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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 19 Adar I 5784
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No Barriers!
In 1962, Professor Brian Josephson received a Nobel Prize for his surprising discovery: electrons can pass through walls! They disappear suddenly on one side of a barrier and then just as mysteriously appear on the other side. Recently, researchers on the Physics faculty at the Russel-Berry Institute of Nanotechnology at the Technion have demonstrated that even whole atoms, which are millions of times bigger than a single electron, can also easily pass through barriers.

The movement of matter or energy through a barrier seems impossible under normal conditions. Wouldn’t something have to move aside to allow it to pass through? Where did it disappear to while it was passing through?

The explanation for this phenomenon lies in quantum mechanics, which explains that tiny particles behave sometimes as particles and sometime as waves. A particle can be found only in one place at once, while a wave can diffuse and fill up space. When passing through an obstacle, a particle can switch to a wave in order to accomplish this feat. It was believed in the past that only tiny subatomic particles could assume the properties of waves as well, but it has now been shown that even larger particles like atoms can also sometimes behave as waves. What’s more, it is no longer clear exactly where the boundary lies between tiny, quantum-level particles and larger particles where the laws of macrophysics are in force. Under certain conditions, large particles can pass through boundaries as well.

What lesson in divine service can we learn from quantum mechanics? The fifth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, used to say: “The world says, if we cannot go under we should go above. And I say, to begin with go above!” In other words, from a worldly perspective we often perceive obstacles standing in the way of fulfilling our goals, and we devote a lot of energy to figuring out ways around those obstacles. According to the Chassidic approach, those obstacles do not exist! If we simply persist in carrying out our mission, G-d will assist us, even if that means making barriers melt away.

The same applies to the ultimate “barrier” of all—the walls of exile. Sometimes those walls loom down on us, thick and impenetrable. But the Lubavitcher Rebbe told us, “Open your eyes!” Our state of exile is nothing more than a state of mind. We need to release ourselves and realize that indeed, there is nothing standing in our way. We can serve G-d to the maximum, we can experience positive, uplifting relationships with our friends, our neighbors, our family. The barriers that stand between us and G-d, or between us and other people, are imaginary. They no longer exist.

“G-d’s salvation is in the blink of an eye.” In one moment the barriers will be fully swept away, the blinders lifted, and we will behold G-d in all His glory.


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