In my last post, Tisha B’Av on Shabbat – A Relativistic Perspective, I wrote that God created His sanctuary in four dimensions — Bet HaMikdash (preceded by the Mishkan in the desert) in the three spatial dimensions, and Shabbat in the fourth dimension, time. I emphasized four dimensions because that was all we needed to explain the connection between the Temple and Shabbat and why we do not fast when Tish B’Av falls on Shabbat (but, instead, fast on the following day—Sunday). In truth, however, God created His sanctuary in five dimensions.
As we discussed in a number of posts on this blog (On the Nature of Time and the Age of the Universe, The Fifth Force, The Fifth Force – Epilog, Tumah and Taharah), Sefer Yetzirah, the oldest surviving book of Kabbalah, describes our world as a five-dimensional universe: A depth of beginning, a depth of end; a depth of good, a depth of evil; a depth of above, a depth of below; a depth of east, a depth of west; a depth of north, a depth of south. (Sefer Yetzirah 1:5)
In another place, Sefer Yetzirah again speaks of the universe as a five-dimensional construct: Shanah (“year”-time) – Makom (“place”-space) – Nefesh (“soul” spirituality), i.e., time-space-spirituality. One-dimensional time plus three-dimensional space plus one-dimensional spirituality equal five-dimensional temporal-physical-spiritual universe.
Interestingly, Kaluza (1921) and Klein (1926) proposed a five-dimensional geometry as a way to incorporate electromagnetic field into General Theory of Relativity. Their work was not met with much enthusiasm at the time and quickly forgotten. In 1971, unaware of the earlier work of Kaluza and Klein, in my first paper in theoretical physics, I also proposed a five-dimensional geometry, where the fifth dimension was energy. I was a few decades late. However, it didn’t take long for the five-dimensional space to be resurrected in the string theory. Today, I don’t feel as bad that Kaluza and Klein came up with my idea of five-dimensional geometry much before me. Sefer Yetzira beat us all by at least two thousand years!
Going back to Sefer Yetzirah’s universe – Olam (space), Shanah (time), Nefesh (soul) – we can say that God sanctified all three domains by creating a five-dimensional sanctuary. In the domain of space (Olam) — the three-dimensional hypersurface of the five-dimensional universe, this sanctuary was the Mishkan in the desert and, later, the First and the Second Temple – Bet HaMikdash – in Jerusalem. In the domain of time (Shanah), the sanctuary is the Shabbat. This part was explained in detail in my previous post. Now we came to the fifth dimension – soul (Nefesh).
The Torah says (Exodus 25:8),
And you shall make Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.
Grammatically, it should have said, and I will dwell in it. However, God says, He would reside “in them.” Our Sages comment: “It does not state ‘in it,’ rather, ‘in them,’ that is to say, within each and every Jew.” (See Likkutei Torah, Naso 20b). The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained that in addition to the general sanctuary (Mishkan and Bet HaMikdash), each Jew should make his or her own personal sanctuary, so that God will reside within him or her.
This explanation, however, leaves the question open: why is the commandment to build a physical sanctuary (Mishkan) for God is given in a language implying that building such a sanctuary would automatically assure that God dwells within us as well?
The Sefer Yetzirah’s five-dimensional universe provides the answer. When God commanded “And you shall make Me a sanctuary,” He commanded us to build Him a Sanctuary in five dimensions. The fifth dimension is the dimension of the soul. Now we understand that building the Sanctuary for God in five-dimensional universe involves building a physical Temple in space, observing the Shabbat, and building a sanctuary for God in our own soul.
Although we don’t have the physical Temple, the Bet HaMikdash, in space, we do have Shabbat. And we are left with the sacred task of building the Sanctuary for God in our own souls. Succeeding in this soulful task will hasten the rebuilding of the Third Bet HaMikdash, may it happen immediately!