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A World Transformed
The 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Serge Haroche of France and David Wineland of the U.S. for their discoveries to enable direct observation of quantum particles. Their work has paved the way to building the first quantum computer, which could revolutionize the world of technology. Its speed and capacity will relegate today's computers to the era of the horse and buggy.

Quantum particles are the fundamental building blocks of all matter, but they behave very differently from classic particles, such as atoms. For example, a quantum particle can occupy more than one place at the same time. It can move forward and backward in time. In fact, it is questionable whether quantum particles can be considered matter at all. These particles are so tiny and elusive that they are very difficult to study. In fact, their existence is not directly confirmed, but only surmised, based on complex mathematical formulas.

The most surprising aspect of quantum physics is that all matter is built out particles that, in a sense, are not even there. Where does that leave the physical, material world? Is there any “there” there?

Quantum physicists are not the first to grapple with this mystery. Chassidic philosophy is based on this fundamental question: Why does the physical world exist? What does G-d need it for?

On the one hand, the physical world represents the greatest distance possible from G-dliness. On the other hand, this is where G-d chooses to make His home. How is it possible for the physical world to express G-dliness, when its very existence covers and hides G-d?

Chassidic teachings explain that the very concealment of G-dliness represents His greatest revelation. There are higher spiritual worlds with more intense revelation of G-dliness, but every revelation is limited in a sense, because it reflects only a part of the Divine light, not all of it. The physical world, however, is a place where G-dliness is completely concealed. Because of this concealment, G-d can be present in His entirety. His presence cannot be seen or felt by any of our senses; however, when we completely let go of our own ego and our presuppositions, we can experience G-d as He is, not as we imagine Him to be.

As the field of Physics progresses, there is a growing convergence between the natural sciences and classical Jewish teachings. We are steadily reaching an awareness that the tangible, physical world is an illusion, and all that really exists is energy – that energy being the Divine life-force that animates everything in creation. As we approach the final Redemption, the world is finally ready to assume its original purpose – to be a home for G-d, where He can truly express Himself, to His very Essence.

 

 


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