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How Real Is Stuff? Part II

How Real Is Stuff? Part II

The Mystery of Matter, a three-part series


In the first installment of this series, I was pondering why I can’t put my hand through the table, walk through the wall, or fall through planet Earth. After all, everything is made of mostly empty space.

The answer was provided by Wolfgang Pauli, who discovered a fundamental principle in quantum physics, known as the exclusion principle, which has a lot of similarities to baseball. Basically, the exclusion principle grants every particle of matter exclusive rights over its quantum state, just like the rules of baseball grant each player an exclusive role on the diamond. Merging two chunks of matter into the same space would inevitably involve many violations of those exclusivity rights—something like bringing two teams onto the same diamond. And so, it can’t happen.

I found a simile to this in halachah—since everything that exists in the world first exists in Torah. Every letter in a Torah scroll must be surrounded by white space, or else that Torah is not whole. Diversity is essential to wholeness. The same with the roles allotted to kohanim and levi’im in the Temple.

Pauli thought of the universe as a single, deep psyche. But how does a psyche become tangible stuff?

I noted that Pauli himself was mystified by all this (along with all the rest of quantum physics), as were many of his colleagues. How does every particle know its state and the state of every other particle in the universe? Pauli thought of the universe as a single, rather large, deep psyche. But even then, how does a psyche become tangible stuff?

To attempt to answer that, let’s first take a step back:

Does Matter Matter?

What does the exclusion principle really tell us that we didn’t already know? We all know that matter occupies space to the exclusivity of other matter. Now we’re just generalizing that, and expanding its scope somewhat. We’re saying that all of matter’s particles occupy a quantum state to the exclusivity of all others. What difference does it make, conceptually?

It makes a big difference. It means our world is not a hodgepodge world of many different things that somehow work together. Rather, the very diversity of the universe is itself dictated by a single principle.

In Do Jews Believe In Nature? I discussed the paradigm shift from the ancient idea of nature to our modern conception. The ancient Greeks thought of nature as the innate properties of each thing. In that way, their philosophy never left behind its polytheistic roots; the view of the universe they constructed always remained fractured, a universe built of bits and pieces. But modern science starts from the top down, considering universal laws or patterns. Newton et al began by considering G‑d’s creation to be a universe, a singularity—and so they discover it to be so.

Matter remains an exception. Matter is one ancient conception we cling to in desperation, as though releasing our grasp would drop our entire reality into a vast cosmic shredder. When it comes to matter, we continue thinking like Aristotle, even as we do science like Newton.

When it comes to matter, we continue thinking like Aristotle, even as we do science like Newton.

The Greeks took for granted that the world was made of some sort of stuff, though they weren’t quite sure whether it was water, air, fire or atoms. Aristotle finally gave matter its own name, hyle, which literally meant “a raw hunk of wood.” Together with some sort of form, matter had substance. Substance meant that it extended outward—meaning it takes up space.

Aristotle also held that this hyle was eternal. Maimonides famously dissented with that notion, and Nachmanides (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, 13th century) wrote in his classic commentary on Genesis that hyle was the first creation—“and the earth was tohu and bohu”—tohu referring to hyle.

Whatever the stuff was and wherever it came from, nobody in the West questioned the basic proposition for thousands of years. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the Irishman George Berkeley (pronounced Barklee, 1685–1753) proposed to trash the entire notion. Berkeley’s investigations into perception and illusion led him to believe that matter is nothing more than a subjective experience. The true reality, he claimed, is nothing but G‑d’s ideas. He didn’t deny that individual things exist. Apples, rocks, wind and water—these exist, he said, because they are ideas of the divine mind. The stuff we call matter, however, is nothing more than a construct, an epiphenomenon of the human mind.

Mostly, the notion was rejected offhand. Samuel Johnson responded by exclaiming, “I refute it thus!” while kicking a rock. No, I’m not sure I get that either. But the tangibility of matter, it seems, is so central an experience to the human subject that it renders it almost impervious to question. Berkeley’s “immaterialism,” as he called it (or “subjective idealism,” as others later referred to it), was most notable by the reaction it spurred. It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century, two hundred years after his death, that a new generation of spiritual seekers found resonance in his view of reality.

Yet in a very different world a strikingly similar idea arose, and was embraced and developed over the generations.

