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Time Dilation
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

Albert Einstein, in his famous theory of relativity, argued that someone in a spaceship traveling at close to the speed of light will have time slow down for him, compared to someone at rest on earth.

How we personally experience time is now being studied in depth by researchers, and not only for high speed travelers. Brain studies have shown that the passage of time can be experienced differently by two people even if they're standing side-by-side.

Experiments have shown, for example, that when someone is in a 45-meter free fall, the brain works four times faster than in a normal setting. Therefore, the person falling experiences that time as four times longer than it was in reality. The same is true whenever we are engaged in a new experience – the brain is more active then, so it seems to take longer. Time in childhood passes slowly, sometimes excruciatingly so, for the child anxious to grow up – because childhood is a time chock-full of new learning and experiences. The child is desperate to speed up time; an older adult might wish to slow it down.


We have been in exile for over 2,000 years, and body and soul, we cry out for reprieve. If only time could somehow be speeded up, and bring the long-awaited Redemption. In Jewish writings, the era of Redemption is often referred to as le'atid lavo – the Time to Come. The Lubavitcher Rebbe offers his own interpretation: We must not only wait passively for the future, but work actively to bring that time closer; to bring the promise of Redemption into actuality.

 There is one burning question that Jews have been asking throughout our history. When will he come? When will Moshiach finally arrive? The founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, once posed this question to Moshiach himself, when he ascended to heaven. Moshiach's reply was, "When your wellsprings will spread outward." He did not give a set date or time; rather, he gave a condition. Moshiach will come when the wellsprings of Chassidic teachings will be disseminated outward.

Since then, the wellsprings of Chassidut have spread throughout the world, in all primary languages, and have reached all segments of Jewry. The Lubavitcher Rebbe tells us that the Redemption has already passed all necessary milestones. The time for Redemption has arrived and should have already been here. The path to bringing Moshiach now is not through waiting but through actions. Through our acts of loving-kindness, study of Torah (primarily the topic of Redemption), faith, prayer and charity, we will merit the immediate revelation of Moshiach.

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



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