The High School that I went to in Brooklyn, New York, was named for John Dewey, and it was founded on his educational philosophy of allowing for independent study and non-competitiveness. So, we didn’t get traditional grades in our classes- we received an “M” for Mastery, or and “R” for Retained for Reinforcement. There was an intermediate grade of MC- Mastery with Condition- which meant that you had to make something up before the grade went onto that dreaded permanent record as an “M.” The last science class that I completed in my academic career was HS Chemistry, and I received an “M” in that course after the following conversation with Mr. Winters- “I will pass you in this class if you promise me that you will NEVER take Chemistry again!” I am here to tell you that I have honored that commitment to this day!
So, I am here to admit that, while it was a good week for God’s PR, as the discovery of the Higgs boson particle dominated the news, I can’t pretend to understand the profundity of its implications. I gather that it is a very big deal. I read, or tried to read, the article about it on Wikipedia, and what I learned is that Higgs himself is an atheist and not at all pleased that his discovery is popularly referred to as the “God particle.”
What I DO understand is this: centuries ago, Kabbalists spoke of the shattering of the vessels at the time of creation, whereby sparks of Divine energy were scattered throughout the universe. They postulated that these Divine sparks could be found within each human being and redeemed through a process of tikkun olam, repair of the world. These sparks of God within each of us represent our potential for holiness. It is our task to fan the sparks within ourselves and within our world into flames. The Higgs boson may explain some deep secrets of matter to particle physicists, but it doesn’t explain our purpose in the world, nor does it inspire us to act on behalf of redemption. For that we need the real God particle, the spark of God within each of our souls.