There are two searches - the search of the mind and the search of the soul.
The search of the mind is the search of the scientist who searches for wisdom from within the world in an attempt to describe the world he observes. He examines the physical world, experiments and constructs mathematical models and theories to describe what he sees.
The search of the soul is a search for wisdom from above in an attempt to explain the world that it finds itself in. It looks to the Torah for truth and for instruction on how to live.
The search of the soul is a search for wisdom from above and the search of the mind is a search for wisdom from below. The ultimate goal is that the two searches converge, for the same truth must be reached from whichever direction it is approached. But this goal is attained only in the Era of Moshiach (the Messianic Era) when "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as water covers the sea" and all knowledge will converge to and be covered by the knowledge of G-d.
At first glance these two searches would seem to be in conflict with each other. After all, the conclusions of the scientists have often been very different from the teachings of the Torah. In fact, historically, those who studied the sciences often did so with the intent of substituting human perceptions and reason for belief in G-d, and atheistic ideologies would refer to science in its attempt to negate belief in G-d. Thus the belief in the emergence of Moshiach, a personality who will bring the whole world to believe in G-d and to be concerned only with the knowledge of G-d, would seem to be diametrically opposed to everything that science represents.
Yet we find that some of the greatest scientists of the 20th century have said that their study of the universe brought them to an awareness of a Supreme Being above and beyond the universe, or a Creator who created the universe with a definite purpose. Some have even described their research as an attempt to find out what G-d had in mind when He created the universe.
The greatest 20th century scientist, Albert Einstein, expressed this as follows: “I want to know how G-d created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know G-d’s thoughts. The rest are details.” The famous theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, said "If we do discover a theory of everything...it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would truly know the mind of G-d. In 1992, another famous theoretical physicist, Paul Davies, published a book discussing the relationship between science and religion called “The Mind of G-d” which won him the Templeton prize of $1,000,000. The scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome, Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute, in his book "The Language of G-d," writes, "When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind…I can't help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of G-d's mind."
Something must have happened to break the barrier between the search of the mind and the search of the soul and enable their convergence to begin. But what happened and when did it happen?
The answer to this question is to be found in one of the sichos (talks) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe MHM, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, based on the Zohar, the classic text on Kabbalah`, written nearly 2,000 years ago by the great sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The Zohar makes an amazing prediction based on a verse in the Torah about the flood in the time of Noah.
The Torah says that, "In the 600th year of the life of Noah...all the fountains of the depths split open and the windows of heaven opened up" Referring to this, the Zohar makes the following statement: "In the 600th year of the 6th millennium [the year 5600 on the Jewish calendar which corresponds to 1840 on the secular calendar] the gates of wisdom above will open and the fountains of wisdom below and thus the world will be set to enter the 7th millennium," the Messianic Era.
The opening of the “gates of wisdom above” refers to the tremendous revelation of the deeper levels of the Torah - the teachings of Chassidus,especially the publication of the works of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chassidus, which give us a deeper understanding and greater knowledge of G-d. This prepares the world for the coming of Moshiach when "The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d."
The “fountains of wisdom below” refers to the new discoveries in science and the development of new scientific theories. This requires some explanation - how could scientific developments actually play a role in preparing the world for Moshiach? Science has always been considered the enemy of religion. How could it come about that science not only becomes a friend of Judaism but actually helps prepare the world for the greatest Jewish religious event of all time - the coming of Moshiach?!
In the sicha, known in our circle simply as "The Sicha of Parshas Noach", the Rebbe MHM discusses three ways in which the sciences prepare the world for Moshiach: In describing the unique character of the knowledge of G-d in the Era of Moshiach, the Prophet Isaiah says, "All flesh will see that the mouth of G-d has spoken," i.e. that G-dliness itself will be visible. The first way in which modern science and technology prepare us for the Era of Moshiach is by enabling us to visualize certain concepts relating to G-d which would otherwise be understood only abstractly. As an example, the Mishneh in Avos tells us to be aware that there is "an eye that sees and an ear that hears". We believe that G-d is always watching everything we do. Now that we are familiar with communication technology which transmits audio and video signals across the world so that people can be seen and heard instantly on the other side of the world, it is easy to comprehend - to actually visualize and not just believe in - the omnipresent watchfulness of G-d.
