B’Tzelem Elohim

The study of the mystical aspects of Torah is a "Catch-22" in that there are a multitude of concepts which in some way are all inter-related and to understand one you need a grasp on all, yet to try to grasp all, you seem to need to know the role of each one.  Aside from being willing to invest a huge number of hours to study, there are things that can help us out - though they require patience. A movie like The Matrix places these concepts into a 'modern midrash’ that can serve as a great teaching tool.

The idea of using a secular works like the Matrix movie to teach Torah concepts may not make sense to a lot of people.  Some may even hold the view that such movies are anti-Torah, based on their theology and how they interpret the movie. From a Torah perspective, this way of thinking is based on an incorrect view of G-d and His Creation.

Everything that exists (past, present and future) is made in “B'tzelem Elohim” (the “Image of G-d”). This includes every thought and creative expression from every human mind. Whatever we conceive, design and make, is patterned after this Image. We can't help it. This is how G-d has designed our brains to work and relate to creation, and thus to G-d.

There are some things that humans think of and create (books and movies for example) that express this Image of G-d more clearly than others. Some folks are just more 'connected’ – though they may not even realize this about themselves. It is important to note that this has nothing to do with how they are 'using' this connection as far as “doing good or evil.” It is simply regarding the expression of various emanations of the Image without “assigning value” to them. For example, mercy, if “unchecked” can be bad, and judgment, if “corrective,” can be good. Even haSatan functions according to this Image of G-d.

The plan for this Matrix study will be to first identify certain themes in the movie that align themselves with the basic principles of what is called the kabbalistic “Etz Chaim,” the “Tree of Life.” This Tree of Life may be presented visually and is essentially a schematic to show how G-d functions within His creation and how His Creation functions within the Image of G-d it was created in.  The study will also include some insight into various concepts that are tied to these foundational ideas as they occur in specific scenes from the movie.

So ... let’s follow the path, up the ladder and down the rabbit hole at the same time, keeping in mind some advice from the movie’s characters:

As the Oracle said to Neo; "Where you must go. Where the path of the One ends. You've seen it in your dreams, haven't you? The door made of light? What happens when you go inside?"

And in the words of Morpheus; “ I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.

And above all, as Persephone said to the Merovingian; “Have Fun.”

This study is not meant to be a primer on kabbalistic concepts.  A basic understanding of these things is required. A good source for this would be articles from the aish.com or chabad.org web sites, as well as books such as "Inner Space" by
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (z"l).

Part One of the study is an overview of characters and themes as they correspond to the Tree of Life

This study is by no means meant to be ‘comprehensive’ in any way. Even if we looked at every idea presented in the Matrix, it would only represent a percentage of the concepts found in kabbalistic thought.

We will begin with the first of the ten Sefirot (emanations of the Image of G-d) and ascend, pointing out some fundamental concepts that will help us understand other aspects of The Matrix.