A magnifying glass directed at the fundamental transformation that the Israeli society is going through, shifting personal responsibility, mandated by free-will, to the responsibility of court of law:
Black Hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not escape. There are three different types of black holes: Tiny, stellar or supermassive (Source: NASA NASA: what-is-a-black-hole?). Scientists have found proof that every large galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its centre. The supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy is called Sagittarius A. It has a mass equal to about 4 million suns and would fit inside a very large ball that could hold a few million Earths.
Near Death Experience (NDE) is a testimony, delivered by individuals who have biologically died, however have been resuscitated to normal life. The testimony delivers the experience an individual went through while the medical team struggles to return that individual to life. NDE is well documented for many years. An example of a recent report of NDE, one of many, is by Shaman Oaks (Jan., 2022):
There are several features shared by most testimonies of NDE, like “flying” through a black tunnel, total life-review and others.
A basic condition of human life on planet Earth is our total ignorance of where we have come from, or where do we go after we die (if indeed the soul survives the body). This basic life-condition represents to us a unique experience of a one-way flow of information. We are aware of information we produce while we live, or information we are exposed to. Yet we are blocked from any information beyond our life-span, namely, pre-birth or post-death.
A similar statement of our basic human condition may be traced to the first verse of Genesis:
“In the beginning God created The Heaven and The Earth”.
We know much about The Earth (the universe), yet nothing about The Heaven. Indeed, the Bible does not describe the nature of The Heaven, neither does it explicitly refer to it anywhere else in the Jewish Bible, except for the first verse of Genesis (an exception is a single verse, which may be interpreted as describing a hidden two-way communication between humankind and The Heaven (of Genesis 1:1); Find details in this post:
These four types of experience (or source of knowledge), accessible to us all, testify to the most fundamental of human condition on Planet Earth:
- Total ignorance of where we came from (pre-birth), and where do we go from here (post-death, if at all);
- Deafening silence (lack of explicit communication) on behalf of the “other side”;
- Supportive testimonies of individuals (NDE), explicitly stating that to preserve free-will, while shaping our life-experience, we are not amenable to glimpses of the “other side” (except, occasionally, via NDE, or messages delivered by uniquely gifted mediums, spiritualists);
- Lack of any knowledge of The Heaven (existence of which is explicitly stated in the first verse of Genesis).
There is one commonality shared by them all:
One-way flow of information.
Information of what play out here, on earth, is known and exposed to the “other side” (as revealed by NDE reports); Yet, we do not receive explicit communication from the “other side”, barring the possibility of a dual-way mode of communication!!!
These features of our everyday experience on Planet Earth share a surprising commonality with the most basic property of black holes — absorbing from the physical universe, as we know it, but never leaking back information, in the form of matter, energy or any other conceivable form of information (dark energy?).
This stunning similarity between the physical properties of black holes (the one-way flow of information), and the most fundamental condition experienced by us on Planet Earth (as expounded earlier), this similarity naturally begs the question:
Do black holes form one-way exit avenues, through which our souls are doomed to pass after we die?
The known verse from the first chapter of Genesis appears therein, not surprisingly, six times.
The two central words of the verse, which confer on it its meaning, are Boker (morning in biblical Hebrew) and Erev (evening). However, their order of appearance in the verse is bizarre:
“…and there was evening and there was morning one day” (Genesis 1:5).
This is logically flawed (and same applies to all other five variations of the verse). The correct articulation should be:
“…and there was morning and there was evening one day”.
Perhaps the verse is misconstrued by us? Is there an alternative interpretation that may remove the logical flaw, inherent to current interpretation?
In this post (and the allied podcast), we offer a new interpretation. The latter integrates well with the creation narrative, as unfolding in Genesis 1, and, astoundingly, it also comports well with current scientific knowledge of the Big-Bang and its aftermath.
Ultimately, the new interpretation also explains why the same two words, Erev and Boker, stand for “evening” and “morning”, respectively, in traditional interpretations of the verse.
