The Messianic Role of Science and Technology
The prophesized imperative of the maps, models and metaphors of the New Sciences in spiritual global evolution and the redemption process.
The Prophetic Confluence
Between Science & Kabbalah
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic [miracles].(1)Arthur C. Clarke
With the gradual opening of the gates of wisdom above and below the messianic revelation that will begin from the year 1840 will resemble the wisdom of King Solomon in his day. R. Hillel of Shklolv
The Door of Models, one of the four entrances into the Mind of Moses, subsumes that a futuristic, higher-dimensional reunion of Torah and science is prophesied, i.e. cosmically mandated and vitally necessary for an imminent global paradigm shift to ensue. As explained below and throughout Beyond Kabbalah that futuristic, higher-dimensional reunion of Kabbalah with the New Sciences is here now and the tools are readily available.
As emphasized throughout this work, the relationship between Torah and science, specifically between Kabbalah and the New Sciences, is crucial. Without securely grasping this prophetic rendezvous it is impossible to go Beyond Kabbalah. The following introduction was first presented above in Part 1 as The Secret Soul of the Seven Sciences (Step 3 — A Fork in the Road: To Skhlov or the Chelm?). (For an in-depth examination of Kabbalah and the New Sciences see The Secret Doctrine of the Gaon of Vilna, Volumes I and II).
The past century and especially the last several decades have brought a great interest in expanded human potential. There is a full and growing library in the subject of, what has been called, the confluence of mysticism and the New Sciences. Kabbalah, the Jewish esoteric tradition, has long envisioned and even required an evolving interface between scientific discovery and esoteric truth.
Within the ancient volumes of the Holy Zohar, a vision of a new global paradigm is recorded, not to begin unfolding until many centuries in the future:
In the 6th century of the 6th millennium (i.e., in the years 5,500-5,600 in the Hebrew calendar corresponding to the years 1740-1840 CE.) the gates of wisdom from above (Kabbalah) and the fountains of wisdom from below (science and technology) will be opened up and the world will make preparations to enter the 7th millennium just as one makes preparations on the 6th day of the week when the sun is about to set [for the 7th day – the Shabbat]. (2)
This passage has been explained by the Talmudic Sage-Mystics of Israel, the Hassidic masters and specifically by the Sages of Shklov, as referring to the fact that from the 18th — and especially from the 19th — century onward, the Kabbalah would experience a profound renewal clarifying and rendering more accessible her own esoteric traditions.(3) Any student of contemporary mysticism cannot but be astounded by the relatively recent dramatic accessibility of the Kabbalah and its new and ever increasing popularity. (4)
Paralleling the revelations of “wisdom from above,” this prophecy necessitates revolutionary discoveries occurring simultaneously in the secular world, re the “wisdom from below. ” Stimulated by the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, the wellsprings of theoretical models and new technology have incessantly burst forth. A wholly new paradigm of scientific thought – and consciousness – is emerging. The year 1840 witnessed the emergence of electromagnetic theory, which in turn paved the way for the discovery of radio waves, telecommunications, television, computers, and the investigation of atomic energy and the development of the atomic bomb. New psychological and neurological descriptions of the brain, ethnopharmacology, black hole phenomenon, genetic engineering, lasers and holography, are further examples of the changes and ideas that have taken place in our generation. Of even greater significance has been the effect of the early 19th century breakthroughs of non-Euclidean geometry, which set the stage for the 20th century theories of Einstein’s relativity, quantum mechanics, and the search for the Unified Field Theory. Currently, under the name of “Super Strings,” this theory is being proclaimed by leading physicists as an unmistakable genesis of a new physics. Most recently, the scientific community and public at large are being initiated into a new world of fractal geometry, chaos theory, virtual reality and the ever accelerating, neural network of the worldwide Internet.
