Cosmology

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Cosmology and the Tetragrammaton

As we discussed in the previous post “Singularity and Paradise,” Paradise offers a beautiful metaphor for modern cosmology wherein Eden is the initial singularity preceding the Big Bang, the river flowing from Eden to water the garden[1] is the expanding universe, and the garden itself is our planet Earth. This metaphor fits nicely with an old Kabbalistic allegory of a glassblower who maps the various stages of the glassblowing process with the four letters of the Tetragrammaton—YHWH, or yud-heh-vav-heh. To create a glass object, the glassblower must first have a seminal idea of what he desires to create—this corresponds to the letter י (yud) of the Tetragrammaton, because yud represents Chokhmah, which itself represents the seminal idea and inspiration. Before the process of creation begins, the glassblower must inhale air into his lungs—this [...]

Singularity and Paradise

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 chapter of Genesis contains many repetitions, the most famous of which is the second rendering of the story of the creation of Adam and Eve. The classical commentators explain that this chapter adds further details to the original story of creation told in chapter one. Indeed, the Torah itself makes it clear by stating that “these are chronicles of the heaven and the earth…” Thus, the biblical cosmology sketched out in the first chapter of Genesis is retold here in greater detail. *** And a river went out of Eden to water the garden. (Genesis 2:8-10) This verse positions Eden as the wellspring [...]

Chanukah Menorah – the River of Time

In a Kabbalistic meditation on lighting Chanukah Menorah, the Arizal links the menorah lights with a supernal river (see Candle on the River). The Arizal’s principal disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital, writes in Shaar HaKavanot, Inyan Chanukah: One should meditate on the idea that the initials of the words ‘…l'hadleek ner Chanukah [to light the Chanukah candle]’ are the holy name called ‘Nachal’.” The first letters of  “l'hadleek ner Chanukah” are three letters, Lamed (L), Nun (N), and Chet (Ch). Rearranged, these letters spell the word NaChaL – a stream or a small river. As I wrote in my essays, “On the Nature of Time and the Age of the Universe,” and “Joseph—the Master of Time,” a river has been the metaphor for time across many cultures. Does this Kabbalistic meditation hints at a connection between Chanukah lights and [...]

Big Bang

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא The Torah starts with two words—Bereshit bara—“In the beginning, [God] created…” Bereshit in Hebrew means “in the beginning,” and bara means “created.” What is interesting is that both words begin with the same letter, bet, the equivalent of b. Another two-word expression that describes the process of creation and each of whose two words also starts with the letter b is, of course, the Big Bang. This similarity could be a coincidence, but not according to Nachmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Naḥman Girondi, known by the Hebrew acronym Ramban, 1194–1270). Here is Nahmanides’s description of the initial moments of the creation: At the briefest instant following creation, all the matter of the universe was concentrated in a very small place, no larger than a grain of mustard. . . . From the [...]

Gravitational Waves – Listening to Chirping of the Cosmos

Gravitational waves discovered last year and announced last week are converted into sound waves giving the astronomers the ear into the cosmos. Characteristic sounds of gravitational waves are called “chirping.” In Hebrew the  word for bird is tzipor – “chirping.” King Solomon was said to have understood the language of birds. Listening to and understanding the chirping of birds has been a long tradition among prophets of Israel. Tradition has it that Baal Shem Tov listened to and understood the chirping of birds. Rabbi Chaim Vital, the principal disciple of the Ari-zal, writes in Ruach HaKodesh, “Every animal, beast, bird, and creeping-crawly is empowered by a spirit. These spirits are keepers of great mystery. Therefore, through a chirp of a bird, for example, or the sound of any animal, one can also discover [...]

By |2016-02-15T21:47:21-05:00February 15th, 2016|Cosmology, Science, Uncategorized|5 Comments

Black Holes and Gravitational Waves

A hole in Kabbalah is called “rah” (evil). The reason for that is, as content is lost due to a leakage through the hole, forces of evil get their nourishment from leakage of light. Kabbalah views the world as divided into two domains – a domain of holiness (“sitrah d’kedushah”) and a domain of evil, so-called "the other side" (sitrah acharah). A hole is viewed as a portal from the domain of holiness into the other side – the domain of evil. This is why, for example, we are commanded to attach mezuzot to the doors of our houses. Doors viewed as portals of evil, through which good energy of the house can leak into the outside – the domain of evil. The mezuzah containing the affirmation of the oneness of God, plugs these [...]

By |2016-02-15T21:30:47-05:00February 12th, 2016|Cosmology, Science, Uncategorized|3 Comments

When was the World Created?

There is a dispute in the Talmud as to when the world was created. According to Rabbi Eliezer, the world was created in the month of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar when we celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah. According to Rabbi Yehoshua, the world was created in the first month of the year, the month of Nisan (Tr. Rosh HaShanah, 10b). The Chasidic thought attempts to reconcile these opposite opinions suggesting that both opinions are correct—the world was created in Nisan in thought, whereas in deed, it was created in Tishrei.  The problem with this approach is that for halakhic (Jewish ritual law) purposes of calculating the Jewish calendar, the planets are deemed to have commenced their heavenly orbits in Nisan, not in Tishrei!  How could planets that [...]

Adam Kadmon and Holographic Universe

Dedicated to the memory of Professor Yaakob David Bekenstein   The Torah opens with the word “Bereshit” – in the Beginning – whose first letter, Bet, is written large to signify that it contains a hidden meaning. The gematriah (numerical value) of the letter Bet is 2. It has three sides – top (“roof”), bottom (“floor”) and the right “wall”:   Letter Bet of Bereshit may be viewed as the “event horizon” of the Torah. In General Relativity, the event horizon is the area of spacetime beyond which information is inaccessible to an outside observer. For example, the event horizon of a black hole is the boundary surrounding every black hole that acts as information firewall – the light from within the event horizon cannot escape outside and, therefore, information is invisible to an [...]

Cosmological Rosh HaShanah

This Rosh HaShanah I had the strangest dream. I dreamed that I was giving a lecture in cosmology at a university when I suddenly realized that it was Rosh HaShanah. I panicked… What was I doing at the university on such a day instead of being in my synagogue, praying and listening to sounds of a shofar?! I decided to save the day by trying to weave the three main themes of Rosh HaShanah into my lecture on cosmology. And so I began… NASA/WMAP Science Team - Original version: NASA; modified by Cherkash In the Rosh HaShanah liturgy, we refer to this day as yom harat olam – the birthday of the world (Machzor Rosh HaShanah). According to modern cosmology, the world was born in an unfathomable explosion called the Big [...]

Two Beginnings

B’reshit bara Elokim et hashamaim v’et haaretz… In the beginning, God created heaven and earth… Alternative translation: With two beginnings God created heaven and earth… Genesis 1:1   *This is an abridged and updated version of my paper “Towards Reconciliation of Biblical and Cosmological Ages of the Universe” Presented at the Third Miami International Conference on Torah & Science in Dec. of 1999 and published in B’Or HaTorah, 13 (2002) p. 19. Contemporary science places the age of the universe in the thirteen to fourteen billion years range, or 13.787 ± 0.02, [1] to be precise.  This age is derived from both theoretical models as well as experimental data.  (For an overview of theoretical and experimental approaches to dating the universe and our planet Earth see my original paper TOWARDS RECONCILIATION OF BIBLICAL AND [...]

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