We base the new interpretation on a basic root analysis of the two words, and support it by numerous other verses in the Jewish Bible, where same roots appear in a context utterly divorced from the traditional meaning as “evening” and “morning”; yet, in context that is consistent with the new interpretation.
Therefore, both Erev and Boker, and their respective roots, are hence forth discussed with no relationship whatsoever to their acceptable meanings as evening and morning, respectively.
We start with Erev.
This word, and other words of same root, appear over 150 times in the Bible. The Hebrew root of Erev corresponds to E.R.B, in English. Most times, the root is associated with “evening”, but not uniquely so. Another common usage relates to mixing, or mixture. Thus, Erev-Rav (literally, “much mixture”) stands for a mixture of tribes, Arov stands for a mixture of animals (one of the Ten Plights of Egypt), and Le-itarev means to mix together.
In other words, Erev, in biblical Hebrew, simply means mixture.
Not surprisingly, the time of day when darkness starts crawling over earth, is also called Erev in Hebrew.
Let us next consider Boker.
Traditionally, the word means morning. We might be astonished to learn that its root is tightly linked to Erev, when the latter is interpreted as mixture. Furthermore, as we shall soon realize, the root of Boker diametrically represents the opposite of Erev, when the latter is interpreted as mixture.
Let us analyze usage of the root of Boker (B.K.R) in various biblical Hebrew words.
The grammatical structure of Boker is the same as Chodesh (month, in Hebrew). The verb associated with Chodesh is Le-Chadesh, meaning to renew. One may understand why month in Hebrew implies renewal, since the Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar (moon-based) month, with some periodical adjustments to keep it in tune with the solar calendar (sun-based calendar).
Similarly, the respective verb, associated with Boker, is Le-Vaker. Among other related meanings, Le-Vaker in biblical Hebrew means to seek out, namely, to make something that is mixed distinct and separate. For example (from Collins Concise Dictionary): “She sought out her friend from among the crowd”.
A typical example for the use of Le-Vaker, sharing same root with Boker, is found in Leviticus. The verse describes donation of an animal to be sacrificed to Jehovah. The verse addresses the donor and relates to his animal donation (Leviticus 27:33):
“He must not seek out (Lo Ye-Vaker) the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.”
In other words, if the donated animal is defective, impaired in some way, the donor must not distinguish the good from the bad, or make substitution, so that the sacrifice includes only good parts of the animal. The latter must be sacrificed in its totality.
Similarly, refer to Leviticus 13:36, or Ezekiel 34:11-12.
We realize that, according to the new interpretation based on root analysis, Erev and Boker are inherently connected, diametrically representing two opposite states. Erev describes a state of mixture; Boker describes a state that is the outcome of sorting out the mixture into its individual constituents, rendering them distinct, “separate from the crowd” (the mixture). In short, Boker describes a new state, where constituents of the mixture stand each on its own, materializing to full fruition as a result of the act of bakarah (seeking out the ingredients of the mixture).
With this new insight, based on root analysis of the two words Erev and Boker, the well-known verse, “and there was evening and there was morning”, acquires a completely new meaning. It may more precisely be re-articulated as follows:
”There was mixture (Erev), and then there was non-mixture (Boker)”, a new state where the mixture is dissolved, sorted out into its individual constituents.
We again note that the traditional interpretation, “And there was evening and there was morning one day” (and other versions of same verse) are logically flawed. The morning appears before the evening (to define a day), not the other way around. With the new interpretation, this logical flaw disappears since time is appropriately preserved.
Is the new interpretation consistent with the general description of creation, as unfolding in Genesis creation narrative?
Indeed, very much so.
In Genesis creation narrative, as unfolding in the first chapter of Genesis, the word “create” (Bara), appears not six times, as might be expected, but only twice. It first appears in Genesis 1:1 as an overall statement of all that have been created:
“In the beginning Elohim created the Heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1).
