The Ending of ‘The Matrix’ Trilogy From a Jewish Lens

This is a follow-up to ‘Identifying the Angel of Death’.

In the above scene from the conclusion of The Matrix trilogy, Neo (the “messiah”) and Smith (the personification of evil, ie. “Satan”) square off in their final encounter. By this point, Smith has infected every living being in the Matrix (ie. in the world). Neo is the last man standing. He puts up a valiant effort trying to defeat Smith (over the course of a very long fight scene). Smith is just about to win when he realizes something. He had foreseen it all before. It was “inevitable”. Neo, too, realizes something. He has been doing it all wrong; there is no need to fight Smith with his fists. It really was “inevitable”—Smith needs to win. Neo allows Smith to infect him. In so doing, Smith mistakenly connects himself to the Source (ie. “God”), since Neo is directly linked to the Source (much like Mashiach and Hashem). Through that link, Smith is obliterated once and for all. The Matrix is “reloaded” into a perfect new world.

Identifying the Angel of Death

This week we begin reading the Torah anew with parashat Beresheet. Originally, God created a perfect world that was entirely good. He warned Adam not to consume of the Tree of Knowledge, for that would introduce evil—and death—into the world. The First Couple consumed the fruit anyway, thus putting a time limit on their lives, and the lives of all future human beings. A simple reading suggests that death only entered Creation at the time that Adam and Eve consumed the Forbidden Fruit. According to tradition, that took place on the Sixth Day, the self-same day that they were created. It was on the Sixth Day that God completed His work, and said that “behold, it was very good [tov me’od].” (Genesis 1:31) The Midrash (Beresheet Rabbah 9:5) states that Rabbi Meir would read these words not tov me’od, but rather tov mot, “death is good”! God, of course, foresaw all of human history from the very beginning, and intended for death to exist. Therefore, the existence of death, too, is a good thing.

On a deeper level, God had always intended for Adam and Eve to consume the Fruit. Continue reading

Why Bow Left and Right at the End of Amidah?

This weekend we complete the yearly cycle of Torah readings with the final parasha, V’Zot HaBerakhah. Here we read Moses’ last words to the nation before his passing, starting with a blessing for each tribe of Israel. The prologue to the blessings introduces God as coming for Israel “from Sinai, and arising from Seir unto them. He shined forth from Mount Paran, and He came with holy myriads at His right, [to give] a fiery law to His people.” (Deuteronomy 33:2) The Sages use this verse as one of the supports for the practice of taking three steps back and bowing to each side when concluding the Amidah prayer. What is the connection between the two, and why do we take three steps and bow, anyway? Continue reading