Sensing Spirituality

Scientists do not use the term “spirituality” not only because it is not clearly defined, but because one cannot detect it, measure it, prove or disprove its existence with any laboratory equipment.

The number one argument against anything spiritual is that it has never been detected in any laboratory experiment. Needless to say, this argument is silly. To detect something in a laboratory, we need equipment that is appropriate for what we are seeking to detect. One does not detect sound with a microscope or light with a microphone. Even using generally appropriate instruments, such as a microphone for sound detection, the equipment must be fine-tuned to the particular type of sound. One cannot detect ultrasound (>20kHz) with a microphone that can only pick up audible sounds (20Hz-20kHz). To detect some phenomena, one needs equipment that is sensitive to such phenomena. For instance, to detect an electromagnetic field, we’d need a charged particle, such as an electron, that reacts to the presence of the field (or, in physics jargon, couples with the field).  Trying to test an electromagnetic field with a neutral particle, say a neutron, is an exercise in futility, as a neutral particle does not couple (i.e., does not interact) with an electromagnetic field.

It is no wonder then that spiritual phenomena have never been detected experimentally in a lab. Spiritual is by definition something that is not physical. Consequently, no physical laboratory equipment can detect spiritual—it is “neutral” to it. Physical does not couple with spiritual just as a neutron does not couple with an electromagnetic field, or an electron does not couple with a strong nuclear field. But what couples (interacts) with spirituality?  Only spirituality, of course! In other words, only a spiritual entity, whatever it may be, can sense another spiritual entity or phenomena.

Fortunately, we just have such spiritual detector within us—our soul.  As the expression goes, it takes one to know one. It takes a soul to see another soul. It also takes a Godly soul to “see” or rather sense Godliness.

This Torah portion is called Vaera (appeared) from the second verse in this portion:

I appeared (vayeira) to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob… (Ex. 6:3)

The word “vaera” comes from the word “re’a”—vision.  This verse tells us that our patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob “saw” God. This obviously does not mean they saw God with their physical eyes—God has no physical form whatsoever to see. Rather, they sensed God’s presence with their spiritual sensors—their Godly souls.

In his dialog with Moses, God explains to him that just as the Patriarchs had a Godly soul, which allowed to them to sense God (conversely, it allowed God to reveal Himself to the Patriarchs), so too their children who inherited this Godly soul from their forefathers have the ability to sense Godliness.

Yes, we can detect spirituality. We can detect another soul. We can sense Godliness.  We have the right equipment for that—our Godly soul, Nefesh Elokit.  However, as any scientist would attest, it is not enough to have the “right” equipment; this equipment has to well maintained and properly tuned and calibrated. Luckily, our spiritual detector, the soul, comes with a user manual—the Torah. It instructs us to keep our soul well maintained through observance of 613 mitzvoth—God’s commandments. And to keep it fine-tuned and calibrated, one needs to learn much Torah and emphasize the spiritual over the physical. Then perhaps we can hope to “see” God as our forefathers once did.

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.
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