According to the teachings of esoteric Judaism, all knowledge, both spiritual and material wisdom, originally coexisted in a seamless unity within a higher dimension. Together, these two modes of wisdom comprised a larger, all-encompassing Universal Torah (Torah literally meaning “instruction” or “teachings”). A collapse, i.e., the episode of the eating from the Tree of Knowledge, however, ensued in which the database of all knowledge split itself into “spiritual” and “material” planes of existence. Thus, we have the roots of the conflict between “religion” and “science.” Yet, any given mystical or technological truth can only be one of two sides of the same puzzle. Thus, the material world is also a mode of spirituality, only externalized and concretized. Vice-versa, the spiritual world is a mode of the material reality, only internalized and spiritualized.
From both a secular and scientific perspective, as well as from a fundamentalist religious perspective, this unique synergistic re-union is very challenging, if not intimidating and appears “heretical.” Yet, this is the explicit doctrine of the Gaon of Vilna and his clandestine cadre of Talmudic Sage-Mystics of Skhlov. The ultimate truth is not revealed through the supra-natural alone nor is it only discovered through scientific development – it is more than both. Both forms of wisdom are destined to reunite. Perforce, this is stimulating a worldwide paradigm shift in consciousness. These stages of global evolution are aspects of the Messianic Era which is central to the teachings of esoteric as well as traditional Judaism. (5)
According to this tradition, our role as the “Final Generation” in the re-unification of these two modes of wisdom is achieved by matching the right tool with the right job. In other words, we must use the new maps, models, and metaphors of the “wisdom from below” in order to grasp the “wisdom from above.” In turn, the transcendent wisdom of the Torah will cast its light of clarity and direction upon the enchanting and often overpowering tools of science and technology.
Additionally, according to the redemption doctrine of the Talmudic Sage-Mystics (specifically, but not exclusively the Shklov school of the Gaon of Vilna), the Messianic Age cannot be fully ushered in until specific scientific “vessels” are redeemed and returned to their higher-dimensional roots in their corresponding “lights” of Torah. It is a Torah axiom that there is only “one surface” to reality (See below the model of the Möbius strip), any given true discovery or accepted hypothesis in the New Sciences can only be the concave surface to its own convexity in Torah. When the two “sides” are isomorphically aligned with each other, then all factors being equal and at the right time and place, the external scientific model will actually be “absorbed” back into the light of the Supernal Torah, intensifying and fortifying the supernal light now from the “inside-out.”(6)
The doctrine of the Gaon of Vilna and his clandestine cadre of Talmudic Sage-Mystics of Skhlov explain that the opening of the “gates of wisdom above” refers to new and profound revelations that would render the Jewish esoteric tradition, the Kabbalah, more accessible from the mid-19th-century onwards. The same tradition has been handed down by another unexpected, yet highly authoritative source, R. Yisrael Salanter (1810-1883), the Torah master who spearheaded the Mussar Movement (emphasizing character and ethical development). In confirmation of the above statement from the Zohar, he is said to have commented: “Prior to 1840 the study of Kabbalah was a closed book to all but the initiated.” The Kabbalah master, R. Shlomo Eliyashiv, quotes this tradition and adds on, “Thus, from 1840 onwards, permission has been granted for those who truly desire to enter within. The Kabbalah is no longer the private domain of the initiated masters.”(7)
The “gates of wisdom above” parallel the opening of the “wellsprings of wisdom below.” This refers to revolutionary discoveries in the sciences that would completely change our view of the world. (8)As outlined in the previous chapters, it is all too easy to see the fulfillment of this part of the Zohar‘s prophecy. We have also seen ongoing examples of the revelations of “wisdom from above.” We can see it historically, in the release and publishing of crucial Kabbalistic teachings. Although a number of the works of the Arizal were circulated after he died in 1572, the most authoritative texts of Lurianic Kabbalah, the Shemoneh Sh’arim (The Eight Gates) by R. Chayim Vital, remained in closely guarded manuscript until the beginning of the 20th-century. The availability of previously unpublished esoteric manuscripts of the early Kabbalists, the teachings of the Ramchal and the Hasidic masters, (9) and finally the esoteric writings of the Gaon and his disciples (including Kol HaTor) have given our generation increasing access to these crucial teachings.
