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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Models of Torah - Part VI - Torah as Worlds, Galaxies and Universes

Some of this post is speculative so please feel free to argue or add to it...

As we approach the Messianic era[i] scientists and philosophers not only discuss worlds and galaxies, but universes and dimensions as well. Some hypothesize that our universe[ii] is but one of the infinite yet interconnected universes that make up a multiverse or omniverse; reality consists of higher and lower planes (and branes!) and multiple dimensions.[iii]

Kabbalistic literature, albeit in a different sense, has described four general universes through which the Divine light is filtered.[iv] These are defined as different dimensions of reality with their own unique properties of space, time, and being.[v] Asiah, the Universe of Action, is the universe with which we are immediately familiar physically and spiritually. Yetzira, the Universe of Formation, is the plane of feeling and song - of angels. B'riah, the universe of Creation, is the dimension of thought and mind.[vi] Atzilut, the world of Emanation, is the world of the Divine, without any concealment.[vii]

These four universes correspond to the four levels of the Torah, PaRDeS (p'shat, remez, d'rash, sod).[viii] Each dimension of Torah is its own universe with its own laws:

P'shat corresponds to Asia in that it's method of interpretation must conform to the logical categories of Asia. The logic of Asia dictates that an interpretation of a text is constrained by literary and cultural context, [ix] principles of human psychology and the laws of time and space.[x] This method of interpretation occurs in a Nefesh-state-of consciousness,[xi] and can be compared to a realistic painting.

Remez corresponds to Yetzira, the universe of emotions and song, since Remez views the text as musical notes,[xii] as symbols intuiting something much greater. There is no connection between the symbol and that which it symbolizes.[xiii] This method of interpretation occurs in a Ruach-state-of-consciousness, and can be compared to an Impressionistic painting.

D'rash corresponds to B’riah[xiv] as it is rule-based interpretation, flowing from the associations of the intellect, but which nevertheless does not conform to the constraints of the linear thinking of P'shat.[xv] Furthermore, it uncovers the “sub-conscious” of the text. This method of interpretation occurs in a Neshama-state-of-consciousness, and can be compared to a Cubist painting.

Sod corresponds to Atzilut as it discusses that universe - interpreting the Torah and the events and laws recorded therein from the perspective of the highest spiritual reality.[xvi] This method of interpretation occurs in a Chaya-state-of-consciousness, and can be compared to an Abstract painting.

Each of these universes contains mansions, or self-contained worlds and galaxies. The Torah, too, is not only composed of Universes, but it also contains infinite worlds and galaxies within each Universe. As R. Hutner writes[xvii]: “Since Hashem looked into the Torah and created the world, therefore, all the seventy[xviii] ways of understanding the Torah have a corresponding seventy worlds parallel to them. Hence, every understanding of Torah reveals a corresponding world that is attuned to that understanding of Torah. Therefore, what one learns in Torah through p’shat confers a happening of p’shat in the world of p’shat[xix]...this is the foundation regarding all the ways in which Torah is learned."[xx] However, as much a each interpretation is its own world, sometimes interpretations are variations on the same theme and thus form a galaxy, an orbit of worlds around a sun.

Indeed, Reality is a multiverse yet it is a unity. "What is below is above." So too the Torah - each level is a higher abstraction of the previous,[xxi] and each level informs the other.[xxii]

[i] See the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rabbis Yitzchak Ginsburgh, Moshe Shatz, Joel david Bakst, and Herman Branover
1589, "the whole world, cosmos," from O.Fr. univers (12c.), from L. universum "the universe," noun use of neut. of adj. universus "all together," lit. "turned into one," from unus "one" (see one) + versus, pp. of vertere "to turn" (see versus). Properly a loan-translation of Gk. to holon "the universe," noun use of neut. of adj. holos "whole"
[iii] For example, see Clifford Pickover, Michio Kaku, Fred Wolf, Bernard Carr, and Alex Vilinkin
[iv] Nefesh ha’Chaim, 1:12
[v] R. Steinsaltz, A Thirteen Peddled Rose, pg. 3, based on Sefer Yetzira.
[vi] Souls (and Seraphs) are from B’riah
[vii] See Siddur ha’Mekubalim on how the four universes are reflected in the Siddur. In short, Birchot ha’Shachar are in Asiah, Pesukei d’Zimra are in Yetzira, Shema is in B’riah, and Shmoneh Esrei is in Atzilut.
[viii] Ohr Gedaelyahu, Breisheit 5b quoting the Sefas Emes (Thanks to R. Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg for this source). This applies to all works written b’Ruach ha’Kodesh. R. Yaakov Elman (Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah, pgs. 242-250) quotes many sources that maintain the view that a work written with Divine inspiration contains multiple levels of meaning (Pardes, Shivim Panim etc.), especially R. Yonasan Eibescheutz (Urim veTumim, kitzur tekafo kohen, nn.123-124), R. Tzadok ha'Kohen (Machesevet Charutz 6a-b), and R Yisrael Dov Ber of Zledniki (Shereit Yisrael 6c).. See Avakesh for a discussion of this.
[ix] One aspect of this is the original intent of the author. Although this is debatable according to Post-Modernists, a) I think it is the common-sense approach, b) interpretations not like the original intent of the text have their place in other methods of interpretation (such as Remez).
[x] However, the events described in the Torah sometimes only occurred in a higher world. R. Dessler (Michtav M'Eliyahu 1: pg 308, based on Maharal, Gevurot Hashem, Second Introduction; see R. Micha Berger here and here) gives examples of miraculous events in the Torah which only occurred in a higher world: a) Yaakov’s “Kefitzat ha’Derech; b) The sun standing still; c) the sea splitting.Also see Ramchal and Leshem on Ma’aseh B’reisheit which is discussed here.
With this said, if one's view of reality is flat then even their p’shat reading of Tanakh will make little or no sense. They will try to force the miraculous into the three dimensions that their senses perceive and bizarre interpretations follow.

