The Holographic Jews

The entire Jewish people are a single, perfect whole. 

This lofty and poetic vision of unity as articulated in the Zohar has a modern-day defender in late author Michael Talbots book, The Holographic Universe (1991).  Within its pages Talbot focuses on the parallels of quantum mechanics and ancient mysticism as he compares the universe to a holographic image; an image that when 'dissected' does not give us 'parts of the whole' but rather 'the whole in each part.' A holographic image cannot be halved or quartered or dissected in any way. Each time you divide it, it merely gives you smaller versions of the original image! 

This concrete example of something that cannot be torn apart mirrors the principal of 'guf Israel' (The Body of Israel). Rabbi Tzvi Freeman expresses it as follows: "As a nation the Jewish people are a soul: "a single soul radiating into many bodies, each ray shining forth on its unique mission, each body receiving the light according to its capacity, each embodiment playing its crucial role. Together we compose a symphony with no redundant parts, no instrument more vital than another.”

Years ago I heard a parable about a man sitting in a boat with others; he pulls out a drill and begins boring a hole at his feet! His boat mates call out to him in horror but he quickly assures them: "Don't worry! I am only drilling under my own seat!"  The famous commandment to “Love your fellow as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18) teaches us this ultimate truth: that in fact our fellow is our self and we are therefore also our fellow! Connected and interconnected. The whole within every part! And even if we drill beneath our own feet the entire boat will sink regardless!

So, what of those who think and feel and see the world in ways which are unfathomable to us? Are we able to be united without consensus? Must we say that ‘everyone’ is right? For if everyone is right than NO ONE is right! 

 We can (indeed must) maintain the ability to clearly state our position and defend our love of Torah and God.  Just as Hillel and Shammai disagreed but maintained respectful discourse, so to we as a nation (indeed as a ‘single soul’) must find a way to acknowledge our interconnectivity while maintaining our distinctness of ideology!  

Many answers lay in our national history as well! As a people we were divided into tribes, each in accordance to their strengths and their ways! When God split the Red Sea for us the midrash teaches us that it was split into 12 lanes for accommodate each of the tribes. There is even a teaching that the sea split into 600,000 lanes to accommodate the ‘way’ of each of us! At the Pesach Seder we reference the 4 sons. There is an assertion that while these differing 'ways' exist in every family there is also the notion that those four sons exist within each of us! And still we are at the table together.

We also learn in Mishle (Proverbs) that in rearing a child we must “train a child according to his way; even when he grows old her will not turn away from it”!  We acknowledge that each of us has ‘our way.’ And while we don't have to agree or relate with that 'way' we may not withdraw the fundamental respect and dignity afforded to each and every Jew because he or she was created in the image of God!  There is a spark of holiness within each of us simply by existing!

Maimonides’ study of Mishlei yielded a profound directive written in his Mishneh Torah “The whole of Torah was given to make peace in the world as it is written: “Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its pathways are peace.”

When we received The Torah at Sinai we were ‘as one man with one heart’.  The  word Yisrael forms the initial letters of the words meaning, "There are 600,000 letters in the Torah." Another name of the Jewish people, Yeshurun, forms the initials of "There are 600,000 [Jewish] souls." This teaches us that each Jewish soul is represented by a letter in the Torah. Each one of us is part of that spiritual symphony! 

Our ancient Jewish sources illustrate all the parts in one unified whole… just like a holographic image. And if the Jewish people also cannot be dissected, meaning each of us is a smaller version of whole, then how can we best direct our focus on what unites us rather than what divides us?