Secondly, by making use of the technology derived from the sciences. For example, communication technology can be used to spread knowledge of G-d -Torah - throughout the world. As we said, the Era of Moshiach is characterized as a time when "The earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d." The electromagnetic waves which carry knowledge of G-d over radio or TV bring this information not only to listeners and viewers all over the world, but even to places where there are no listeners, since the electromagnetic waves spread throughout the whole world. Thus these broadcasts actually fill the world with the knowledge of G-d.
On the deepest level, the sciences themselves - the theories developed and the knowledge derived - prepare us for the Era of Moshiach in a third way: the ultimate knowledge of G-d that will be revealed in the Era of Moshiach is the absolute unity of G-d. But the world as we perceive it appears to present an opposite picture of reality - many different forces of nature and many different substances rather than any kind of unity. In the last 160 years, however, it has been shown through scientific research that the various forces of nature are just combinations of a few basic forces and the various substances in the world are built from a few basic components - protons neutrons and electrons. This deeper understanding of the unity within the physical world which was discovered through scientific research helps prepare us for the revelation of the ultimate unity – the Achdus Peshuta, the absolute unity of G-d which is revealed in the time of Moshiach.
The unity that exists within nature is an expression of the unity of G-d, the Creator. Since He is one, His creation, with its multitude of materials and forces, has an intrinsic unity. Thus, our awareness of the unity within nature is essentially an awareness of the unity of G-d. The more that science reveals of the unity inherent within nature, the more the unity of G-d is revealed – from below. This sets the stage for the complete revelation of the unity of G-d from above in the Era of Moshiach.
Thus we may say that the 20th century scientists, who came to an awareness of the Creator through their scientific research, were merely riding the crest of a new wave - a wave from the flood of a new type of knowledge flowing into the world. This was knowledge of a type that showed unity in the world and induced the scientist with an open mind and a sensitive heart to recognize the Supreme Power, the Master Planner who designed and created the universe with a certain purpose in mind.
Theoretical physics, in particular, seems to have developed into a search for G-d. Earlier, we quoted Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Paul Davies who described their quest to know the “mind of G-d.” Davies once wrote that science offers “a surer path to G-d than religion.” Another prominent theoretical physicist, David Finkelstein, described his life’s work as a quest to understand “how G-d might have thought the world into existence.”
An “exception that proves the rule” is the recent book “The Trouble with Physics” by Lee Smolin, a prominent theoretical physicist. It is a survey of the history and current state of affairs of modern theoretical physics. It is not about science and religion. Yet the first sentence of the book reads, “There may or may not be a G-d….” All of a sudden he’s talking about G-d!
What happened here? Was he copying from the wrong manuscript? No. For him theoretical physics is nothing less than what we have described as the “search from below,” as he goes on to explain, “Yet there is something ennobling about our search for the divine…which is reflected in each of the paths people have discovered to take us to deeper levels of truth. Some seek transcendence in meditation or prayer….Another way of engaging life’s deepest questions is science…If they are physicists, they want to know about space and time, and what brought the world into existence.”
For Smolin, it seems that science itself is a search for G-d.
Similarly, it has been asserted that mathematicians whose field of interest is mathematical logic (like me) are not like other mathematicians whose primary interest is the mathematics itself or the applications of mathematics to other areas. Mathematical logicians, it is claimed, are engaged in a metaphysical quest – they are searching for G-d.
An outstanding feature of Smolin’s book is his emphasis on unification. As he traces the development of modern scientific theories, he explains how each new stage of development brought greater unification among the existing theories. (Perhaps Smolin’s emphasis on unification is related to his feeling that science is a search for the divine.) This, of course, is of fundamental importance to us since the unification of the forces and materials of nature is the aspect of modern science that prepares the world for the Era of Moshiach.
...In Messianic Times
The Zohar says that this new flood of knowledge is a prelude to the Era of Moshiach. But what exactly is the Era of Moshiach and who is Moshiach? The Era of Moshiach and Moshiach himself are discussed extensively in the Prophets, the Talmud and Kabbala, and in many subsequent books throughout the generations. In Chapter I, sections 4-6, we present the basic information based on these sources. But for now we want to make the point that we are currently in the Era of Moshiach. There are actually two points to address - one identifying the era and one identifying Moshiach himself.