The second time creation is mentioned in Genesis creation narrative relates to the human species (Genesis 1:27):
“So Elohim created Mankind, in His own image, in the image of Elohim created He him, male and female He created them”.
One may wonder:
If creation had happened “In the Beginning” (Genesis 1:1), and then on the sixth day (Genesis 1:27), what has the Divine being engaged in the rest of the six days, where creation is not at all mentioned?
The surprising answer is embedded in the two words, Erev and Boker, based on their new interpretation, based on their root analysis.
In the other days, when no creation is specified, Genesis creation narrative describes, individually for each day, how Elohim, by Divine utterance, has turned Erev (a state of mixture) into Boker (a state of non-mixture, individual parts sorted out from the mixture).
In other words, in most of the creation narrative of Genesis 1, the Divine separates the mixture, created “in the beginning”, into its distinct individual elements, materializing them from the uniform mixture, into which they were initially embedded.
How does this interpretation comport with modern science?
Indeed, surprisingly well.
The two words, Erev and Boker, as newly interpreted, are extremely consistent with how the Big-Bang and its aftermath, in the first few seconds of existence, are currently described by science.
A central element in this description is the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR). This radiation is a relic of the Big-Bang and its immediate aftermath. The uniformity of the radiation across the universe testifies that in the “Beginning” the universe was extremely uniform.
This uniformity is echoed in the Bible, describing the just created physical world (“The Earth”; Genesis 1:2):
“And The Earth was without form and void (Tohu Va-Vohu)..”.
Using root analysis of the two Hebrew words, Tohu and Vohu, let us make sense of this verse and find out what it really conveys.
Science describes the first few seconds after the Big-Bang as extremely uniform. Nothing is yet distinct, there is no information to observe. This scientific description is reflected in Tohu and Bohu. The Bible describes the just created world as being in a state that whatever an observer at the time would observe, he or she will be bewildered (Li-Tehot, to wonder; Hebrew verb linked to Tohu). Also, the imaginary observer would look around purposelessly (Li-vehot; Hebrew verb linked to Bohu). Both descriptions allude to an observer, bewildered and looking around purposelessly. Why? because there is no information, nothing to observe that might help making sense of the observed (just as in a desert).
We have come to the end of our exploration journey regarding creation of The Earth, as alluded to in Genesis 1. We realized that in most days of creation, the Divine sorted out, by uttering a Divine command, that which was created “In the beginning”.
We address the second creation, that of humankind (on the sixth day of creation; Genesis 1:27).
Humankind was not created when God created “The Heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1), or the word “created” would not be repeated describing creation of Mankind (Genesis 1:27).
Since creation first alludes to “The Heavens and the Earth”, and only later to Humankind, we, human beings, are doomed to repeat, in our own life, the same process, as described regarding The Earth in the first five days of Genesis creation (and some also on the sixth day) .
According to the creation narrative, the physical world (The Earth) has moved, from one day to the next, from a vague mixture (Erev, Tohu Va-Vohu) into its visible distinct constituents (Boker), turning the potential into observable reality.
We, human beings, who were separately created, are doomed to repeat the same process as The Earth.
Exercising free will, we are doomed to sort out the hidden faceless mixture, residing within us from infancy, into observable, distinct and separate personality and character.
Once we do that, transforming the potential, lurking within us in a mixture form, into the “I”, or “Me”, which we have grown up to become;
Once we do that, then, and only then, may we offer our own creation, our own non-mixed unique self, to the world, to be of benefit to the rest of humanity, and to all other creatures living on the surface of Planet Earth.
The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming entry in Wikipedia (the Free Encyclopedia):
“In 1994, Haim Shore sued Motorola, in an American court, for failing to publish the much publicized “Six Sigma Encyclopedia of Statistical Tools”, to which he volunteered eight modules that were reviewed by Motorola University (Six-Sigma Research Institute) and accepted for publication. Modules contributed by about two hundred other authors, mostly contributing each a single module or two, were also not published. Though Shore lost the case (Shore vs. Motorola), the verdict triggered an intensive debate within academia that resulted in several publications, where the term “Rough Justice” reigned supreme.”