Conservation of Matter

Kabbalists are principally concerned with what is going on in worlds beyond our own; R. Schneur Zalman’s principal concern is the material world here and now.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi established the Chabad school in the latter half of the 18th century, when Jewish theology was still mostly couched in Kabbalistic terms. But R. Schneur Zalman’s Kabbalah is different. Kabbalists are principally concerned with what is going on in worlds beyond our own, how our actions affect those worlds, and how to experience their supernal bliss. Rabbi Schneur Zalman discusses those matters as well, and in great detail. But his principal concern is not any higher world—it’s the material world here and now. Similarly, when it comes to theology, the concern of Rabbi Schneur Zalman is not “how do we know there is a G‑d?” but “how is it possible that there is a world?” Although firmly steeped in an ancient, living forest of tradition, in more ways than one R. Schneur Zalman’s thinking sits firmly within modernity.

I have no evidence that R. Schneur Zalman ever saw Berkeley’s work or heard discussion of it.1 But I do find it notable that his definitive treatment of the subject was delivered in a talk2 in 1810—exactly one hundred years after Berkeley had published his ideas on subjective reality for the first time.

Of course, there is a vast distinction: Berkeley, writing as a scholar of the Enlightenment, did not feel bound to a legacy of received wisdom. It sounds strange, but R. Schneur Zalman, as progressive and radical as he might have been, always remained nevertheless a traditionalist.

The same with that talk in 1810: Rather than introduce a new idea, he demonstrates how all that the philosophers troubled over and the Kabbalists described in mystic terms can be found in the simple words of the book of Genesis—and from there they are illuminated. Once you realize the concepts those words present, everything else becomes utterly transformed.

Everything Matters

R. Schneur Zalman had explored the concept of matter in great depth beforehand, but it’s in this discussion that he shifts the terminology. Since Plato and Aristotle, the terminology of philosophers was “form and matter,” of which all reality is composed. Form includes the shape, the properties and the nature of each thing. Matter is that which takes form—you could say, the “isness” of the thing.

In the Hebrew Bible, there seems to be no concept of stuff being made of anything at all.

But, just as there is no biblical word for “nature,” so there is no word for “matter” or “stuff.” In the Hebrew Bible, there seems to be no concept of stuff being made of anything at all. Everything exists because the Creator says it exists. “And G‑d said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light.”3 “With the word of G‑d, the heavens were made.”4

That’s one Hebrew paradigm, and so, the word for “thing” is most often davar—which literally means “word.” But there’s another paradigm in the Hebrew Bible: Everything exists because G‑d wants it to exist. “All that He desired, G‑d made, in the heavens and the earth.”5 And so, in post-scriptural, Mishnaic Hebrew, an object is called a chefetz,6 meaning “a desire.”7

So, R. Schneur Zalman takes these two notions—desire and speech—and employs them to demystify form and matter.

Form, he says, is an artifact of the Creator’s desire. “Nothing is beyond pleasure,” says the Book of Formation. Before the desire to take pleasure in a created world, there is nothing, not even a concept or even a possibility of form, for all begins with a choice to desire. Not a choice obligated by any need or inclination—for that too would imply some precedent of form. It would imply that “because the Creator was this way and not that way, therefore he desired this and not that.” But no, the Creator has no way of being. The Creator simply is. And so, His choice has no precedent, no cause. It is an absolute choice. A choice that there will be desire.

Desire, pleasure—these imply diversity. There is no pleasure in uniformity. Why? Because the primal desire of all desires was the desire for a multifarious world, a world of constant change, of opposites and counterpoints, of tension and resolution, of fire and water, snow and smoke, crystals and vapor, order and chaos, of one becoming many and many becoming one, of no two instances of time or space alike. All delight that ever existed originates in that primal seed of desire, and therefore all delight is in diversity and novelty.

The form of each thing is its conception in the Creator’s will and wisdom. Much as Berkeley wrote, things are divine ideas.

Once there is desire, there is conception. Conception is the funnel through which desire is translated into ideas. In the language of the Kabbalah, desire is keter, the crown; conception is chochmah, wisdom. “How diverse are your works, O G‑d,” sings David; “all of them You made with wisdom.”8

Wisdom is where the parameters of this diverse universe are conceived. Like the artist’s flash of inspiration, the genius’s “I got it!”—not yet articulated, not yet fully grasped—more like a lightning bolt provides vision on a dark night, revealing an entire landscape in utter clarity, if but for a fraction of a moment. So too, when desire conceives wisdom, endless diversity condenses into a single point.

