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True Imagination
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

"Imagination is more important that knowledge. Knowledge is limited, while imagination is infinite." So said Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time. Intelligence is the ability to sort and classify things--which by definition limits them. This object belongs in this category and not in others. However, imagination breaks through all the boundaries of reality. This is why only a small number of phenomena have a logical explanation--while in imagination anything is possible.

In the teachings of Chassidism, the power of imagination is called "hash'arah." The word hash'arah has the same root as shaar--gate. Through imagination one can step through a gate to a new world. Intellect argues--this is impossible! It cannot be! Imagination says, just for that reason, this is something to think about!

In essence, this is the reason that children are blessed with a vivid imagination, while adults (meaning, those more developed intellectually) use it less and less. However, in the teachings of Chassidism, imagination is not just a tool of children but plays an important role in establishing reality.

In King Solomon's famous poem "Eshet Chayil," A Woman of Valor, traditionally sung on Friday nights, it is written, "Her husband is known at the gates." Chassidic teachings explain that the husband in the verse represents G-d and the wife is the Jewish people. The husband, i.e. G-d, becomes known through the "gate" that a Jew opens for Him in his or her mind and soul.

Naturally, both the thought and imagination must be firmly grounded in Torah sources. This is the essence of Chassidic teaching--to provide us with the tools to allow our imagination to soar in our understanding and appreciation of G-dliness.

Thoughts of G-dliness influence one's entire day-to-day life and improve one's ability to fulfill G-d's desires. The Lubavitcher Rebbe added that studying the topic of Moshiach and Redemption in Torah sources inspires us to work towards the Geulah and enables us to begin to live in the spirit of Redemption.

Then we are assured that G-d will connect thought to action, and transform our imagination to reality. When we envision the Redemption to ourselves, we then engage in activities to bring it into reality. The Redemption will be revealed when all of us do our part to bring this dream of the ages to fruition. We will then wake up and realize that the exile that passed was just a dream, and Geulah is the true reality.

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



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