The emergence of the great Jewish leader who is ultimately revealed as Moshiach, is described by Rambam (Maimonides) in his work on Jewish Law, Mishneh Torah. He describes the sequence of events leading up to the revelation of Moshiach. He begins by stating that Melech HaMoshiach (the King Moshiach), a descendant of King David, will arise and restore the dynasty of King David. He then describes the gradual emergence of the Jewish leader from the House of David who will speak in Torah, deal in Mitzvos, return the Jews to the observance of Judaism, strengthen the observance of Judaism where it has been broken and fight the wars of G-d. This leader is assumed to be Moshiach. This description has characterized the leadership of the Lubavitcher Rebbe since 1950, bringing many Jews to look to him as the leader who would be revealed as Moshiach. While he was opposed to publicizing this until recently, over the years some people who addressed him as Moshiach received a positive response, myself included.
As the Persian Gulf War began to brew at the end of 1990, the world braced itself for an intense, high technology war expected to last for months, while the fear persisted that the international entanglements might naturally lead to a world war as had happened twice before. The Rebbe MHM, however, in his talks during those months, repeatedly quoted a Midrash from the Yalkut Shimoni which foretold the war. The Midrash says that these events would take place in "the year that Melech HaMoshiach is revealed", that the entire world and especially the Jewish people would be worried but that G-d would say (through a prophet) to the Jews, "My children, do not be afraid...the time of your redemption has arrived."
Thus the Rebbe MHM said prophetically that Israel would be safe and encouraged Jews to travel there, and indicated that the war would be over by Purim. Everything happened exactly as he said. Even though 39 Scud missiles fell in Israel, no Jews were killed by them. And the war ended on Purim. It was then clear that this was the revelation of Melech Moshiach. In his talks during 1991-92 the Rebbe MHM stated many times that this was in fact the case and made it clear that he is Melech HaMoshiach. On two occasions in May, 1991, he publicly encouraged the singing of the declaration"Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V'Rabeinu Melech HaMoshiach L'Olam Voed!"(“Long live our master, teacher and Rebbe King Moshiach forever”) and subsequently encouraged many people who were publicizing the fact that he is Moshiach to continue doing so.
It should be emphasized that this phrase, "The time of your redemption has arrived," is the key phrase by which Melech HaMoshiach is identified, as we see from the continuation of the Yalkut Shimoni: "At the time that Melech HaMoshiach comes...he announces to the Jews, 'O, humble ones, the time of your redemption has arrived!’ ” The Rebbe MHM made it clear that he was making the declaration that identified him as Moshiach.
In the summer of 1991, the Rebbe MHM said that with the miraculous victory in the Persian Gulf War, “the words of the Yalkut Shimoni have been fulfilled…and since then, especially from the month of Nisan, the month of Geula, we are already ‘at the time [sha’ah - literally ‘the hour’] that Melech HaMoshiach comes.’” And again, “We have already actually seen wonders that confirm that this is ‘the year in which Melech HaMoshiach is revealed’and even ‘the hour when Melech HaMoshiach comes’ and announces to the Jews, ‘Humble ones, the time of your redemption has arrived’ and even the announcement that ‘Behold, this is Melech HaMoshiach who came’ – that he already came.”
Later that summer he announced that, “All aspects of the Geula have already begun and have already been brought into and accepted in this physical world….So it will be no wonder when the Geula comes immediately.”
We cannot overemphasize the seriousness of a statement such as “All aspects of the Geula have already begun.” It is, in fact, a matter of life and death. For many years the Rebbe MHM objected in the strongest terms to the idea expressed by some that the establishment of the State of Israel was the beginning of the Geula (Atchalta D’Geula) and in a letter written in 1968, after expressing his objection, he concludes by saying:
“…I would not have written all the above had I not seen a danger in this declaration of ‘the beginning of the Geula’ – for this is the only explanation that I have found for the ‘sacrifices’ and deaths [from attacks] in the Holy Land. Among those who have fallen, there are even people who were saved from the Holocaust in an openly miraculous manner. Nevertheless, they fell in the Holy Land – also in an unnatural manner, may G-d avenge their blood.
“The explanation is similar to what has been seen every time that a false Messiah arises and seduces people to follow him – it always ends with ‘sacrifices.’ The same thing applies to the idea that the Geula has already begun….”