Relating to this case, Stewart Macaulay, law Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin Law School (spouse of the late attorney Jacqueline Macaulay (1932-2000), who had led the litigation against Motorola), writes (footnote 5, p. 54):
“The price of the position I take in this article is that I have to accept that sometimes judges will use their discretion to reach results that I think are outrageous. Shore vs. Motorola was for me an unhappy example”.
 Linzer, Peter (2001). Rough Justice: A Theory of Restitution and Reliance, Contracts and Torts. Section IV: Haim Shore’s Case Against Motorola. With Commentary by Caroline N. Brown. Wisconsin Law Review (Published by the University of Wisconsin Law School), 3:695-794.
 Macaulay, Stewart (2003). The real and the paper deal: Empirical pictures of relationships, complexity and the urge for transparent simple rules (pp. 51-102). An article in (book): Implicit Dimensions of Contract: Discrete, Relational, and Network Contracts. International Studies in the Theory of Private Law. Editors: David Campbell, Hugh Collins, John Wightman. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 1847312179, 9781847312174.
Comment: First item in references list is accesible below:
A new post on The Blogs of The Times of Israel:
The new site, at haimshore.blog (same domain address as the outgoing site), is based on a new up-to-date WordPress theme, rich with new editorial opportunities and features.
The new site contains all posts, pages, videos and podcasts of the former blog (“Professor Haim Shore Blog”). The latter had been off the net at end of August, 2020.
I have recently become aware that an inaccurate list of my publications is circulating (available) on the Internet.
Therefore, I have prepared an authorized list, with links (via DOI numbers, when available) to the journals, where the items on the list have been originally published.
The list will be periodically updated.
(item 2 on the list is available, as PDF, here: Haim Shore_Predictive Methods for Surgery Duration_Downloaded from Wikipeia_April 19 2022)
The question of whether we are endowed with free-will is as old as human civilization. In this post, we offer a new perspective to this question — addressing it via a series of consecutive questions, located at decision-points of a flowchart.
Each answer directs us to a different path on the flowchart. Some answers land us at a dead-end. This requires regressing back to the recent decision-point, re-thinking our earlier decision (answers that landed us at a final-point on a path in the flowchart). Once we reach a final decision-point, which answers accurately the question (do we have free-will?), we are assured that the answer is well-founded, adopted only after all other options have been carefully explored, examined and rejected (or not, dependent on circumstance).
The flowchart includes Ovals (marking beginning or end of a path in the flowchart), Diamonds (decision-points) and Rectangles (steps in the flowchart). Other symbols commonly used in drawing process flowcharts are not needed. For each decision-point (diamond) — a question is asked. Each rectangular — provides an answer, addressed in detail below.
The questions forming the decision-points in the flowchart indeed form three filters, that only after we have “succeeded” passing them, can we be assured of the validity of our final conclusion, confidently asserting whether we entertain free will or otherwise.
The flowchart is now displayed, followed by comments relating to each of the decision-points (represented in the flowchart by ovals).
Enjoy the journey!
As we may now realize, the general structure of the flowchart comprises three fundamental questions/filters. They are:
We now address each filter, what it means and what are its implications, regarding the basic question:
Do we exercise free will?
A scientific theory, or scientific claim, requires that a criterion be provided how this claim can be rejected, falsified. For example, an acceptable criterion is that if a scientific theory predicts a certain outcome (obtained from experiment, or from sheer observation of nature, where “experiments” are hard to manipulate, as in cosmology), and if this predicted outcome fails to realize — that alone may collapse a scientific theory, invalidate it.
Is the claim “Humankind has free will” scientific? Since this claim relates not to humankind as a collective, this question reduces to the following:
Can we predict human response to any given Free-Will situation?
The answer is a resounding — No.
