Alexander I. Poltorak

Collapse of the Wave Function

Collapse of the Wave Function

Meditations on the Maaseh Merkavah – III

This is the third installment in the series of posts related to the Ezekiel’s prophesy, Maaseh Merkava, “The Making of the Chariot.” For background information, the reader is referred to my previous posts, “Space – Between Future and Past” and “ Relational Space.”

As I wrote in the first post, “Space – Between Future and Past,” Sefirot line up against four letters of Tetragrammaton, YHWH, as follows:

Yud י Chokhmah, Abba
Heh  ה Binah, Imma
Waw  ו Six Lower Sephirot (Z”A)
Heh  ה Malchut


The first two letters of the proper name of God, YHWH – Havayah, or Tetragrammaton – are י “Yud” and ה “Heh.” During the reading of the Ezekiel’s prophesy Maaseh Merkava on Shavuot, I suddenly realized that These two letters represent the collapse of the wave function.

Kabbalah teaches that the first letter Heh of the Tetragrammaton corresponds to the sefirah of Binah (understanding). It is also identified with Partzuf Imma (“Mother”), as one of the oldest books of Kabbalah, Sefer Bahir, states: “For you shall call Understanding a Mother.” I submit to you that the first letter Heh symbolized the quantum-mechanical wave function (wavefunction).

The wave function described all possible outcomes, all possible states of the system. It is “pregnant” with possibilities. Only one of these possibilities will be borne out by measurement. The “birth” of the single state is called the collapse of the wave function. Partzuf Imma (Mother) is also “pregnant” and gives birth to lower sefirot, toldot, “progeny.” The wave function gives us probabilities of finding each state upon measurement. Binah (Understanding), the dominant sefirah of Imma, is also deliberate and calculating. Binah is deductive understanding evolving methodically from one proposition to the next according to the rules of logic. The wave function is also deterministic evolving from one moment to the next, according to the Schrödinger equation.

The wave function is… well, a wave. Waves form concentric circles:







Let us isolate a quarter of the picture above and look at it carefully:






Do you recognize this shape? If not, compare it the letter Heh in cursive:


Now you see it? Letter Heh depicts the wave.

Chokhmah is wisdom. It is represented in the Tetragrammaton by the letter “Yud.” I submit to you that Yud symbolizes the collapse of the wave function. Indeed, Chokhmah is a clear and unambiguous insight. The collapse of the wave function also removes ambiguity embedded in the wave function and reveals a clear state of the system. Chokhmah is an instantaneous flash of insight. The collapse of the wave function is also instantaneous. The insight comes from nowhere, from nothingness (as the only sefirah above Chokhmah is Ketter, which symbolizes nothingness).

And Chokhmah emerges from nothingness” (Job 28:12)

(See also Zohar II, 121a and III, 290a.) So too, the collapse of the wave function comes from nowhere, ad hock, as it does not follow from the Schrödinger equation. The Psalmists said,

You have made them all with Chokhmah.” (Psalms 104:24)

The collapse of the wave function also creates tangible reality out of the fuzzy distribution of probabilities. The first verse of the Torah,

In the beginning [God] created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)

is translated in Targum Yonatan as “With Chokhmah [God] created… .” Therefore, both Chokhmah and the collapse of the wave function symbolize the creative process.

Chokhmah is the dominant sefirah of the Partzuf Abba (“Father”). Indeed, the Yud of Tetragrammaton is identified with Abba. The books of Kabbalah and Chasidut state that a drop of semen that comes from the father is identified with Chokhmah (see, for example, Tanya, ch.2). This seminal drop condenses all genetic potentiality into a single drop, a quintessential point.

In the Zohar, Chokhmah is viewed as the primordial point. In the four-letter name of God, Tetragrammaton, Chokhmah is identified with the first letter י “Yud.” Essentially, Yud is a dot, a point with no dimensions. This is a graphic representation of the collapse of the wave function, which collapsed the cloud of probabilities into one point in Hilbert space.

There we have it: the first two letters of the Havayah י “Yud” and ה “Heh” symbolize the collapse (י) of the wavefunction (ה).

I received this insight (Chokhmah) and understanding (Binah) while contemplating the meaning of the four faces of the chayot, the angelic beings in the vision of Ezekiel.


About the Author
Dr. Alexander Poltorak is Chairman and CEO of General Patent Corporation. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Physics at The City College of New York. In the past, he served as Assistant Professor of Physics at Touro College, Assistant Professor of Biomathematics at Cornell University Medical College, and Adjunct Professor of Law at the Globe Institute for Technology. He holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics.