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by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

It's readily obvious to us that if we want something to move, we need to apply some sort of force to it--perhaps by approaching it directly and giving it a push. We could also apply force indirectly--such as through throwing a stone at it, or tapping it with a rod. In any event, though, there must be direct contact between the force and the object you want to move. In physics, this rule is called the principle of locality, meaning that an object can only be influenced or moved by a force in its immediate environment.

However, this law is violated by a phenomenon in quantum mechanics called entangled particles. According to quantum mechanics, entangled particles exert an influence on each other even when they are widely separated in space. They do not even need to be particles of the same type or mass. For example, an electron and neutron can make up an entangled pair, and be on two opposite sides of the galaxy, and still have an instantaneous influence on each other.

The discovery of entangled particles is revolutionary, one that shatters the fundamental assumptions of physics. However, in the world of Torah study, this phenomenon is not surprising. It is a well-known concept that we can influence others through speech or thought, even without direct contact with that individual.

It is also known that spiritual influence breaks the boundaries not only of space but of time as well. For example, through prophecy one can see the future, and through teshuvah, one can change the past!          

Our sages teach us to work past our sense of individuality, which causes us to believe that we are all independent and separate from one another, and rather to live with the sense that "all Jews are responsible for one another." In other words, it makes no difference where a Jew is found or which level of understanding he has reached--whatever he does, he has an influence on other Jews in the world as well as on the future of the entire world.

According to the words of Maimonides, the responsibility is on the shoulders of each one of us. Through even the simplest action or word, we can bring the Redemption to the entire world. "Through doing one mitzvah, one can tip the balance for oneself and the entire world and bring about salvation and rescue."

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.

 

 


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