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    Torah and Science:
    The higher waters merging with the lowers waters



    Based on lectures given by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
    29 Kislev and 1 Tevet 5761
    Dan Pearl Hotel, Jerusalem
    students’ transcription

    Introduction

    Many questions arise in the minds of people who find conflict between Torah and science. The conflicts are much smaller than may appear at first glance. It is important to try to understand science in the context of faith. “Faith” (emunah) is grammatically the same word as “truth” (emet) in Hebrew, ultimate and absolute truth, which has to do with the concept of purpose. Even in modern science there are scientists who assert that the magnificent splendor and beauty of the laws of the universe ultimately point to some purpose and order to creation. This purpose implies, of course, a conscious Creator of the universe with a conscious purpose in creating the universe exactly the way it is. Many scientists are not ashamed anymore to say explicitly that from what we understand from the splendor of the manifestation of science today that “it’s a put-up job,” in the words of one great scientist today. Avraham Avinu, the first Jew, came to the same conclusion: that it’s a put-up job, that “there is a master of the city,” or universe, in which we live.

    The human mind is not capable of meditating on the world of Atzilut (“Emanation”) since it is too close to the Divine source for us to fully understand. To meditate on something in Atzilut it is necessary to use parables. The parables then become a seat upon which the truth may rest. The parable is often brought from the physical world, but the most spiritual parable is brought from the soul. The spiritual parable is a psychological understanding. Understood together, they allow the human mind to approach understanding Divinity as best it can.

    Basic scientific concepts can serve as parables for concepts in Kabbalah. For instance, in the process of fertilization we learn in Kabbalah that the “higher waters” must unite with the “lower waters” to give birth. What are these waters? The higher waters are the more masculine Torah, while the lower waters are the more feminine science. This paper is an introduction to a way of understanding how to unify these higher and lower waters.

    The Laws of Nature as paths to G-d

    The deepest levels of coming to G-d are reflected in the very world which He created. It is told of Rabbi Shalom Dovber of Lubavitch that he was meticulous to say a blessing every hour. If during any particular hour he did not have a reason to say a blessing, such as on food or a mitzvah, he said the verse “Blessed are you G-d; teach me your statutes” (Psalms 119:12). Rabbi Shalom Dovber would focus his intention during this blessing on the laws of nature! The word in Hebrew for “statute” is hok, which is generally understood to be the laws that are beyond reason or logic, such as the red heifer and kashrus. Thus, the laws of nature are themselves statutes that are not derived from common sense. Further, it is told, anyone who contemplates creation and is not brought to a feeling of awe for the Creator does not understand the complexity of nature and its laws. Thus, examination of, understanding, and meditation upon the laws of nature can bring us further spiritual growth.

    The Scientific Method

    The scientific method is the systematic attempt to construct theories that correlate wide groups of observed facts and that are capable of predicting the results of future observations. Such theories are tested by controlled experimentation and are accepted only as long as they are in agreement with all observed facts.

    The scientific method is based on a process of observing certain physical facts, performing experiments to obtain more facts, and the interpretation of the facts via the scientists’ understanding.

    facts < -- > experiments < -- scientists’ understanding

    When enough facts have been gathered and the scientist has pondered the accumulation of data, the “discovery” is usually made at the mathematical level. A mathematical description of the physical phenomenon is arrived at, and then the next step is to return to the laboratory experiments to see if the new model can predict behavior in the real world.

    The Higher waters two-step

    In order for there to be a true uniting of Torah and science, Torah must descend and contribute something to science. The first step is the Torah, or rather the Torah scholar, “descending” to understand science through its principles, discoveries, and new frontiers. Then, his inspiration can take correct models and place them on the scientific body of knowledge. At this point, the body of scientific knowledge becomes a proper parable for Atzilut (the spiritual world of “Emanation”).

    The second stage is to meditate on the parable created by this method. The ultimate goal is that this meditation should guide the Torah scholar to a new scientific “discovery” of nature. This level—a deep principle in Torah guiding the scientist to a new discovery—is a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s name), or, in correlation, a revelation of Mashiah (the Messiah).

    Torah, Science, and Worlds

    The facts gathered through experiments are details, while the “discovery” or “eureka” of the mathematical level is a generality. These two levels of consciousness reflect the two lower worlds in Kabbalistic understanding, the worlds of Asiyah (“action”) and Yetzirah (“formation”). The level of Asiyah is the level of individuals, whereas the level of Yetzirah is the level of species. For example, at the level of Asiyah there is a housedog named Rover; at the level of Yetzirah there is a species called dog. The genius to create experiments that will prove or disprove a proposed rule is the consciousness of the world of Asiyah, the world of individuals. The genius of defining the rule is the consciousness of the world of Yetzirah, the world of generality.

    The scientific method is then a back and forth between these two lower worlds of Asiyah and Yetzirah. Science tries to unite the two lower worlds through matching the theory (the generality) with the facts (the details).

