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The Revolution 3: Interview with Rabbi Zamir Cohen

When Rabbi Zamir Cohen began working on “Science and Religion” over a decade ago, he never imagined that the popular booklet would expand into his best-selling book The Revolution. When work began on Revolution 1, it didn’t seem likely there would be a sequel, but a few years later, Revolution 2 was published. Revolution books continued to come out, and in recent weeks, the third volume of the series was distributed to bookstores and Hidabroot shops. Revolution 4 is also in preparation, and Rabbi Zamir hopes that this volume will conclude the series, allowing him to free up more time for other important issues.

“I’m really surprised that we made it to ‘Revolution 3',” says Rabbi Zamir. “At first, it seemed that there really wasn’t too much material beyond what was in the Torah and Science booklet. But as time passes, other topics came up, some of which I only later became acquainted with, and some of which came from recently discovered studies.”

One who peruses Revolution 3 will discover that Rabbi Zamir is taking the synthesis of Torah and Science to a surprising new edge. This time he is not afraid to dive into much deeper issues such as quantum mechanics and parallel universes in the Kabbalah, the future flowing into the present, and the contraction of the moon. In addition he also addresses known and intriguing issues such as bee honey and the hare and rabbit’s chewing their cud. And if that's not enough — he also brings proof to the connection between honoring parents and longevity, and the secret of the spry Jewish brain.

In response to my question, the rabbi replies that he worked on the book mainly at night, when he returned from his various lectures around the country, when there are no phone calls or other matters to disturb his work. Some of the chapters arose out of his personal initiative, and others were due to the public’s request.

“The chapter that deals with the rabbit and the hare’s chewing of their cud arose because the public wanted answers when science seems to contradict the Torah,” the rabbi says. “Analysis of the subject shows that it is just the opposite — This subject too is further proof of the truthfulness of the Torah.

“In a nutshell, I would just mention that ‘hare’ (arnavon in Hebrew) is a new name for the animal that was previously called a “rabbit” (shafan in Hebrew), and the arnavon precisely meets the definition of the Biblical shafan as it was called just decades ago. To prove that the arnovon is the Biblical shafan, it was necessary to examine historical sources. It turned out that Spain is so-called after the rabbits which the Phoenicians saw there in large quantities. This is why they called it Safania (=shafan). There are Roman coins discovered from that period, which clearly show the image of a rabbit engraved on them. It's all about how the definition has changed over the years, and this is what created the confusion. This is just an example of a topic that the public was asking about, and the result is the big chapter that appears in the book.”

Another fascinating topic presented in detail in the book is the subject of bee honey, which is kosher even though it is extracted from the body of the non-kosher bee. “At a first glance, it is puzzling. How is it possible that the bee is forbidden to be eaten — but the honey that it secretes is permitted?” says Rabbi. “Science tells us that substances from the bee’s body mixes with the nectar and turns it into honey, so it’s a good question. But it turns out that a bee has two bellies. Honey production takes place in one of them, in a special process that produces pure honey without any substance mixed-in from the bee's body, just like the sages said, so honey does not contain forbidden substances.”

One of the most intriguing chapters, if not the highlight of the book, discusses “parallel universes” in Kabbalistic teachings. Are there really parallel universes?

“I would first point out that for those who are not familiar with the subject, the book contains an introduction designed for those who want to know the basics of classical physics and quantum mechanics, which is the new physics. I think this chapter can make a real revolution in the soul of every person who doubts the reality of G-d. The latest findings in quantum mechanics already appear in the Zohar and Kabbalah.

“In a nutshell, I would say that scientists found out that in small particles of matter, an electron that is in one place can at the same time also be elsewhere. It sounds weird, as if saying that a man who is sitting here on a chair is also sitting on a chair in another room. It’s true that in the overall physical reality you do not see things like that, but in the world of particles it was proven. As a result, a complete scientific theory has developed that claims that there are other universes that are clones of our universe, and that electron is there too.

“Scientifically, what I just said was once considered total science fiction. But the Kabbalah mentions that every action that we do here immediately affects all the parallel universes that exist in other dimensions. According to Kabbalah, the universe is composed of layers like the peels of an onion. In other words, our world has parallel universes at different levels. The book provides charts of the parallel universes according to Kabbalah teachings, and by the way, this also provides an insight into the Big Bang, in which the Zohar again was ahead of science. Quantum mechanics raises further questions, such as the influence of an observer on reality and the paradox of Schrödinger's cat. The words of the holy Zohar provide a solution to the paradox which is still an unsolved scientific mystery.”

Does this scientific discovery have any ramifications for the meaning of our existence here on earth?

“At the beginning of the chapter, I brought the words of Professor Niels Bohr, a Nobel Laureate in Physics, who said that if one studied quantum mechanics and wasn’t shocked — it shows that he did not understand it. It’s true. But when you combine the new disclosures with Kabbalah teachings, then you get a ‘shock’ of tremendous insight. When we understand the true reality of creation, it just invigorates a person and makes him happy.”

The chapter that also deals with the question of “the future flowing into the present” which refers to the double wave effect, sounded until a few years ago like science fiction.

“Indeed. Prof. Yakir Aharonov, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize, discovered that not only current events affect the future, but also future events affect the present. Those words indeed sound like science fiction, but he proved it scientifically. Yet, this matter was known to Judaism . For example, it is written that Esther became queen because G-d prepared the cure for the wound. That is, if Haman wasn’t going to make his decree in the future — Esther would not have become queen. There are many examples in Judaism in which we see that the future affecting the present.”

How do you find these scientific materials?

“When there is a scientific subject that seems related to a statement of our Sages — I just look for reliable sources. For example, the sages say that the moon was at first like the sun — i.e. a fiery star — but it cooled and shrank until it became the moon. They talk about the moon complaining that two kings cannot wear one crown, and G-d told her, 'Go diminish yourself.' Beyond the spiritual meaning of this midrash, there is interesting scientific information: the moon used to be a ball of fire. I went to check what current science has to say about the process of the moon’s formation, and it turned out that scientists claim that the moon was once a large fiery star. We can see that the sages already in their times said things that no one else had thought of. The book has simulated pictures by NASA scientists to illustrate the process of how the planet's moon turned from a fiery star to an extinguished and cold star.”

And finally, how do you explain that precisely this generation wants to know how Torah and science converge, in contrast with previous generations whose faith was more natural and had deeper roots?

“In our age, science has made tremendous breakthroughs and discovered data that generated human pride that we are now in control of nature, know a lot and have discovered new data that no one before us knew. This feeling has spurred many to want to understand the physical world’s connection to the spiritual part of the creation.

“In addition, scientific breakthroughs brought scientists to persecute the Church in response to the church’s persecution of science in the past. The struggle between Christianity and science created an atmosphere in which people believed that religion and science do not mix.

“But there was no clash between Judaism and science — Maimonides and many of the greatest Jewish sages were also proficient in science. They saw all science as condiments and spices meant to serve the queen, which is the Torah, and never viewed it as an enemy of the Torah.

“Today people are convinced that religion and science do not mix, and this attitude has spread and unfortunately penetrated the Jewish people too. We were fortunate to be born in a generation where science has begun to discover the Torah’s truths, and even prove them.”

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