The multiverse in Jewish thought

By Rabbi Dovid Markel, Director at Neirot Foundation of Jewish Thought

parallel universe multiverse Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann • Freiburg/Deutschland, Pixabay.

In physics it has been postulated that our universe is part of an infinite multiverse where every potential reality exists in some form.

Out of string theory comes an idea called braneworlds which suggests a membrane cosmology to describe reality where there are more dimensions of the world than we are conscious of.

The theory suggests that there is a multi-level membrane of space, time, and the reality we are aware of that “float in a higher-dimensional space.”

“Columbia University physicist Brian Greene describes the idea as the notion that “our universe is one of potentially numerous ‘slabs’ floating in a higher-dimensional space, much like a slice of bread within a grander cosmic loaf,” in his book “The Hidden Reality” (Vintage Books, 2011).”

Interestingly, it seems that Chabad-Chassidic thought would seem to agree to some parts of the multiverse claim. While it doesn’t agree that there are an infinite amount of *actual* realities, it concedes that every potential energy creates a *spiritual* effect.

A story of the Ba’al Shev Tov,  the Besht (brought in HaYom Yom 29 Tishrei), expresses this idea:

“A resident of Mezibuz had a quarrel with another. Once, while in the Baal Shem Tov’s shul, he shouted that he would tear the other fellow to pieces like a fish. The Baal Shem Tov told his pupils to hold one another’s hand, and to stand near him with their eyes closed. Then he placed his holy hands on the shoulders of the two disciples next to him. Suddenly the disciples began shouting in great terror: They had seen that fellow actually dismembering his disputant. This incident shows clearly that every potential has an effect – either in physical form or on a spiritual plane that can be perceived only with higher and more refined senses.”

Meaning to say, that on some “higher-dimensional space” there is a reality where our potential choices played themselves out. If this exists for *every* choice of a person, and all potentials, than surely there would be an infinite multiverse of abstract “membrane” like realities existing in some higher-dimensional space.

Either way, interesting food for thought about how some radical ideas in physics interplay with radical kabbalistic ideas.

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