freedom of choice

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Primordial Serpent—the Incurable Atomist

Now the Serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Eternal God had made. (Genesis 3:1)   When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, He issued a decree: And the Eternal God commanded the man, saying: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.” (Genesis 2:16) Having commanded man to eat from every tree of the garden, including the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, God qualified His command: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) There appears to be some dissonance between verses 16 and 17. Verse 16 uses two words, akhol tokhel, each of which shares the [...]

The Tree of Knowledge as a Metaphor for Superposition of States and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; and the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9) And the Lord God commanded the man, saying: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:16–17) Upon creating Adam and Eve, God permitted them to eat any fruit from the Garden of Eden, except for the forbidden fruit—the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Disregarding this injunction, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden [...]

Noah’s Ark — Sailing through the Flood of Time

Time is a storm in which we are all lost. " (William Carlos Williams, Introduction to "Selected Essays") I always had a hard time relating to the story of the Flood on a literal level. Why would God want to wipe out all people He created in full knowledge that they would sin? Like it was a surprise for God! God, who exists above time, which He created, cannot be surprised—He knows the future. Then why to create humanity, just to destroy it later? And animals. . . what was their fault? They have no freedom of choice. They act on instincts hardwired in their genome as they were created. Why punish them? Lots of questions, few answers. If the Torah says the flood happened, it must have happened. However, the Torah is [...]

613 Degrees of Freedom

Passover has ended.  All Jews hastily remove their Passover dishes into special cabinets or the attic until next Passover.  After an eight-day break, home becomes filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread.  Passover leaves us with the pleasant taste of burnt matzot, memories of the Seder spent with family, and stories of the Exodus.  But did Passover really end? In the Mishnah (the precursor of Talmud), the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost) is called “Atzeret.”  This word is familiar to us from Shemini Atzeret—the holiday that follows immediately after the seven days of Sukkot, often simply viewed as the last day (or, in Diaspora, the last two days) of Sukkot.  Either way, Shemini Atzeret is the conclusion of the festival of Sukkot.  By designating Shavuot as Atzeret, the Mishnah seems to imply that it is [...]

God Collapses Sotah’s Wave Function

The story of Sotah, a suspected adulteress, is very troubling on the first blush. Why would a woman be subjected to such humiliation?  The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, points out that, to the contrary, the story of Sotah is the story of the boundless love of the Creator for his people. Notwithstanding the strict Biblical prohibition of erasing God’s name, to vindicate the wrongly accused woman, God allows and, indeed, decrees to erase His holy Name by dissolving the scriptural verses written on a parchment in the water that the woman would drink to clear her name. For as long as a woman is being suspected of infidelity, she cannot be intimate with her husband.  It takes a Divine intervention, whereby God sacrifices His honor in allowing erasing His holy Name, [...]

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