The Matrix of Love

I like to think. Sometimes it gets me into trouble as my thoughts often tend to wander beyond the ‘box’ where most people reside. My mind tends to reject boundaries of thought imposed by others who jealously guard their intellectual and philosophical/theological territory. Yet such intellectual and spiritual ‘truth-seeking’ is not only healthy but required in a world that apparently eschews faith and yet is built upon ‘faith’ in so many ways, be it secularism, scientism or atheism. This week threw up yet another example of such ‘faith’. In the Guardian online (link) a report appeared about Elon Musk and his ongoing desire to frame his bright new electric world. The article begins “Musk is just one of the people in Silicon Valley to take a keen interest in the “simulation hypothesis”, which argues that what we experience as reality is actually a giant computer simulation created by a more sophisticated intelligence. If it sounds a lot like The Matrix, that’s because it is.”
Such views have of course a long historical reach, as the article points out, they are not new. That we may be living in a reality within a reality is not however contrary to the Torah and Scriptures. If G-d is our final reality, a benchmark of ‘real’ in the universe, then we must concede that His eternity, outside of our understanding of time and the restrictions that places upon us as mere mortals, is the final prime reality. Our experience of the physical world as over against the deeper reality of the eternal spiritual world, must also take second place to His eternity. Such a view resonates perfectly with the idea that the physical Creation was a necessity predicated on the need for G-d to show us His love (love needing a demonstration to be real and meaningful). As created recipients made in His image we are able to not only recognise and receive His love but are able to reflect it back to Him again. Such a cycle of a beneficent God and love filled worship and service perfectly fits the picture we know within Judaism. Of course, by creating a somewhat artificial dichotomy between spiritual and physical (or as the Scriptures describe it, spirit verses flesh) the danger was always going to be real that the ‘nowness’ of what is seen and experienced would always cause us a problem in serving G-d (and it most certainly did… and sadly does).
Seen thus however, the question of the ‘more sophisticated intelligence’ behind this ‘simulation’ is answered. It’s not so much a comment about so-called intelligent design, it’s much more a focus on the Designer. The article goes on “That we might be in a simulation is (…..) a simpler explanation for our existence than the idea that we are the first generation to rise up from primordial ooze and evolve into molecules, biology and eventually intelligence and self-awareness. The simulation hypothesis also accounts for peculiarities in quantum mechanics, particularly the measurement problem, whereby things only become defined when they are observed. For decades it’s been a problem. Scientists have bent over backwards to eliminate the idea that we need a conscious observer. Maybe the real solution is you do need a conscious entity like a conscious player of a video game.”
I welcome the admittance that so many in the scientific world have had an agenda against G-d, despite the internal logical problems that throws up, which are well documented. In Judaism however there is no teaching about a Conscious Observer, or a sophisticated intelligence, nor merely a Grand Software writer, but a real, living G-d whose care, love and attention to us as His created beings in a Creation framework goes on from day to day, millennia to millennia. Our G-d is One who not only observes but breaks into the physical to demonstrate His love for us, His faithfulness and mercy. The greatest expression of this love was none other than in Mashiach Yeshua, whose life and death rent the physical asunder to reveal the deeper layer of reality: mankind and G-d could once more freely love each other unburdened by guilt and shame.
The wonderful truth that comes out of such thinking is that we do need a conscious entity who is running the ‘Creation app’, and it is difficult to make sense of this existential experience without Him. The revelation is that this One is the G-d of Israel, the only, unique G-d. As we continue through this Sukkot week and consider our fleeting years on this earth, sojourners no less on the planet, we would do well to consider our Maker’s ways and His ongoing desire that all men would know Him, and that no sinner should die.

Find a healthy source

In the Internet age that we currently live in it is vital to be not only wary of anything that we read, anything that comes up as the top link for X or Y or anything that we find in our research, but also fundamentally we need to know the sources of any information offered to us. In the egalitarian Internet of all equal voices the messages can so easily be consumed by the media and leave us feeling lost and bewildered. In the garden of knowledge the fruit of wisdom is not easily picked. It is why the prophet, speaking the words of G-d relating to Himself, said ‘Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters’. It is why Yeshua Mashichaynu at Simchat Torah said ‘if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink’. G-d has always been our first source and inspiration for truth and understanding. In the spectrum of ‘sources’ in our age there is only One Source we need to hear.

Which is why when we move to consider our Judaism it is vital to know what sources we draw from. Judaism as the ‘religion’ given to the Israelites at Sinai, the national covenant of the Jewish people who had descended from Avraham, has as its source G-d Himself. It was given to us, a revelation, and not discovered by mankind. Judaism thus categorised by source should be ‘Judaism from Heaven’, or maybe ‘Heavenly Judaism’. All the more interesting then that as Jews we have applied many other modifiers than this to our Judaism to describe how we have adapted, or denominated this original form of Judaism into each subset. In the last 2000 years we have made use of these many modifiers to build the categories of rabbinic, orthodox, reform, liberal, masorti, modern orthodox, conservative, charedi, chasidic etc etc. Each one tells a story of sources and their impact upon the resultant form of Judaism.

This is highlighted in a recent article (see link below) in the Jewish Chronicle. As the article clearly and rightly explains, Rosh Hashanah has only one specific command attached to it: to hear the shofar blast. It is one command that is relatively easy to fulfil. That the festival nevertheless has been renamed away from Yom Teruah to Rosh Hashanah, and the numerous other commandments detailed in a dedicated tractate in the Mishnah introduced, shows us not that any of these per se are wrong, but rather that this is the expression of a form of Judaism (rabbinic) that has as its source the rabbis and sages of ancient times. Now, as someone who has read and loved these rabbis and their writings, I can accept and acknowledge their deep commitment to Judaism and its continuation. But that is not the issue. The issue here is sources.

In rabbinic Judaism the sources, and authoritative texts include not only Torah but Talmud and the many other later writings. Tradition plays a large role in the generational transfer of faith. None of this is in itself necessarily bad, but the original concept of source in Judaism is G-d Himself, and not man’s traditions, however good and noble they may be. In Messianic Judaism the source is G-d Himself, through Yeshua our Mashiach (Messiah). Our source texts are the accounts of the teachings of the Mashiach in the first century and the letters written by the first generation of hearers and followers of Yeshua. For us Messianic Jews these texts are as authoritative as the Talmud is for rabbinic Jews. And just as the Talmud and the later rabbinic writings play a role in defining rabbinic Judaism today (Orthodoxy), so too the Messianic Writings define our Judaism too. Our prophetic task as Messianic Jews right now is to redefine Judaism around the teachings of Mashiach (rather like many Lubavitch do with the teachings of one of their former leaders, subsequently declared by many to be Messiah). This is nothing other than a radical shift of sources, finding the One original source again that alone can define what Judaism and should be: G-d.