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The Train That Never Stops
by Dr. Arnie Gotfryd

A Taiwanese inventor has an innovative idea to make train transportation even more efficient: get rid of the stops.  Until now, you had to choose between a local train which takes forever and an express that saves lots of time but passes most people by.  Peng Yu-Lun's goal was to get the best of both worlds - constant high-speed travel with comfortable pickups and dropoffs at every station.

 

train without stops
train.no.stops
His creative solution involves a small removable car-pod that rides atop the train. Passengers who want to get off climb up into the pod near their stop. As the train speeds past the near end of the station, the pod slides onto elevated rails that smoothly lift the car from the train and bring it to rest. Meanwhile another pod holding boarding passengers gets picked up from the elevated rails at the far end of the station. A special coupling mechanism gradually accelerates the pod and brings it to rest atop the train.  Between stops debarking passengers climb up into the pod while continuing travelers step down into the train.

 

Here's a video to help you visualize the concept.

 

The end result: On a 30 stop route, this train shaves 2 ½ hours off the journey and banks an enormous saving by avoiding  all the energy it takes to decelerate a hulking  train to zero and bring it back up to speed dozens of times a day.  If it proves feasible, this innovation will revolutionize ground travel.

 

Chassidus teaches us that whatever we see or hear packs a potent lesson in our service of the Creator. This is especially the case with developments in science and technology which are synergistic with Chassidus and areemblematic of the coming World of Good promised by Torah.

 

The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out three ways to employ science in divine service - (1) To use it for improving our performance of mitzvos, (2) to use it as an analogy of a Torah concept, and (3) to show how the discovery or innovation itself reveals the essence of G-d in the world.

 

(1) Less time in transit means more time doing what you want to do once you get there.  Faster travel means more good stuff gets done, a definite plus when you want to rack up a lot of mitzvos to bring Moshiach sooner. Several Chassidic Rebbes, starting with the Baal Shem Tov, were capable of miraculously swift travel and used that ability to help needy souls so much more speedily.

 

Another mitzvah this train accomplishes is the mitzvah of conservation - of fuel, cash, clean air,  and natural resources.   

 

(2) As an allegory, a train like this has many applications, for example, that of a teacher and a student. The teacher's knowledge far surpasses that of the students. Still, after lots of explanations the student does come away with something. That student's  little concept links him to his teacher, and by extension, to the depths of his intellect.

 

The train is like the rav; the student is like the pod.  It may seem impossible for a small child to fully comprehend the teacher's lesson since he is so much greater in intelligence.  But with one single concept, he is connected, and once connected he will be transported, not according to his abilities, but according to those of the teacher.

 

Another analogy is to Torah and mitzvos. The train is like Torah and the pod is like the mitzvos. Mitzvos are very specific in their parameters and very localized too, like the stations on the route. Not so, Torah.  There is a principle in Chassidus that all Torah concepts no matter how diverse are related.  On the other hand, since Torah is G-d's will and wisdom, it is exalted far above the physical plane.  The train encompasses all the stations equally but never alights at any, just as the Torah encompasses all the mitzvos it contains without the temporal or spatial limitations of any of them.[1]

 

It's also reminiscent of Rebbe and Chassid. The Rebbe's unrelenting pace and power is in essence impossible to keep up with. Fortunately the Chassid can enter the mivtza-pod, specific Jewish observance campaigns that couple him to the Rebbe so that when he is connected, he is transported at the Rebbe's pace, the pace of Moshiach and Geulah.

 

(3) Beyond the realm of analogy, this unique vehicle carries a unique message directly pertinent to the Days of Moshiach in which we find ourselves.  This technology developed out of the desire to find a win-win solution in which the public on the whole is served concurrently with the competing needs of each individual. This is a foretaste of the better world coming in which win-win solutions will rule.

 

[1] Sicha of Shabbos Parshas Shelach, 5763

Dr. Aryeh (Arnie) Gotfryd, PhD is a chassid, environmental scientist, author and educator living near Toronto, Canada. To read more or to book him for a talk, visit his website at www.arniegotfryd.com.

 

 


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