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God and the Infinity of Pi

by Rabbi Shraga Simmons; May 3, 2012 at 02:00:00 PM

PiOne of the most difficult aspects of our efforts to comprehend God is that by essence He is “infinite and transcendent” – i.e. not bound by time or space. We humans, however, view time as a linear progression and space as three dimensions. (See an explanation of this quandary in Aish’s Ask the Rabbi.) reader Jacob Stark shared the following insight: The numerical value of Pi is essentially infinite, in that no repeating pattern occurs or truncates at some point. In fact, computers are known to have calculated Pi to millions of decimal places – with still no pattern in sight.

Now here’s the dichotomy: Although this number is infinite – i.e. “out of our realm” – it remains a feature of our everyday lives. Anyone who has taken basic geometry knows that we use Pi in all sorts of measurements – the area of a circle, the volume of a sphere, etc. In higher mathematics as well, Pi is used in the measurement of angles and other applications where it is seemingly irrelevant. This oddball number is not so odd after all; it impacts so much of the world around us – the cars we drive, the computers we work on, the clothes we wear.

Perhaps this idea brings us just a drop closer to understanding the nature of God. Although He is infinite and may seem far away, He is always right by us in everyday life. Like Pi, which is found in many places not directly related to circumferences and diameters, God interfaces beyond the synagogue, even in the mundane aspects of our life – breathing, thinking, loving.

(For a fascinating biblical source of the value of Pi, see here.)

May 3, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) SarahE, February 26, 2015 5:15 PM

Awesome word picture

Thank you Rabbi for your post. I was discussing something similar to this with my college age daughter just 2 months ago. God revealing Pi to us to explain his infinity. Very cool.

(1) ruth housman, May 20, 2012 8:12 PM

The Wonders of PI

There is a man who wrote a book called Born on a Blue Day. He was diagnosed early on as having special needs, most probably autism spectrum disorder. Although he has problems with relationships he has a companion in life, and he can quote for hours the unraveling numbers of pi correctly. He sees this as a mathematical landscape and he has won many PI contests. It is amazing, as are the incredible artistic and computational abilities of those who are diagnosed in similar ways, including of course the "idiot" savants. It seems a window into the mind of God to me, and I have worked at The League School with such children.

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