From that point a universe bursts forth, through the medium of the other sefirot, into its multitudinous forms and functions, always retaining that harmony and elegance of wholeness achieved in wisdom.

Which means that the form of each thing—that which makes one an apple, another a crocodile, yet another a massive fiery ball of hydrogen and helium—is its conception in the Creator’s will and wisdom. Much as Berkeley wrote, things are divine ideas.

Matter of Speech

Matter, however, is something quite different. Matter is an artifact of speech. Here, R. Schneur Zalman breaks ground that Berkeley did not enter—ironically, through the aid of tradition. And by doing so, he resolves much of the criticism Berkeley received. By connecting matter to divine speech, rather than ideas, he is able to explain why matter seems so darned real.

Speech, R. Schneur Zalman says, is tsimtsum—the process by which the Creator goes into hiding,so to speak, to allow a context for creation. Matter is an artifact of the Creator’s lack of presence.

What does speech have to do with hiding? In other talks and writings, the connection between the two becomes clearer.

Funny thing about speech: it requires someone else to speak to. Sitting on your own, you can think, you can emote, you can act—you can be a complete human being. There’s just one thing that’s rendered superfluous, and that’s speaking. Speech implies an other—a being who is not you, in whose self you are not present.

Speech, after all means a lot more than vibrating vocal cords and mouthing sculptured sound waves. Yes, you can do that on your own. But you’re not really speaking in the full sense of the word unless there’s someone else to hear. Human speech and language is principally about hearing—hearing yourself from within the ears of another. One who cannot hear how he sounds from within another person’s mind cannot really be said to be speaking.

What if there is no other around to speak to? Well, if you’re one of us mortals, you can always put some coconut hair on a volleyball and speak to it. But if you’re the Creator, then you can create a bona fide, full-blown other all your own. How? By removing any sense of your presence from a conceptual space and speaking to a conceptual being within that space. By tsimtsum.

That’s exactly what speech means for the Creator: creating a space of otherness, and hearing Himself from there. For us, there must be someone else there before we can speak. For Him, otherness is created by implication. If G‑d is speaking, there must be others.

When we say “G‑d spoke,” we’re saying that He created a subjective experience of His ideas.

So when we say “G‑d spoke,” we’re saying that He created a subjective experience of His ideas.9 He created a world of otherness, a place of beings that perceive themselves as autonomous entities, and therefore walk around inside all these ideas perceiving them as well as autonomous things. In other words, as matter.

If we overcome that subjectivity and cease to sense ourselves as others, there could be no sense of matter, or of space or time. All would be a singularity, that single flash of an idea before it has been fleshed out and articulated, as a single point in simple, pure oneness, and yet higher, as a quiet yen, hidden and unknown, the absolute desire of He who is beyond infinite.

As R. Schneur Zalman had already written many years earlier:10

Why does every created phenomenon appears to us as a tangible something? Only because our physical eyes cannot perceive the G‑dly force . . . within that created phenomenon. If, however, the eye would be allowed to perceive this energy . . . we would no longer perceive the physicality of any created being. Its existence would be absorbed and annulled within the context of the energy running through it.

What is that energy? Now, years later, R. Schneur Zalman tells us, it is divine desire translated into divine wisdom translated into divine articulations we call words of speech. Desire, wisdom, speech. Basically, a story is being told.

The Creator invents a world that tells a story, and then generates beings that will perceive it for Him. The purpose of the story is not to be a story, and the point of having those other-like beings is not so they should remain others. The story has meaning; the beings have purpose. The purpose of the beings (us) is to discover the meaning of the story (our world), and thereby to reveal the Storyteller within it (real soon).

That is the ultimate desire of the desire—that the Creator’s essence be found in His story. And that is the whole matter of matter: It is nothing more than the Creator allowing us to experience His thoughts from the inside. It is the divine, in tangible form.

Not So Fast!

As for our story—the one I’m writing here—it’s not yet over. As I’ve left matters, you might think that material reality is entirely an illusion. Well, I can’t leave you thinking that. Because, if so, your response might just be to abandon all involvement in the material world, as much as possible, to redeem yourself from this illusion. Starvation, poverty and war could be ignored, because, after all, they’re also just illusions. If there’s no physicality, how real can physical pain be?

