Dear Rabbi Fried,
I was wondering about your discussion of the parallel universe theory. You said it could possibly fit with Judaism’s idea of God constantly recreating the world and that all those infinite creations of worlds continue to exist as parallel universes.
What would be the purpose of God sustaining an infinite number of universes if they never will meet each other? Or, is there some time in the big scheme of things that they will somehow meet?
— Joseph T.
Allow me to begin with a different, little understood, belief within Judaism. In Maimonides’ listing of the 13 core Jewish beliefs, he ends his list with the belief in the Revival of the Dead, which, we believe, will be a period after the Messianic age. This means, in part, that the righteous who have died over the history of the world will have their bodies reunited with their souls and come back to life to receive the ultimate reward for the good they performed in the world.
This does not mean that people will be revived and continue life wherever they left off. It will be a completely elevated zone of spiritual existence in a world which will also be renewed, with a body which, although it will be built from the old body, will be more spiritual than physical. The main thing we will see in another will not be their physical appearance but their souls, which will shine right through the barely physical body. We will be the same people, albeit with the role of the body and the soul reversed from the way it is in this world.
What will we do there in that state of existence? We will relive everything we did in this world from an elevated perspective. We will see the full meaning and impact of every mitzvah we performed and bask in its light and the light of the connection to the Al-mighty which that mitzvah provided.
The deeper sources of Torah thought explain that not only does this apply to people; it applies to the entire universe. Everything which God created will “come alive” and exist in its fullest potential, shining with the full illumination of the purpose of its creation.
Everyone and everything will receive its full tikkun.
These kabbalistic sources go on to explain that this “revival” includes all the universes created by God throughout history. When God recreates the universe every instant he infuses each instantaneous creation with a different spiritual essence (in their words, different combinations of God’s names are used to recreate the universe, each combination carrying a different spiritual essence).
The perfection of the totality of creation entails the combination and harmonizing of all those myriad, nearly infinite spiritual messages into one great spiritual revelation, one great symphony of Godliness with each level of spirituality providing its unique music. At that time all the parallel universes will be weaved together in one tapestry of existence, the ultimate revelation of the oneness or unity of God. That is when the separation between these universes will cease to exist and they will, together, come alive.
Although parallel universes or existences is only a theory in physics I believe it may have joined many other current theories which mesh with deep Torah thought. Superstring theory, which attempts to resolve the contradictions between general relativity and quantum theory, touches upon this reality as well, as it claims that reality exists not of three dimensions and time, but of nine dimensions and time! (One version, known as M-theory, makes it 10 plus time.)
In the words of the scientist Brian Greene, “as we don’t see these extra dimensions, superstring theory is telling us that we’ve so far glimpsed but a meager slice of reality.” As physics continues to march forward with breathtaking new revelations of our existence, these revelations come closer and closer to the same ideas revealed in our timeless Torah.