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A Tale of Two Seders

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

Publishing an online magazine and event calendar isn't a glamourous job. There is a lot of work that requires far less than my full mental concentration. Given that, and my intellectual curiosity, I listen to a lot of lectures on Youtube.

Recently I was on a physics binge. The great physicist Richard Feynman said, "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics," but still, especially given enough repetitions of the subject, little bits here and there do sink in.

I came across two ways of thinking about space and time. One, perhaps the usual, is to think of space as a neutral matrix or theater in which things happen: billiard balls collide, stars are born... And to think of time similarly, as the fixed, absolute background of existence. The other way of thinking of space and time is that both are affected by and formed from the things taking place in the universe on both the large and the small (quantum) levels.

This second way of thinking is against the view that the laws of the cosmos are somehow beyond the cosmos itself. Everything becomes participatory. There is no beyond the cosmos. Time and space and our consciousness are all woven into the cosmic fabric. There is no standing apart.

This strikes me as being in line with the kabbalistic dictum that time and space are themselves creations, that they are part of creation and not laws imposed from outside.


Jewish holidays can be summed up as "They tried to kill us. We won. Let's eat." The holiday of Passover just passed about a month ago. The central ritual of the holiday, observed by the religious outside of Israel on 2 nights is the ceremonial dinner, the Seder. (The Last Supper was a Passover Seder. We Jews have a lunar calendar. That Passover is always observed on the first full moon following the vernal equinox, accounts for the fact Easter is "moveable," always occuring on the first Sunday after the first full moon in Spring, varying by 35 days on the solar calendar.)

Jewish religious observation is mythic. Large, archetypal occurences happened historically and we participate in those through our ceremonies. Space and time are sacred, or, at least, opportunities for the sacred. The physicists concur, space and time are not neutral, not fixed or homogeneous. On Passover we are commanded (or, for the more modern sensibility, invited) to participate in liberation, the Exodus from Egypt. At that time, on that holiday there is a special dispensation for freedom, for leaving whatever keeps us enslaved. The Hebrew word for Egypt, "Mitzrayim," means "constraint" or "a tight place."


I made two Seders this year. The first night there were eight of us: Veronica, me and our six guests. We were four Jews with our four non-Jewish partners. I bought Matzah (unleavened bread) and horse-radish. I made charoseth (spiced apple-wine pate), salad, borscht and a Morrocan bean entre. Seder means "order," refering to the order of the storytelling and ritual consumption of food that occurs before the dinner is served. It is very Jewish to ask questions, to reject order, to revolt. Trying impose order on hungry Jews is fraught with peril. I did my best to make it interesting and quick. We ate the ritual appetizers, covered the requisite points of the Salida de Egipto (some acted out by yours truly), did a chorus of the Negro spiritual, "Go Down Moses" and got to dinner without losing anyone.

The highlights of every Jewish holiday and Sabbath are the sanctifications of the wine and bread. The blessings said over these items are curious: "Blessed are you Gd, who creates the fruit of the vine." and "Blessed are You Gd, who brings forth bread from the earth." Now wine is not a grape ("fruit of the vine") and wheat is brought forth from the earth, not bread. This is because the universe is a participatory experience. We are partnered with the Divine, making wine from grapes and bread from wheat. We are not moving through a neutral universe. We are participating in, affecting and changing our reality. Gd wants to see what we are going to do. If you were an omniscient being, wouldn't you want to be surprised?


I was surprised by how different our second Seder was from our first. The second night, just Veronica and me, was much more relaxed. The required four glasses of wine went to my head and, moved by the spirit, I was frequently on my feet preaching, prophesizing and generally acting (things) out. The more science knows, the more it becomes obvious that there must be a Cosmic Designer.* However much this may be Good News, we still chiefly identify with our old self. Now, don't get me wrong, I like the usual selves of the people I invited for the first Passover Seder. Still, on the second night it was good to leave behind the talk of theater and travel, the jests and jokes that took over and to wax ecstatic, celebrating the miraculous improbability of life and of existance itself. And isn't that what holidays are for?

More and more, physicists and physicians agree, from space-time to your immune system, life, your life, is what you make it.

*The odds that life could have started and evolved without Intelligent Design are much worse than 1 in 1070. And, to give you an idea of that number, 1067 (one billion times easier than 1 in 1070) is how many atoms there are in our entire Milky Way Galaxy. I've been listening to a lot of lectures on the subject on Youtube. A very recent and authoritative one is - www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU7Lww-sBPg. Then, there are the insurmontable odds against the 4 cosmological forces being perfectly set, not too strong or too weak, to allow the universe to exist as it does; causing people who believe that it was just chance to posit the existence of 600 billion other universes where nothing but heium exists. Where would you put 600 billion other universes, anyway? Then...


photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)

Dr David has invested years of his life and more money than he cares to reckon into his global Lokkal project, an event calendar and searchable directory/business network for towns and cities around the world, combining aspects of Facebook, Google and Trip Advisor. Think: Digital Town Square. Think: the yellow pages for the new millenium. See more. A madman crying in the wilderness for years, reinforcements are recently arriving, the A team is assembling and preparations to launch in other cities are being made, gracias a dios. Interested?

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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