Thus, when the Rebbe MHM said in 1991 that “All aspects of the Geula have already begun,” it was a statement made with full certainty, and knowledge of the implications.
(In fact, the scholars who transcribe the sichos and prepare them for the Rebbe MHM to edit, were so astonished by the strength of his statements about the Geula in this sicha that they weren’t sure if they should write it up as a statement of fact or as an expression of prayer. They decided to write it down both ways and to submit both versions. The Rebbe MHM rejected the “prayerful” version by drawing lines through it, and proceeded to edit and publish the “statement of fact” version.)
The Rebbe MHM began to encourage personal initiatives to bring Moshiach in a very powerful speech on 28 Nisan, 5751 (1991) where he addressed himself to the Jewish people with the message, "Do everything in your power...to bring about the actualization of Moshiach Tzidkeinu immediately." Moshiach had already been revealed and we were being instructed to bring this revelation to the world. Many projects to implement this were initiated with the Rebbe MHM's encouragement.
In the spring of 1992, he suffered a stroke, following which the activities to bring Moshiach intensified with his encouragement. Two hundred Rabbinical authorities worldwide signed a Psak Din (Halachic ruling) dated 11 Nisan, 5752 (1992), declaring that the Lubavitcher Rebbe has the assumed status of being Moshiach (B'chezkas Moshiach) as stated in Rambam.
Throughout the year 5753 (1992-1993), whenever the Rebbe MHM would enter "770" for davening (prayers), sometimes three times a day, the service, in which thousands participated, would be followed by the singing of “Yechi Adoneinu….” The Rebbe MHM encouraged this enthusiastically and, on occasion, it was broadcast worldwide via satellite.
In the Talmudic writings there is a description of a conversation that will take place between the Jews and Moshiach after he is revealed. The Jews approach him, addressing him by the title Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach, ("our Rebbe, King Moshiach") and ask him certain questions about the redemption. This is the title by which countless Jews throughout the world now refer to him and thus in this book we refer to him as the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach or theRebbe MHM.
On 27 Tishrei 5754 (1993), I was part of a group that had the privilege to pass before the Rebbe MHM and receive from him a dollar-for-tzedakah. As I passed before him, I greeted him saying, "Shalom Aleichem, Melech HaMoshiach!" and he nodded to me in acceptance.
Melech HaMoshiach has emerged and has been clearly identified. It is the purpose of this book to examine various aspects of our current era, especially in the areas of science and technology, and to identify them as characteristics of the Era of Moshiach - Messianic Times, following the statement of the Rebbe MHM himself on 19 Kislev, 5752 (1991) that we are now living in the Era of Moshiach: "In these days - the Days of Moshiach - which we are now in, all we need to do is open our eyes and then we see that the true and complete Geula is already here, literally."
The idea that one “opens his eyes” to see something means that the thing is already there in front of him, but that he doesn’t really see what he’s looking at. This may mean that he must take a deeper, more penetrating look, possibly on a more abstract or spiritual level. But it could simply be that he is looking at something, or listening to something, and he doesn’t grasp or notice certain aspects of it, even physical aspects. This may be because his senses are not attuned to it or because his mind is not focused on it or is distracted by some other aspect of it.
This happens frequently when one is so preoccupied with the details of what he is considering that he misses the overall picture. This is described by the famous metaphor “he can’t see the forest for the trees.”
In recent years, a technique known as “magic eye” has been developed to generate certain computer images that appear to the viewer as a certain two dimensional scene. For example, in the image reproduced here, it is a field of flowers. When the viewer deliberately “blanks out” his focus and “opens his eyes” he sees a three dimensional image instead of a two dimensional image, with new objects visible in the scene. In this image it is a deer standing in the middle of the field of flowers. The deer – a metaphor for Moshiach – is hiding in plain view! The viewer need only open his eyes.
As another example, a few years ago I heard a report on NPR radio by someone who was researching the chirping of birds. In one case he recorded the chirping of a certain bird that sounded to the human ear as a one tone tweet. But when he played it at a much slower speed, one could hear that this single tweet was actually an entire song with different tones, high notes and low notes etc. All this was blurred at normal speed and thus inaudible to the human ear.
The story is the same for all our senses, as well as our intellectual perception. For that matter, the history of science is replete with the misperceptions of one generation being corrected by the revolutionary new theories of the next generation.
