This past Shabbat was pi shabbat. The Julian calendar date in the United States expressed 3.141592658. March 14, 2015 9:26 AM and 58 seconds.
Mathematical symbol pie represents a relationship. It represents the relationship between the radius or diameter of the circle and its circumference. How many things or concepts in our lives are meant to represent relationships between two abstract concepts? Quite a lot, but perhaps we don’t recognize it because they are so commonplace. The measurement of miles per hour leaps to mind, as I just saw the video in which a young man asks his girlfriend how many miles they will have traveled if they drive for one hour at 80 mi./h. The woman struggles with the relationship. She tries to work it out in her head, working from other relationships she knows, trying to figure out how long it will take her to go 80 miles. For some reason she starts at 35 miles an hour, and gets confused trying to double that and add 10. She fails to grasp that she already has all the tools he needs. All the information she needs is built into the question.
I get the sense that a lot of life’s troubles arise from not understanding that we already have all the tools we need, and that we might just be mistaking what are the qualities and capabilities of those tools are in order to understand our world and lives in a useful way. When we do not spend time playing with the tools that we have, you become clumsy and maladaptive. When we are not curious about the very things that are in front of us, we taken for granted and ignore their sophistication, there myriad usefulness, and the great joy and silliness that we can feel went engaging them.
I noticed this quite profoundly when I was looking into the kabbalistic expressions of that very fun ratio pi. It goes a little something like this. My friends started posting on Facebook places in the Old Testament where the measure circles as articulated. They’re gleeful to point out that these ancients were pretty darn close to pi. They stretch a bit to find hints that would show us that they understood that there was a particular relationship between the diameter and circumference of a circle. Renaissance era rabbis take a very infrequent and seemingly mistaken spelling of the word line, draw out their numerical values by doing good Amatoria, and show that the relationship between the properly spelled word and the improperly spelled word multiplied by the times that it appears spelled improperly in the text actually equals the closest approximation that the ancients had for the value of pi. That’s pretty cool. But it seems a bit of a stretch. And it also isn’t helping me understand anything about reality for my life.
The misspelled word thee renaissance era rabbis make a big deal about is the word line. the word line is a masculine word in Hebrew language. And in their philosophy the line represents masculinity. The masculine aspects of life are consider to be single focused, Linear, Driven to Direct goals. On the other hand, femininity is represented by the circle. The Circle represents the cycles that repeat throughout nature in our lives, it represents expansiveness and the ability to contain contradictions. It is also quite obviously the Portal for Life. The mistaken spelling of the Word line in these circumstances turns it into a feminine word. The word line as feminine would then represent some relationship between the masculine and feminine. So now we have one word that when analyzed signifies the relationship between the masculine and the feminine hey the very word structure.
But what are the characteristics of this relationship? Well those are the characteristics of the value of pi. Pie is considered a transcendental number by mathematicians. It is infinite and unpredictable, we cannot truly know how long it is and if and when it will stop and we cannot accurately predict a pattern reoccurring in those numbers. It is a process of infinitely refined approximation.
Making this even more fun is that despite is going on Shabbat. Shabbat is understood to be the most feminine time of the week. We are introducing the feminine into a very linear week by letting go of all the tasks that we reserve for the week, And instead rest and Recuperate and seek spiritual inspiration. And of course quite popularly, sexual relations on this day are encouraged in the Jewish tradition.
Now I get to thinking about the relationship between men and women. As a man when confronted with some conflict or some problem I want to fix it and get it done. The feminine aspect doesn’t really communicate that way. It doesn’t necessarily fix problems by directly addressing them, but gets to know them works around them in order to get a comprehensive view of the situation. As a man I rarely find this fulfilling. As a philosopher I love it. So if we take those characteristics of pie into our hearts as we interact with the men and women in our lives, but with the masculine and feminine aspects within ourselves, Or with the masculine and feminine aspects of the world we will see that it is nothing that’s ever finally solved. It’s a process of constant refinement and approximation. One can never truly and completely understand the other or possessed the other or control the other, nor will this task ever be done. The masculine can get some satisfaction that refinement has occurred. Another few places of pie have been reached in understanding and helping in some small way the feminine. And the feminine continues on refreshed by a somewhat comprehensive expression of the ever flowing. Is a good enough approximation that she can work with.
Pie then also summarizes in a way the teachings of Rabbi Tarson. We did not begin this work of calculating pie. And we cannot complete this work of calculating pot. But it is not for us to stop. The master, this urge for life is insistent. But we the workers are lazy. The work is very very long I think we can reduce some of the suffering of this long long labor by keeping an eye on the pie. By understanding and enjoying the fact that there’re these profound relationships that are indeed expressing themselves and giving us some direction, but we really will never know the final steps in that direction. And as long as we keep our minds on that concept we are engaged with the work, we are off the hook for a final result. Just keep at it, and enjoy how beautiful it is.