Common sense has it that one plus one equals two. As is common, common sense is commonly wrong. There are two opposing laws to understanding how the universe works. One is entropy. The other is synergy. Entropy says that two divided by two equals zero. Synergy says that one plus one equals three—the third thing being something completely new. In the language of Kabbalah, that's Tohu and Tikun.

Tohu is how things fall apart. Tikun is how they're put back together again. When they fall apart, the essence-light vanishes and you get entropy—a movement towards chaos and eventual nothingness. When you put them together, a new light emerges as if from nowhere and you get synergy—the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

There's a simple reason things are this way. It's because, when the universe was first conceived, it was conceived as a single whole. In the beginning—the beginning is the sefirah of chochmah (wisdom), the yud, a single point that includes all. Only then comes, Elokim created—the sefirah of binah (understanding), the letter hey, an unfolding of the point. And then, the heavens—the six sefirot of tifferet (beauty), the letter vav, descending downward as a line—and the earth—the sefirah of malchut (dominion) and the final letter hey, the expanse of all creation, so that the initial single point becomes all the creations of an entire universe.

In the beginning





Elokim created





the heavens





and the earth





Then the whole thing blows to smithereens. The result: Our messy world.

It's like an author sat down with a single idea and developed a story around a single theme with a single plot, with every detail, every word wrapped around that one singularity—and then someone came and threw all the letters of his book up in the air, to be scattered to the four winds. The letters are still there, but the story is gone, the plot is gone, the concept is gone. And the author can no longer be found in his words.

That explains why whenever we put two things together in harmony in this world, something new and unexpected always emerges. Atoms become molecules—and suddenly, chemistry emerges. Molecules become organelles and biochemistry emerges. Organelles become cells and life emerges. Then microsystems, then organs, then supersystems, then individuals, then social groups and societies and finally a whole world—with each step, an entirely new wisdom appearing, as though ex nihilo, as we approach the whole.

Yet that whole is not the ultimate whole. The real wholeness of it all is metaphysical. It is the harmony that exists between created and Creator, finite and Infinite. And that only emerges once all the King's men (and women) put all the words of the story back together again.

See World Puzzle.