But that’s not Torah. Torah demands taking care of this world, taking the pain and suffering of others seriously and doing something about it. The great majority of Torah mitzvahs involve material objects, and those material objects gain sanctity through the mitzvahs we do with them. The mitzvahs can’t be understood simply as devices to escape our subjective experience of otherness, because even great tzaddikim such as Moses and Aaron were obliged to fulfill them in just the same way as anyone else.

So, to explain why matter really matters, there’s another installment coming up.

We do find his great-grandson and heir, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch (known as the Rebbe Maharash) affirming that the world is not an illusion, bringing evidence from halachah. Sefer ha-Maamarim 5629, p. 148 (in editions after 5752, p. 161). Also Hemshech Mayim Rabim 5636, pp. 175ff. See also his son, Rabbi Shalom DovBer of Lubavitch, Sefer ha-Maamarim 5643, pp. 95ff.
Psalms 135:7. See also ibid. 115:3.
Nedarim 3:1; Gittin 3:5; Bava Metzia 4:10. In the Hebrew Bible, however, the meaning never leaves the context of “desire.” See commentary of Metzudat Tziyon to Ecclesiastes 1:1.
See, however, commentary of Ramban to Genesis 1:3, where he interprets “G‑d said” as “G‑d desired.”
Generally, this is called tsimtsum.
Shaar ha-Yichud veha-Emunah, chapter 3 (first published in 1796). Although this is the second book of his Likkutei Amarim (known as the Tanya), it was composed earlier.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Cynthia Meirah Voormeij Hoorn nh September 17, 2016

"But, just as there is no biblical word for “nature,” so there is no word for “matter” or “stuff.” In the Hebrew Bible, there seems to be no concept of stuff being made of anything at all. Everything exists because the Creator says it exists. “And G‑d said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light.”3 “With the word of G‑d, the heavens were made.”4" I don't agree with this statement for as His Name ( whom He IS) means: the absolute Essence, the word for "nature" is therefore Essence. Those who are His own are ( have) therefore also the essence: a child of their Father/ Creator. Those who haven't/ and or "lost" it, are also of His Essence as in Him being Creator of all ( be alive forever) but those who aren't in their "essence" nature because they are , are doing, evil, are "full" of "nothing" and will "live forever" as such... Reply

David Chester Petach Tikvah, Israel May 12, 2016

Faith and Scientific Knowledge I have trouble with pure faith. It is 100% certain without any space for doubt, and that means that one should either accept it or abandon it as being false--or maybe there is a third way?. On the other hand, scientific knowledge is never 100% certain because it is based on the use of hypothetical theories which are capable of deeper development, when better experiments are devised which show that the theory needs to be improved. Since the associated mathematics is known to be only a convenient way for modelling the theory, its use in providing any kind of absolute proof is limited. Due to His creation, is scientific knowledge a path to the mind of G-d?

If there was some kind of less than 100% faith, I would be all for it, because it could then be science-related and we would imperfectly know more, and be better off than before. This makes a case for the agnostics, as being people who have doubts, but which are in a better state due to their imperfect state of acceptance. Reply

Hilda Zeigler Gales Ferry January 13, 2016

How real is stuff part 2 Dear Rabbi Freeman,
Thank you for this lesson. I have always intuited that The Book of Genesis was in some way foundational to belief in God, evolving theological constructs, and the interfacing with the physical realm. Know I understand from whence the intuition arose. Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA October 4, 2013

Re: Judy I would not feel comfortable with allowing more Judaism into my life for several reasons. The main reasons center on that several of my family dynamics are stressed when I participate in chabad, and I don't believe any chabad rabbi would support increasing family tensions in the name of Hashem. For example, certain members of my family find me to be hyper religious already, such that they find it irritating when I study, unless I study in secret, which is pretty much what I already do. However, I appreciate your concern. Reply

judy October 4, 2013

Hi Craig --you have a lot of thoughts and questions that need a rabbinical teacher to address. Have you thought about taking classes, going to yeshiva, or having in depth regular conversations with a Chabad rabbi? For instance, equating forgiveness with increased halacha and decreased life expectancy. You have some assumptions that may or may not be accurate. If you have read the prayers you know that forgiveness is a central aspect of a Jewish life. If you think Jews are living shorter lives its probably more about the sad diet westerners eat more than anything! Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA October 1, 2013