The Rebbe MHM is telling us that the same is true of the world as we are used to looking at it – a world of Golus. But this is a misperception due to our past experience and former ways of looking at things. He is now telling us to open our eyes and see Geula in the world. That is the purpose of this book.
Moshiach and Science
In the ensuing period (late 1991-1992), the Rebbe MHM made stronger statements about our time being the Messianic Era, saying that all aspects of the Geula had already begun and discussing the fulfillment of some of the Messianic prophecies, such as "Swords Into Plowshares," at great length. He instructed people to live their lives in accordance with this new era. He directed the Jewish people to strengthen their observance of Judaism and the study of the Torah – especially topics related to the Geula, and the non Jews to increase in acts of goodness and kindness and the observance of the "Seven Noahide Laws."
One of his statements, from the beginning of 1992, made a strong impression on me personally as a mathematician: "We have to investigate the role that everything in the world will play in the Era of Moshiach." This includes mathematics and science. My work in mathematics took on a new meaning, a new dimension. It was part of the wisdom from below that was preparing the world for Moshiach and was to play a role in the Messianic era itself. This was very exciting.
The year 1992 also marked the 40th yartzeit (anniversary of the passing) of the youngest brother of the Rebbe MHM, Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Schneerson who was a great Torah scholar, especially in the area of Chassidic Philosophy, and a mathematician by profession. His life story had exerted a profound influence on my own development and thinking. Thus I was moved to commemorate the 40th yartzeit by organizing a conference on the theme "The Role of Science in the Era of Moshiach". This conference took place in S. Paul, Minnesota, where I was then living. The keynote speaker was the world renowned Lubavitcher Chosid and mathematician Professor Pesach (Paul) Rosenbloom, who had edited and published a well known mathematical paper of Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib.
In March of 1993, I received the approval and blessing of the Rebbe MHM to publish the proceedings of the Minnesota conference and to organize a similar conference in New York (my new place of residence), to mark the 41st yartzeit. During that conference, on May 2, 1993, I received the approval and blessing of the Rebbe MHM to establish the "Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Research Institute on Moshiach and the Sciences" to conduct research on the connection between developments in the sciences and the Messianic Era, and to organize annual conferences.
The RYAL Institute has sponsored annual conferences every year since then on the yartzeit of Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib, as well as other conferences and seminars in major cities of the world including Tel Aviv, New York, Montreal, Toronto and Chicago. The lecturers have included some of the most prominent religious Jewish scientists of our time including Professor Alvin Radkowsky, designer of the United States nuclear navy (under Admiral Rikover) and the Radkowsky Thorium Nuclear Reactor; Dr. Naftali (Norman) Berg, Director Research of the Advanced Technology Office of the Army Research Laboratory of the Pentagon, and Prof. Yirmiyahu (Herman) Branover, director of the Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) Laboratories at the University of the Negev, Israel.
Structure of the Book
This book is based on those lectures with much new material added to provide background or to complete topics discussed in the lectures so that the book will be self contained. Chapter I, "Wisdom From Above...Wisdom From Below", provides historical background and introduces concepts - both in Chassidic philosophy and in modern science - necessary for a full appreciation of the lectures. Chapter II, "Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Schneerson," is an in depth biography of the chosid who was the inspiration for the RYAL Institute, and Moshiach and science research in general. (His famous mathematical paper, “The Location of Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors of Complex Matricies,” and a commentary on it by a contemporary mathematician are presented in the Appendix.) It also includes a report on the Minnesota conference. Chapter III, "Swords Into Plowshares," contains lectures on the transformation of military technology to peaceful uses. This worldwide phenomenon has been called "the trend of history" by some physicists. Chapter IV, "The Convergence of Science to Torah", contains lectures discussing ways in which the theories and attitudes of science are coming closer to the truth of the Torah. We call this "the trend of science". Chapter V, "The Quest for Unification," contains lectures that describe scientific models for Torah concepts. Chapter VI, "Special Lectures" contains two self contained lectures delivered by Professor Branover and myself. Chapter VII, "A Look to the Future", investigates the ultimate status of the sciences further into the Era of Moshiach. Finally, the Appendix contains the full story of the Doctor's Plot (in connection with Chapter I, section 5), Education Day USA (in connection with Chapter III, sec. 2) and the mathematical papers.