The theory of the Big Bang serves as the scientific creation myth of our culture. What does it have to do with God? How can it help us discover a spiritual dimension in our lives and recover a sense of wonder? In this talk with Scientists in Synagogues and Congregation Har HaShem, Daniel Matt will explore these questions, drawing on the insights of the Kabbalah as well as contemporary cosmology. He suggests several parallels between these two schools of thought, e.g., between what physicists call “broken symmetry” and what Kabbalah calls “the breaking of the vessels,” but his purpose is not to demonstrate that medieval kabbalists knew what scientists now know about the universe. Rather, he will show how we can appreciate each approach in light of the other and deepen our understanding of both.

Daniel Matt is one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalistic texts, especially the Zohar. He taught at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley for twenty years. He has also taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published over a dozen books, including The Essential Kabbalah (translated into seven languages) and God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality.

Recently Professor Matt completed an 18-year project of translating and annotating the Zohar, the masterpiece of Jewish mysticism. This work, consisting of nine volumes was published by Stanford University Press and is entitled The Zohar: Pritzker Edition. This annotated translation has been hailed as “a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought.”

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