Re: Judy In a different article I related that as the amount of laws increase in Torah, life expectancy decreases, possibly a coincidence, possibly not. Maybe that means forgive. I like Torah but I am more of a tagalong at I like the study. I like most of the practices. Interestingly, Jews aren't sure where Judaism began. Was it Eber, which translates as Hebrew? Was it Abraham? Something certain I read on is that something unique happened to the Jews at Mt. Sinai that imparted Jewishness to this very small nation. Edom rejected Judaism, in favor of idols, but in the 3rd generation the gate opened. Jewish names appeared in Edomite genealogies. That is where I believe I am at; the space between. Maybe my son or his son will. That 3rd generation thing might just be what makes it impossible for me to become a Jew. In any case, I am happy and live a good life. Maybe my destiny is to find a home with the Semite and the Hebrew nations of earth. Reply

Judy olam hazeh August 25, 2013

the Noachide Code Hi Scott: Check out Rabbi Freeman's article on the 7 Noachide Laws. If you search the chabad website there is a wealth of information on how the 70 nations were commanded by Hashem through Noah's revelation. Each nation was given their own sacred path by our Creator, and each tradition- with the Noachide laws as its foundation- is holy. Reply

Scott Cunningham Boca Raton, FL August 23, 2013

Re: Everything is Hashem Aug.22, 2013 Judy please tell me what are these laws that Hashem gave the gentiles that I being a gentile am suppose to aver to? Reply

Judy olam hazeh August 22, 2013

Everything is Hashem and every Jew knows how much He tests! Craig, if you want to convert, but your landlord says he 'will raise the rent' if you become a Jew . . . maybe you should not be renting from a Jew-hater? Maybe Hashem was asking you if you were authentically sincere and can face the same challenges that all Jews deal with? Every Rabbi who does conversions will send you away if you ask to convert just like your anti-semitic landlord.... But why not just be a righteous gentile and observe the laws that Hashem gave the gentiles? Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA August 22, 2013

Not A Jew Folks might be surprised, but I am not a Jew. Once, I almost converted. Someone even offered to sponsor me, but my landlord who was giving me a discount on the rent threatened to raise my rent to a level I couldn’t afford, if I converted.
Judaism is my whole world though I am not a Jew. I may be considered a convert to the Hebrew nation or the Semites, of the 70 nations of earth. I consider myself a friend of the Jews, and it made me very happy to know that I was told that I would not be treated as a gentile by Jews.
As for the Torah, I believe every word of it, more than most any normal person, except, "Be fruitful and multiply," was a command for all time. I know that this is a command given to gentiles as well as Jews. However, I see it as a dystopia for gentiles, such as in China where all their major rivers are polluted. Because the Jewish population was decimated by the Nazi’s, I fully understand and bless the Orthodox urge to get the Jewish population to be more numerous. Reply

Scott Cunningham Boca Raton, FL August 20, 2013

Anonymous August 19, 2013 a final comment What is the single most important item in my life? This is deep metaphysical Torah study and here is one reason I do. In the Holy Zohar in Miketz it says this: "When a man or woman studies Torah and is always faithful to it, you are strengthened in the Tree of Life and when you are strengthened in the Tree of Life in this world, you are strengthened in it for the World to Come. And, when the souls leave this world, grades are prepared for them in the World to Come". The Tree of Life is in the center of the the Garden of Eden and is accessible equally from all sides. The Holy Name resides in the Garden of Eden and awaits all souls who enter and rejoices with those souls who join this intelligent energy force in the Garden of Eden. Besides why should only the Jews have all the fun of studying the Holy Torah. Reply

Scott Cunningham Boca Raton, FL August 20, 2013

RE: Anonymous August 19, 2013 Excellent comment. We all are energy as Hashem (the Name) is an intelligent energy, after-all we are made in the Names' image. Everything is energy as everything is G-d. I know nothing of Science. What I know (and not all of it) is the Holy Torah which is this stuff we call Science. Everything to be discovered or invented is already here on this planet. Martial Arts are no different. By having the ability to force your hand through energy denser than the flesh and bone of your hand is having 100% certainly that your hand is going through these materials. This is mind over matter. If you let doubt creep in on you, it may cause you to break your hand. Having certainly is a life lesson in anything we do. Doubt is the killer of all that we don't do. Learn to filter doubt out of your thoughts and be diligent in your Torah studies deep under the garment. We live in a physical world controlled by metaphysical energy so tap into it through the Holy Torah. This is the one and only Name. Reply