Human conduct can be predicted, to a certain degree, only regarding the collective, not individuals. Furthermore, given that randomness is part of nature, observed all around us, we never know whether the unpredictability of human response to given free-will situations is the result of nature randomness, observed everywhere in nature, or due to existence of individual free-will.
In short: The claim that human beings have free-will is not scientific, not falsifiable. We need to regress back to the decision-point and select a different path on the flowchart, which lands us at the next filter;
This question relates to a single issue (for members of the monotheistic faiths):
Do you believe in God?
If positive, do you believe in the Divine source of the Bible, and consequently, in the truth of the Bible?
If the answer is again yes, then we have to decide that human beings do have free-will, as individuals, because this is a theme asserted endlessly in the Bible (refer to two quotes, from Torah and the prophets, in a most recent post, here). This ends our journey — Yes, there is free-will because that is what the Bible preaches, in all forms and shapes, and we believe in the Divine source of the Bible.
If we are non-believers, or agnostic — we need again to regress to the most recent decision-point, choose another path that leads us to the last filter;
Many free-will situations are not really what they look like. Often, these are just optimization situations, ego-centered decision scenarios, where the ego attempts to optimize the outcome of its decision. For example, what would I gain and lose from pursuing this path and not another? We then choose the optimal path for which the net gain is maximal. This scenario is typical to most decision scenarios we encounter in everyday life. Therefore, one cannot say that the situations, where the ego optimizes its response, are indeed free-will situations. They are merely optimization scenarios, the simplest of which can be answered by a computer (refer to an earlier post, discussing these points more extensively, here).
What then characterizes free-will situations?
These are decision-points in life, where we can act, on ethical grounds, against our ego and our best interest, to achieve ethical goals that do not necessarily benefit us. Examples:
- Risking one’s life in battle to rescue fellow soldier;
- Persisting in resuscitating a patient, undergoing heart failure, even though an acceptable standard for exercising such effort has long-ago been surpassed;
- Sharing food with fellow human beings in conditions of extreme food scarcity;
- Ego-free donation.
All these scenarios, few drops in an ocean of possible scenarios that one may conceive of, demonstrate exercising ego-free free-will decisions, based on ethical principles, even when these may go against self-interest and self-preservation. An old Jewish idiom comes to mind (in the original language of Chazal, tractate Avot 4:1):
“Who is a hero? — Him, who overcomes his desire”.
(Tractate Avot, or Pirkei Avot, “Ethics of the Fathers”, is a tractate of the Mishna, part of Talmud, which details Torah’s views on ethics and interpersonal relationships; A modern day PC translation would probably read: “Who is a hero? — Him/her, who overcomes her/his desire”.)
This end-point in our journey teaches us a powerful lesson:
We are not born natural free-will individuals.
We have to work on it, nourish it, grow it throughout our lives, in order to free ourselves of the suffocating grip of the ego, to subdue it to ethical moral principles.
Only then — may we exercise ethical principles and ethical judgement in our conduct, in our negotiations with fellow human beings, capable of converting optimization decisions (ego-centered decisions) into free-will decisions.
Then, and only then, do we become liberated free individuals, capable of exercising free-will out of free-will-decision.
This verse appears thrice in the Bible (additionally in Exod. 34:26; Deut. 14:21). It serves cornerstone for a large portion of Jewish dietary Kosher laws (regarding cooking and eating), forbidding mixing together meat with dairy products.
What is the logic behind this seemingly non-sensical fundamental tenet of Jewish way-of-life, setting the latter apart from all other peoples of the world (including followers of Islam, which comes closest to the Jewish Kashrut rules)?
The succinct answer is this:
Judaism is extremely strict about total separation of Life from Death.
And whenever an eventuality may occur, that the two may even remotely overlap or intermingle — a tall separating wall is constructed in Jewish law to ensure that this never happens. In that sense, Jewish Kashrut laws are just one instance in a sea of like-wise laws, ensuring that a Jew, strictly pursuing Moses Law (as specified succinctly in the written Torah and explicated in Oral Torah, later expounded in the Talmud), will never be exposed to scenarios, where Life and Death accidentally intermingle.