    In Kabbalah, the next highest world is that of Beriah (“creation”). This is the world of abstract “somethingness” (yesh in Hebrew). Beriah is the state of the mind touching objective reality, of comprehending the essence of the substance itself, or of formless matter. Beyond the “eureka” experience, it is a metaphysical interpretation of reality. Metaphysics is a philosophical level above the physical data that has been gathered. Above that is the genius of true philosophy.

    formless matter

    genius of metaphysics and philosophy

    Beriah

    Species

    genius of defining the rule

    Yetzirah

    Individuals

    genius of creating experiments to prove or disprove the rule

    Asiyah

    Torah, however, belongs to the highest world, Atzilut. This is essentially the experience of nothingness (ayin in Hebrew). It is that which is behind the continual creation; the nothingness from G-d’s view as the universe is continually being created. It is the “private domain” (reshut hayahid) of the Almighty.

    Nothingness

    Torah

    Atzilut

    reshut hayahid (private domain)

    Formless matter

    genius of metaphysics and philosophy

    Beriah

    reshut harabim (public domain)

    Species

    genius of defining the rule

    Yetzirah

    Individuals

    genius of creating experiments to prove or disprove the rule

    Asiyah

    Existentially, the process which the scientist follows in pursuit of understanding physical phenomena can be represented schematically:

    collection of facts --> rules --> new experiment
      ^
      |
      mind


    This process can be paralleled with the fundamental sequence of experiential categories in Divine service taught by the Baal Shem Tov. This sequence is known as “submission, separation, and sweetening.”

    The collection of facts is paralleled to “submission” in that it is like the acceptance of a yoke. The eureka experience, understanding the generality, is paralleled to “separation” in that it is likened to a flash of light that forms a new light. The “sweetening” step comes with the scientist’s intuitive grasp of the true essence of matter.

     

    Nothingness

    Torah

    Atzilut

    reshut hayahid (pdomain

    sweetening

    Formless matter

    metaphysics and philosophy

    Beriah

    reshut harabim (public domain)

    separation

    Species

    genius of defining the rule

    Yetzirah

    submission

    Individuals

    genius of creating experiments to prove or disprove the rule

    Asiyah

    We will now give some examples of setting a Torah model on scientific principles.

    Newton's Three Laws of Motion

    The first law of motion is the law of inertia. The second law states that acceleration (a change of inertia) is directly proportional to the force acting on a given body and inversely proportional to the mass of the body. The third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In Kabbalah, these three laws of motion correspond to the three stages of growth termed “pregnancy” (ibur), “childhood” (yenikah), and “maturity” (mohin). The psychological state of pregnancy is that of experiencing constant, unchanging motion, inertia. In childhood, one experiences himself changing, accelerating, but lacking da’at (“knowledge”), one does not fully appreciate his effect on others. Only when fully mature and ready to marry does one experience the truth of the third law of motion that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    To summarize:

    Newton's law of motion

    stage of growth

    inertia

    pregnancy (ibur)

    acceleration

    childhood (yenikah)

    action and reaction

    maturity (mohin)

     

    The Three Laws of Thermodynamics

    The first law of thermodynamics is the law of the conservation of energy. The second law is the law of entropy. The third law is the law of absolute zero: at absolute zero entropy content and specific heat vanish. These three laws correspond in Kabbalah and Hassidut to three general levels of consciousness a person can attain in his service of G-d. The law of conservation of energy corresponds to the consciousness of “that which is, is” (kiyum hayesh), in the words of Kohelet, “That which was, it shall be.” This is the consciousness of the world of Yetzirah. The law of entropy is encapsulated in the philosophical principle “all that is deteriorates” (kol hoveh nifsad). Positively, this is the consciousness of “the nullification of that which is” (bitul hayesh), the consciousness of the world of Beriah. The law of absolute zero that states that at absolute zero reality as we know it vanishes altogether corresponds to the consciousness of “absolute nullification of reality” (bitul bemitziut), the consciousness of the world of Atzilut.

    To summarize:

    law of thermodynamics

    level of consciousness

    corresponding world

    Conservation of energy

    “that which is, is”
    (kiyum hayesh)

    Yetzirah (“Formation”)

    Entropy

    “nullification of that which is”
    (bitul hayesh)

    Beriah (“Creation”)

    absolute zero

    “absolute nullification of reality”
    (bitul bemitziut)

    Atzilut (“Emanation”)


    Square Numbers in Nature

    Modern science reveals that nature possesses an affinity to square numbers. One important phenomenon of this is that both the force of gravity and the force of electromagnetism obey the inverse square law: these forces weaken proportionally to the square of the distance between the objects. Another important example of this is that the electron content of the shells of the elements rises from “double square” to “double square” (the first electron shell contains 2 electrons, the second 8, the third 18, the fourth 32 etc., according to the expression 2n2). A third example of nature's love for square numbers appears in Einstein’s famous formula: E = mc2. In general, energy is defined in physics as mass times velocity squared. Einstein’s discovery is simply that the total energy of a body is equivalent to its mass times the speed of light squared.

    The meaning of a square number in Kabbalah is the concept of perfect inter-inclusion: every part reflects and manifests within itself all of the parts of the whole. This is the holistic principle of nature, now well known in science. Ultimately, all of creation is interrelated, in every particle the entire universe is encoded. All of nature is one.



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