Anonymous August 19, 2013

Re: Scott Cunningham Aug. 12 Scott, thank you for your response. i think i understand from your reply how the martial arts instructor tells the students how to apply the force (G_d bless, Star Wars, may the force be with you!!), of energy because on occasion i have a DVD that instructs me in how to do TAI CHI. so, when i am doing the moves (forms) in tai chi, i can actually feel the chi (Qi) force of energy running right through me.
So, then the student uses the force of his energy (as in a state of flux) to separate the board or table.
I am not sure if i expressed this idea very well, but please send me a reply, Scott. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma August 19, 2013

The Book of Ruth Since what I wrote was directly addressed, I can say this: this is a mighty diverse world, a world created by this same Creator. IF it's all about us Jews, then everyone has been in everybody's tents around the world, and this story means, everyone, at some time, has been Jewish. I say this, because equality is the name of the game here, and diversity everywhere, if you look around, is about more than apples and oranges. The entire world is amazing. There are more flowers for example, than I could ever have dreamed possible when I subscribed to a site called The Secret Language of Flowers. They just keep coming. Discovery is an endless process and we're all in this together. What gives anyone a right, to proclaim in such certain terms, I KNOW. In fact, there are others who claim Messianism, and they aren't Jewish. I would say, sadly, that if I were not a Jew, reading some of the comments, smack of total arrogance and I would be mightily offended, even at The Almighty. Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA August 18, 2013

Re Ruth Below I give a quote, and the word "the" is used because the Jews are separate from peoples of the world, as Hashem's chosen. According to Judaism, Jews are not one of many chosen peoples, but that Jews have "the" exclusive right to be Gd's special people (while the door is completely open to join the Jews). True many gentiles will be in the World to Come, but not every soul of their nation. "All Israel has a share in the World to Come as is stated: And your people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever. They are the (big emphasis on "the") shoot of My planting, the (big emphasis on "the") work of My hands, in which I take pride." Sanhedrin 11:1." Truly the world is all about the Jews, as the words of Hashem clearly state it. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma August 15, 2013

Is Matter, Hebrew? a response to a commentary above I find that notion, rather "bruising" to other people around the Globe who identify themselves in different ways. In fact, that feels rather, patronizing, to think matter is all about the Jews, all things Hebrew. Surely HE brewed, a world that is about us all. Meaning all colors and creeds. Call it, The rainbow coalition. If it is, all Torah, as has been said many times on these pages, then Torah, the precepts, are echoic, around the world, in other cultures, and in many other writings, philosophical ways, and worship... and if you were to examine spirituali practices and thinking around the world, you would find a mighty compelling set of complementary ideas. I would hazard a strong guess, that no Messiah, if there is ONE person, who will suddenly be heralded, as IT, would EVER speak to the world, in terms other than that embrace, that honors them, totally, their own rites and their own sense of what is, Divine.

I thought humility is key. Remember Moses? And that doesn't feel humble. Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA August 15, 2013

Because Hebrew Is Defined As Matter…(as I commented in part I of this series) It therefore follows that if matter, Hebrew, is violated, then a sin has occurred. Thus, by implying that matter is Hebrew, it is implied that their must be A Way of Life that can be lived in accordance to Hebrew rules, and that Gd created the world to be Hebrew, and that this will only be realized in the age of Messiah. Reply

Judy Olam Hazeh August 13, 2013

I'm not a physicist but doesn't water and physical force work in a similar fashion, just that the water separates concrete slowly over time (therefore, btw, validating the existence of 'time')?. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma August 13, 2013

About Matter This quote came my way today, and it's apt, so I am including this here, from a Great Man, a great humanitarian and also a physicist who did open, a door, a portal to the universe.

"Once you can accept the universe as matter that came from nothing and is expanding into something that is made of nothing, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy."
- Albert Einstein Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA August 12, 2013

Re: Sandra I tried to answer that question, but perhaps I failed earlier. How is this for an answer; if you hit the table and then it separates, then you have intiated an event called flux. As the table separates, this event is as flux but not nearly as much flux as if you tapped some water, for example. It is such that flux depends on properties, where water and the table have different properties, such that the response is different even though the word that describes them is the same. Reply

A growing collection of essays on motifs of Chabad thought as they relate to today's world.