[xi] Da’at Hashem, pgs. 349-374 discusses partially that Pardes also corresponds to Naran Ch”y (the five levels of the soul). See Eitz Chayim, Sha’ar Hanhagot ha’Limud, Chapter 1. However, see Sha’ar ha’Gilgulim, Hakdama 18.
[xii] I heard in the name of Shlomo Katz that ReMeZ is ZeMeR backwards. As pointed out above, Pesukei d’Zimra is in Yetzira.
[xiii] R. Hirsch on the beginning of Mishpatim gives the famous analogy of a student’s notes to a lecture regarding d’rash. Also see R. Kook, Kadama l’Eyn Aya for a discussion of Remez.
[xiv] R. Hutner (quoted below) and R. Dessler (Michtav M'Eliyahu 1: pg 308) use this to explain Ta’anit 5b which states “Yaakov did not die” – this is only true in the world of Derash/B’riah.
[xv] Maharal, Be’er ha’Golah, Be’er Shlishi, compares the Torah to a tree. P’shat is the root but d’rash reveals the many-sides of the tree. He relates this to his conception of “Elu v’Elu.” See here and here on Cubism.
[xvi] This level of reality is not written in the Torah except in code. The Maharal, Gevurot Hashem, Chapter 17, explains that this is why the Torah does not explicitly recount how the maidens of Pharoah’s daughter died – they only died a spiritual death. This also explains why olam ha’bah, which occurs in the higher planes, is not mentioned in the Torah explicitly but it is mentioned in Remez, Derash, and Sod.
[xvii] Pachad Yitzchak, Pesach, Ma’amar 52:3. Thanks to R. Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg for the translation.
[xviii] The Vilna Gaon writes that there are forty-nine approaches to the written Torah and seventy approaches to the Oral Torah (Shir haShirim 2:4) and that within the seventy approaches there are six-hundred thousand more approaches (Shir haShirim 5:10).
[xix] R. Hutner calls this world a “world of p’shat” while I’m connecting it to “Asiah.”
[xx] R. Tzadok takes it further - an innovation within one creates an innovation in the other. See the lectures of R. Yaacov Haber for how this played out in Jewish intellectual history. One might wonder if an innovation in Remez only cause an innovation in Yetzira, or does this innovation have a parallel in all of the universes.
[xxi] See Shiurei Da’at, Dor Haflaga for an example of this.
[xxii] Vilna Gaon, Mishlei 5:18, and R. Menachem Mendel of Shklov’s note on Mishlei 2:9

1 comment:

Robert said...

Torah keduma, abstract art, implicate order...

See the following by John David Garcia:

The holographic model [of David Bohm] says that there is an infinite, non-local holographic universe that contains our local finite universe, as well as an infinity of other universes. This infinite universe is a universe of pure, true information. Quantum phenomena in our universe are an expression of the implicate order of the holographic universe expressing itself in the explicate order of our local universe. The holographic universe contains all of its information at each point, as does a regular hologram. Therefore, our local universe contains all the information of the holographic universe at each local point. The hidden variables are quanta of information which pass through the quantum field from the implicate order of the holographic universe to the explicate order of our local universe. Matter in our local universe is transformed by this information in direct proportion to its degree of evolution. These concepts lead to a generalized model of evolution.

"Evolution occurs through a growing hierarchy of ever more complex and intelligent species for incorporating ever more information from the implicate order into their genetic and/or neural structures, thereby transforming themselves into still more intelligent species within the explicate order of our local universe....

... In harmony with Judaism, Spinoza, and quantum mechanics, God, the spirit, may be seen as the infinite, quantum process, outside of our time and space, by which the universe grows forever in creativity as each evolving creature chooses to become closer to God, by growing in intelligence, ethics, and creativity. The simple choice to innovate true behavior, which any living creature, even a cell, can choose to do, catalyzes the transfer of true quantum information from the implicate order to the explicate order of the genes, thereby producing a benign mutation. Evolution by purely random mutations can be shown to be mathematically impossible. Only the implicate order makes evolution possible, through punctuated equilibrium (6). God as an infinite, abstract, spiritual process cannot be represented by visual imagery; as per the Torah we must reject all forms of idolatry and the superstitions for which idolatry is a metaphor.

When we receive information from the implicate order, so that we may perform a creative act, we are communicating with God. When we have only a little scientific information, the quantum information is communicated metaphorically. As we grow in ethics, intelligence, and scientific information, this communication is ever less metaphorical. A major prophet is someone who creatively derandomizes the ethical information from the implicate order and communicates it to humanity, as did Moses with the Torah and as did Isaiah, Elijah, Jeremiah, and the other major prophets. Minor prophets do minor creativity.