From a traditional Torah perspective, however, this new degree of availability would appear to be contraindicated. There is an accepted principle of the gradual diminishment of each successive generation (hitkatnut hadorot) in its ability to understand the Torah (ם–Mission: The Adamic Time Body). This principle, however, only holds true with respect to the Torah’s exoteric teachings. Unexpectedly, the inverse of this principle holds true with respect to the Torah’s esoteric truths. Reality and consciousness, as it is traveling through the body of time, is falling further and further away from the “head” of Adam and the “heart” of Sinai. Yet, paradoxically, as our generation descends into the “feet” of time we are approaching ever closer to the Messianic Era and the Hidden Light. Here now, at the paradoxical edge of history, the inner secrets of the ancient kabbalistic revelations become more manifest and available.(10)
This does not mean that our generation is more advanced than our predecessors. To the contrary, our grasp of the “inner” wisdom is decidedly more “external.” It does mean, however, that this wisdom is no longer restricted to a select few. In order to hasten the redemption, the inner wisdom has come down into the public domain, with all the inherent dangers that this “descent” suggests. This is born out, on the one hand, by the emergence of the Kabbalah as an accepted field of academic research in universities in Israel and in the world at large. This is in sharp contrast to the Kabbalah’s previous status of belonging to the “Old World” and the realm of superstition. On the other hand, this prophecy is reflected in the appearance of Orthodox yeshivot (mainly Sephardic), which openly teach Kabbalah side by side with Talmud and Halachah (Jewish Law). Further, any longtime student of the Kabbalah cannot but be staggered by the recent proliferation of classical Kabbalah literature, in Hebrew, English, and other languages, which continues to increase in momentum.
According to the Talmudic Sage-Mystics, after thousands of years of travel, humanity has reached the final shore. Across the great ocean lies a new mode of consciousness and a new territory of reality, Eretz HaChayim — the Land of the [truly] Living. Yet, even now, as we stand upon this seashore of the final vestiges of earthly space and time, there are strange and mind boggling artifacts being washed ashore. Let us now reach into the sand and redeem a few small items that have, embedded within them, the fractal-sparks of divinity — fallen data from the higher-dimensional Tree of Knowledge. In so doing we can prepare ourselves and the world to usher in a Messianic Era of higher dimensional consciousness.
Kabbalah, together with scientific discovery and its technology, is essential in ushering in, and even accelerating, the incoming and final stage of global evolution, traditionally referred to as the Messianic Era. Thus, modern science and technology are one of the very manifestations of the messianic process itself. The doctrine of (combined and intertwined) “Kabbalah and science” securely grabs hold of both extremities of the separate, and often opposing, disciplines of ancient religious truth and evolving scientific knowledge. Accordingly, the true confluence and interpenetration of these systems will only emerge when these two things happen. Paradoxically, the newly discovered models and metaphors provided by the “external wisdom” of science will help illuminate the deepest secrets of the ancient mysteries of the “internal wisdom” of the Kabbalah. Reciprocally, those same ancient mysteries of the Kabbalah’s “internal wisdom” will define, explain, and help reshape our perception of the entire phenomenon of the external physical world.
There is even more to the unique vision of the role that secular wisdom must play in the messianic unfolding. Not only does science and technology play a prophetic and mystical role, alongside the ancient mystical teachings of Judaism but, according to this tradition of the Talmudic Sage-Mystics, this synthesis depends upon the Jewish nation being re-centered in a rebuilt Jerusalem.
This is the universal purpose of fulfilling a messianic destiny. It is serving to guide and prepare all humanity for a major paradigm shift in consciousness. Accordingly, the Torah Sages’ mastery of scientific models and maps is an intrinsic and necessary component of the ancient, prophetic mission. According to the Gaon of Vilna, this role is central to the fulfillment of the Jewish nation to be a global and evolutionary “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6).