The origin for this total and strict separation is probably best articulated in the Divine commandment:
“I call this day to witness against you the heaven and the earth — I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore, choose life that both you and your seed may live” (Deut. 30:19).
And the choice of Life over Death requires strict separation between the two, as reflected in numerous Jewish laws (we will elaborate on some soon).
Why eating meat with dairy products, with no time separation between the two, implies intermingling of life and death?
The answer is straightforward:
- Eating meat is the result of killing an animal; This means Death;
- Dairy products are derived from milk, originally created to assist life, namely, the growth of the just born; This means… well, Life.
Therfore, meat and dairy, associated with death and life, respectively, cannot be mixed and concurrently consumed.
Finally, we note that killing animals, in order to eat meat, had been permitted by the Divine only after realizing that “the impulse of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). Following Noah’s own initiative to sacrifice some of the animals that kept him company just now, for the last hundred and fifty flood-days (Gen. 8:20), God concludes that “the impulse of man’s heart is evil”; Consequently, a permit is now granted: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; As green herb have I given you all” (Gen. 9:3).
Where else do we see the same underlying principle of Jewish life, total separation of Life from Death, so that one may more easily be led to “choose life that both you and your seed may live “?
Here are some examples:
- “But flesh with its life, which is its blood, you shall not eat” (Gen. 9:4); This requires, by Kashrut laws, washing away all traces of blood from the meat prior to cooking; An egg with stains of blood inside likewise is not edible;
- A Jewish cemetery is surrounded all around by a tall wall, strictly and explicitly separating the living from the dead; and when a Jew leaves the cemetery, he washes his hands, demonstrating symbolically and stating in no unclear terms that spiritually no “traces” of the dead remain on his body when he departs the cemetery;
- There is a set time for a mourning period (“Shivah”); This ensures that subsequently the deceased would not psychologically and spiritually intervene with the living;
- Judaism strictly forbids contacts with the dead via spiritualistic conferences; The living are not supposed to talk to the dead: “A man or a woman that is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death; they shall be stoned with stone, their blood-guiltiness is upon them” (Leviticus 20:27);
- A woman at the end of her menstrual cycle is forbidden sexual contact with her spouse; The former (menstrual period) marks life-potential not realized, the departure process of a potential life-generating egg, not consumed, now dead; The latter (sexual contact) is associated with live sperm, marking potential for generating life; The two are strictly forbidden from unholy mixture via time-concurrency: “Also thou shalt not approach to a woman in the impurity of her menstrual flow to uncover her nakedness” (Leviticus 18:19).
All these examples, regarding Jewish living in accord with Moses law, point to a deeper principle, prevalent throughout the Jewish faith:
Everything that one thinks and speaks (orally or by other means), everything that one does, our behavior in its totality – these are all spiritually meaningful. They have a spiritual effect on our soul, and they ultimately return like a boomerang to affect our lives (favorably or otherwise). In Hebrew, the arbitrary, seemingly meaningless, “Thing”, is Davar, deriving from same root as “speak” (Daber). All that we encounter in life “speak” to us— no “Thing” is insignificant.
Jewish laws, at first looking arbitrary, devoid of any rational justification, like “Thou shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk”, now acquire new very deep meaning:
We realize that violation of these laws, implying intermingling of Life and Death in our own every-day life, may affect our spiritual well-being; Ultimately, this will also be affecting our well-being physically.
From the Preface to the book:
“This compendium of essays is divided into three parts:
- Part I: On God, Bible and biblical Hebrew
- Part II: Personal Lessons on Life;
- Part III: Personal Lessons on Statistics.
I hope that reading the book the reader may benefit from these words of wisdom and experience, wisdom of mainstream Bible scholars, past and present, and my own cumulative life experience.”
Amazon link to the book (soft-cover) :