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Coming to Blows
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

The Large Hadron Collider was first put into effect, amidst great fanfare, in September of 2008. After a flaw was discovered between the two superconducting magnets, operations were suspended until the magnets are repaired. The collider is scheduled to resume operations in September of 2009. To explain the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider in simple laymen's terms, two beams of particles from opposite directions are streamed towards each other at high speeds, approaching the speed of light. When the particles collide, the collision will theoretically release huge quantities of energy, creating a flood of new particles that were never detected in existence before. These new particles can be the key to reveal revolutionary new concepts in physics.

The concept of striking an object in order to release latent energies is not new. The first to take advantage of this principle was Adam, who struck two stones together to release a spark and start the first fire in history.

Chassidic teachings use the concept of striking a stone to illustrate a profound spiritual principle. Hidden within the soul are two levels of spiritual power. One is called “hidden, yet in existence,” and it is likened to the fire that lays within a smoldering ember. It is not immediately apparent, but only needs a slight touch or shaking up to blaze up again. However, there is also a level called “hidden, not in existence.” This is likened to the spark hidden within the flint stone. In truth, the flint stone has no fire at all inside of it. Yet it has the potential to ignite a spark, if struck in the right way.

In order to release the potential inside the stone, simply blowing or raking it is insufficient. One must strike it. Yet, when one brings two flint stones together, one can release a spark and ignite a fire that was never in existence before.

This concept can also explain the many blows and upheavals that the Jewish people have experienced over the course of their stormy history. An olive must be “crushed for the light” – to extract the oil within it. Our suffering during exile has helped us to reveal our capacity for mesirut nefesh, self sacrifice, as well as the strength of our faith and character. These traits were revealed especially during the darkest chapters of our history.

In our time, we have already completed these preparations. We no longer need the “blows” or the “crushing” to reveal the beauty of our souls. The stressful part of exile is over. We are now ready for the period of infinite peace and tranquility, the era of the final Redemption.

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



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