1. From his 1962 essay Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination. Arthur C. Clarke’s intention with the usage of the term “magic” is not “stage magic”, but rather theurgic magic, i.e., the manipulation of metaphysical laws to affect the physical realm. When this form of spiritual or “inner technology” is directed by God, yet often orchestrated through man, we know it as a “miracle”. (In occult literature, theurgic magic is often referred to as “magik”, spelled with a “k”).
2. Zohar VaYaira, 117a.
3. “What was forbidden to investigate and expound upon just yesterday becomes permissible today. This is felt by every true exegete. Numerous matters whose awesome nature repelled one from even approaching in previous generations, behold, they are easily grasped today. This is because the gates of human understanding below have been opened up as a result of the steadily increasing flow of Divine revelations above”. R. Shlomo Eliyashiv, Leshem Sh’vo V’Achlamah, Chelek HaBi’urim, p. 21d.
4. This same tradition has been handed down by an unexpected yet highly authoritative source, R. Yisrael Salanter (1810-1883), the leader of the Mussar Movement. In confirmation of the statement of the Zohar, he is said to have commented, “Prior to 1840 the study of Kabbalah was a closed book to all but the initiated.” The Kabbalist, R. Shlomo Eliyashiv, who quotes this tradition, continues, “Thus, from 1840 onwards, permission has been granted for those who truly desire to enter within. The Kabbalah is no longer the private domain of the initiated masters.” Leshem Sh’vo VeAchlamah, Sefer De’ah 1:5:4 (p. 76)
5. For a thorough discussion of traditional, as well as, some contemporary views of Torah and Science, see Challenge – Torah Views on Science and its Problems, Aryeh Carmell and Cyril Domb, editors (Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists and Feldheim Publishers, 1978). It should be noted that in the first volume of this otherwise comprehensive work only one short paragraph is quoted from Kol HaTor, and then almost in passing.
It is only in the second companion volume that a short summary of Kol HaTor’s position on science is presented. Encounter – Essays on Torah and Modern Life, H. Chaim Schimmel and Aryeh Carmell, editors (Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists/Feldheim Publishers, 1989, no longer in print). The essay is entitled “Tora im Derech Eretz: A Fresh Approach” by Rabbi A. H. Rabinowitz. This source is quoted here in full to corroborate the assertion that what Kol HaTor’s Sha’ar Be’er Sheva is advocating in the name of the Gaon, regarding the necessary messianic role of science, is virtually unparalleled and unprecedented throughout the entire spectrum of rabbinic and kabbalistic literature:
In a little-known volume compiled by a disciple of the Gaon of Vilna, Kol HaTor, this subject [of the relationship between Torah and secular study] is treated in depth. The views of the Gaon, as presented by his disciples in that volume, shed a fresh perspective on Tora im Derech Eretz, one for which even the opinions of Rav Shor and Rav Kook [previously discussed in the essay and both representing among the most extreme views on the subject] have only slightly prepared us. As far as I am aware, there is not even an inkling of it in Rabbi S. R. Hirsch’s original approach. R. Hillel ben R. Binyamin of Shklov, expounds there the Gaon’s view on the messianic process until the final redemption of Israel. Part II of the fifth chapter, called Sha’ar Be’er Sheva, is devoted to a detailed presentation of the Gaon’s attitude towards the seven wisdoms, their study, and their part in the messianic scheme.
Still, the editors of R. Rabinowitz’s posthumously published essay were compelled to add the bracketed note, “It must be noted however that this work [Kol HaTor] is not universally accepted as an authentic presentation of the views of the Gaon of Vilna.”
6. The underlying axiom behind the relationship between the scientific vessels and the lights of Torah is replicating (i.e., fractal iteration) exactly that of the eternal dynamic between the hasadim and gevurot – the divine masculine and feminine forces within the Ohr Ain Sof (Five Steps: HuG). For more amplification of the intrinsic divine roots of the Seven Natural Sciences that emanate out of the Torah (which in turn emanates out of the Supernal Torah, the “Mind of God”), see my Secret Doctrine of the Gaon of Vilna, Volume II, Chapter 3, especially Fractal 4 (p. 127). There the Gaon is quoted as saying, “The distillations [i.e., iterations] of Torah are the natural sciences of the lower world”.
