]

Nadab and Abihu — Tragedy in Time

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Eternal, which He had not commanded them. And there came forth fire from before the Eternal and devoured them, and they died before the Eternal. (Exodus 10:1-2) And Aaron spoke unto Moses: ‘Behold, this day have they offered their sin-offering and their burnt-offering before the Eternal, and there have befallen me such things as these; and if I had eaten the sin-offering to-day, would it have been well-pleasing in the sight of the Eternal? And when Moses heard that, it was well-pleasing in his sight. (Leviticus 10:19) The Torah Portion Shemini tells two stories: One of the tragic death of two sons of Aaron—Nadab (Nadav) and Abihu [...]

Salt: The Covenant of the Opposites

And every meal-offering of thine shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meal-offering; with all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt." (Leviticus 2:13)   Torah dictates that all offerings to God must be brought together with salt. Classical commentators ask: What is so special about salt that it is an indispensable ingredient of any sacrifice? Moreover, why is it called the covenant of salt? Nachmanides explains: The Torah also uses this covenant as a model for other covenants, as both the priestly covenant[1] and the Davidic covenant[2] are called “covenant of salt” because they are upheld just as the sacrificial covenant of salt…. I am of the opinion that the significance is that the salt is water, which [...]

The Entangled Tenth

And all the tithe of the herd or the flock, whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:32) This Shabbat, I was called up to the Torah for the last aliyah (lit. “ascent”, meaning the reading from the Scroll) of the book of Leviticus. This portion talks about tithing animals, giving the precise procedure for doing so – every animal is released from a pen one by one while being counted – one, two, three, … , ten. The tenth animal is touch by the rode and consecrated as the ma’aser – tithe. The Torah states that every tenth animal is holy unto God. What is the state of the animals before counting? They have two possible states: (1) chulin, i.e., “not sacred” and (2) ma’aser, [...]

Unified Field Theory and the Dew of Resurrection

And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook (Levit. 23:40) After completing his masterpiece, the General Theory of Relativity in 1916, Albert Einstein spent the rest of his life working fruitlessly on unifying gravity with electromagnetism. His quest was to develop a unified field theory that would unify his General Relativity, a theory of gravitational, with Maxwell electrodynamics. To his great dismay, Einstein never succeeded in developing a unified field theory. It was actually even worse. While working tirelessly on unifying two known classical fields – gravitational field and electromagnetic field – Einstein missed the incredible progress in quantum physics, of which he was one of the founders and for which he received his [...]

Adultery and Monogamy of Entanglement

And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, designated for a man, and not at all redeemed, nor was freedom given her; there shall be inquisition; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. (Lev. 19:20) In Quantum physics there is a principle of monogamy of entanglement, which roughly means that if two particles (or objects) are entangled, neither can be entangled with a third particle (or object). A human parallel to this principle is obvious – if two spouses are married, neither can have any intimate relations with a third person. In other words, a marriage must be monogamous. It is because of this parallel that the physical relationship between entangled particles in quantum mechanics was named the monogamy principle, or monogamy of entanglement. In [...]

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 [...]

Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll

And the Eternal spoke unto Moses, after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Eternal and died. (Leviticus 16:1)   The above verse seems 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. 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 sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Eternal, which [...]

Shabbat in Numbers

Last week Torah portion, Emor, speaks about the 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 Sage, Rabbi Chanina of Sepphoris derives the number 39 homiletically strenuously computing gematria of the phrase, “These are the things.” (Shabbat 7:2) The lack of clear [...]

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: 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 kadosh (or pl., kedoshim) because I, the Lord, your God, am kadosh.” The question is, what does the word “kadosh” mean. It is usually translated as “holy.” The word “holy” means sacred, sanctified, blessed, divine. But this translation presents a problem. It would be a tautology to say that God is divine. It is also self-understood that God is holy. He is the definition and the source of all that is divine and holy, i.e., godly. [...]