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Wednesday, February 21, 2024 - 12 Adar I 5784
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Physics or Metaphysics?

In 1911, the British physicist Ernest Rutherford proposed an instantly popular model of the atom. From his research it had become apparent that the  mass of the atom was concentrated in the center, the nucleus, and the electrons revolved around it.

His model seemed like a complete and perfect description of reality, but only two years later the idyllic picture was overthrown completely. The elegant model of Rutherford was replaced by the complex equations of Neils Bohr. The atom, which had seemed to be a solid, indivisible particle, was actually made up of many parts. The building blocks of matter were not protons, neutrons and electrons, but more basic forms known as quarks. Particle physics over the years has only grown more complex, with dozens of new particles discovered.

Today the  attention of physicists has turned to an even tinier, more fundamental particle. It is called a "string," and it revolves in ten dimensions, six of which are collapsed within themselves so that they can never be detected. This is known as string theory.

Over the past century, our understanding of matter has undergone revolution after revolution. Neils Bohr himself argued that we must relate to the atom as a mathematical construct rather than as concrete reality. Matter is no longer concrete. The more we investigate its essence, it reveals itself as something ethereal, intangible.

In other words, it is becoming increasingly apparent that as Einstein postulated, matter is energy. Chassidic teachings explain that initially, matter and energy, spiritual and physical, were one. Everything was created with the power of the Divine voice: "And G-d said, let there be light."

The spiritual and physical lights that came into being are not separate from the word of G-d, but emanations of it. That voice was and is the "elementary matter" from which all forms of matter derive.

In order to find evidence for string theory, scientists have delved into the deepest reaches of  theoretical physics, which  may take years and years of research to prove. However, the truths of the inner teachings of Torah will be revealed much before that. In the Messianic era, our sages teach, "All flesh together will see that the word of G-d has spoken." We will be able to sense the word of G-d in an empirical, tangible form.

This revelation began when the Torah was given. There was an intense revelation of G-dliness, as the verse states, "And the people saw the thunder." Sound, which is normally heard, was seen. But this revelation is only a pale reflection of what we will see with the true and complete Redemption.


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