7. Leshem Sh’vo V’Achlamah, Sefer De’ah 1:5:4 (p. 76).
8. The principle of a parallelism between the historical development of science and Kabbalah is also advanced by the contemporary Torah master, R. Dr. Chaim Zimmerman, z”l: “According to the Sages, Knowledge (whether it is Torah knowledge or secular knowledge) comes from Heaven. This means that the sum total of all knowledge that flows into the world during any one period or generation is determined by hashgachah [Divine Providence] in direct correlation to the merit of the generation and of those individuals who discover it. According to this principle [of parallelism], we can verify that in a period when knowledge is revealed in the non-Torah world, the same quality of knowledge is revealed in the Torah world. When the non-Torah world had a Newton and a Leibnitz, the Torah world had the Gaon of Vilna and the Sha’agat Aryeh. In a generation of Einstein and Planck, the Torah world had a R. Chaim Soloveitchik and R. Abraham of Sochotchov…. In short, the more science progressively reveals the secrets of our physical world, the more the secrets of the Kabbalah become indispensable in understanding the real meaning of the Torah. The hashgachah has determined that these two categories of knowledge develop and progress in parallel lines.” (R. Dr. Chaim Zimmerman, Torah and Reason, Hed Press, Jerusalem 1979, pp. 287, 291).
9. The Hasidic movement also takes note of this passage from the Zohar and agrees that it is heralding new revelations in Jewish mysticism, albeit with a different venue. It is well known in the Chabad tradition that the mystic revelations of the “wisdom from above” refer to the emergence of the Hasidic movement and to the publication of classic Hasidic (Chabad) literature, which occurred at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries; see Rabbi M. M. Shneerson, On the Essence of Chassidus, Kehot Pub., 1974, p. 91.
A direct tradition from the Ba’al Shem Tov himself is quoted by R. Aaron Marcus (1843-1916), a German Torah scholar who wrote on Kabbalah and Hasidut. He became a strong adherent of Hasidic teachings and maintained close relations with many Hasidic leaders in Poland and Galicia, in particular with R. Shlomo Rabinowitz of Radamsk. In his Keset HaSofer he writes what is almost a commentary on the Gaon’s view of the revelations of science during the period preceding the Final Redemption: We now know with certainty that the prophecy of the Zohar in Parashat VaYeira has been fulfilled in our generation. Thus, throughout the first 6 centuries of the sixth millennium (5000-5600 = 1240-1840), the spiritual quality of Malchut-Kingdom, which is also known as the “Lower Wisdom,” would ascend slowly. Then in the six hundredth year of the sixth millennium (5600 = 1840), “the gates of wisdom above and the wellsprings of wisdom below” began to open. This is also the prophecy of our master R. Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov concerning the kavanot (meditations) while reciting Psalm 107 [during the Minchah prayer immediately preceding the onset of the Sabbath]. He interpreted the verse homiletically, “In His hand are (mech’karei aretz) the deep secrets of the earth and the heights of the mountains are His” (Psalm 95:4). Instead of reading mech’karei aretz, “deep secrets of the earth,” read me’chakrei aretz, “investigators of the earth.” The “Hand of God” represents here the aspect of Malchut-Kingdom, the last [and most manifest spiritual] level that is now operative. It is in this Hand of God that all the progress and success of the gentile investigators lies; Keset HaSofer, Bereshit 2, p. 8.
10. R. Shlomo Eliyashiv states: “What was forbidden to investigate and expound upon just yesterday becomes permissible today. Every true exegete is aware of this. Numerous matters whose awesome nature repelled one from even approaching in previous generations, behold, they are easily grasped today. This is because the gates of human understanding below have been opened up as a result of the steadily increasing flow of Divine revelations above;” (Leshem Sh’vo V’Achlamah, Chelek HaBi’urim, p. 21d)