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HASHEM-----what is time?


beakman45 Posted - 11 February 2002 15:22

This is one of those ideas that can drive people crazy. I just wanted to know if there are any sources that discuss this topic, even though I'm leaning towards the side that it's not possible.

It would seem that in order to believe in time travel, time would have to be a never moving entity. However I was told that the Maharal says that time is a downward spiral. It would interest me to hear what you have to say. Thanx

MODERATOR Posted - 12 February 2002 15:37

Well, whether time travel is possible depends on whether "time" exists as a real entity at all. Meaning, it is possible, and there have been those who have said this, that time is nothing but a way to measure history, the same way that inches, say, is a way to measure distance. According to this, even before the world was created, there was still "time", since time is not a thing that needs to be created. The Tashbetz holds like this.

So just as you cannot have distance without inches, so too you cannot have events without time. What happened, happened. Time isn’t a thing that you can travel through, or remove, or override. Its merely a measuring stick that our clocks created the same way rulers created inches. If this is so, then time travel is impossible.

However, the majority of Torah authorities hold that time is a thing, the same way space is. It is not merely a measuring stick but rather a creation that came into existence with Brias HaOlam. Prior to Brias HaOlam, there was no time! Rav Saadia Gaon is the first that I can think of off hand who says this, and he is followed by countless others.

Of course, it is impossible to imagine a world without time, but it is also impossible to imagine a world without space either, which is the way things were before Creation. In fact, it was a world without a "world". Its impossible to describe, to understand, and Chazal say we are not supposed to contemplate the way things were b4 creation.

According to this, it would definitely be possible to travel in time, since time is a measurable entity, rather than merely a method of measuring other entities. And just as you could travel through space, you could, theoretically, travel through time.

Of course, regardless of the above dispute, Hashem exists above and beyond time, and is aware of past, present and future, kavyochol, all at once. The above discussion applies only to our world, not to Hashem.

Although I am not aware of anyone in Torah who has actually traveled through time, we do know that people have been shown the future, even to the point of seeing "every generation and its leaders."

As far as the scientists are concerned, pre-Einstein they basically believed that time is absolute but motion is relative. Meaning, something can be moving in relation to me but not in relation to you. Example: I am on a bus traveling 60 MPH. I throw a ball to the back of the bus at a speed of 60 MPH. To me, that ball seems to be moving. But to someone outside the bus, the ball isn’t moving at all, since the bus is going 60 in one direction, and the ball is going 60 in the opposite direction, meaning, the ball is standing in exactly one spot suspended in mid air!

But time, they held, was not relative, but rather absolute.

In 1887, the Michaelson-Morley experiment showed that they were wrong.

Einstein held that even time was not absolute, but rather relative as well. Under different circumstances, time itself would move slower or faster. (I know this is weird sounding stuff, but it appears to work).

If this is true, time is not really independent of space, and time travel may well be within the realm of possibility, just as space travel is. (Sounds like science fiction, I know. Maybe it is. These things change a lot).

As for the Maharal, if you get a hold of Rabbi Aryeh Carmel's translation of the Maharal's Hakdoma to Gevuras Hashem ("The Book of Divine Power"), the appendix explains in illustrated laymen's terms, what the Maharal means in light of the relativity theory of time.

nree613 Posted - 13 February 2002 20:49

I heard that the D'vrei Yoel explains that Moshe Said K'Chatzos and not B'Chotzos because Hashem Made the world move thru 190 years (400 - 210 = 190) on the night of Makos Bechoros and therefore the stars would of been off by more then a few minutes. ( I assume that the years were Hebrew years and could of been off by a lot).

bld Posted - 13 February 2002 20:49

'time is a way to measure history, the same way that inches is a way to measure distance'.

I just want to point out that that is not an accurate analogy. time & inches are not comparable. Minutes & inches would be comparable since they are both measurements. Time & Space would be comparable.

That's why I don't understand your first explanation. Even without a concrete measurement to measure time, time would still exist the same way space would still exist between 2 points even if there was no such thing as inches & feet to measure the space.

MODERATOR Posted - 14 February 2002 1:21


We are using 2 diff definitions of "time". You’re not arguing with me.

I am saying that according to these opinions, time doesn’t really exist. The entire concept is merely a creation of the clocks and watches, just like inches. What you call "time" I am referring to as "history", meaning, the occurring of events. "History" is what happens, "time" is when it happens. The "when" is merely a measurement, a point in history, the same way an inch is a point on a line. This opinion says, you cant travel through time, since time doesn’t really exist, its not a thing. Events are things, and when they happen, they’re over and done with. Time is not something that can be over ridden since it is not real.


The Divrei Yoel is in a Drush for Shabbos HaGadol. He quotes the Nezer HaKodesh who explains the phrase "Hamachlif es hazemanim", meaning, that Hashem "switches times". Te NZH"K says it means that Hashem kind of "cuts and pastes" one day onto another time period, so that you can have, let's say, Jan. 15, 2055 happening tomorrow. He says that’s what happened with Yetzias Mitzrayim - Hashem took the day that was supposed to happen after 400 years of Golus and made it occur 210 years after, which is how we explain the discrepancies.

Then he goes on to say that the reason Moshe said "Kachatzos" is because since that day was not really the day that Pharaoh had on his calendar, but rather a day that was transplanted from 190 years in the future, Chatzos would have come out a bit before or after Pharaoh expected.

It's a pretty cool "vort", but its actually the opposite of time travel. Time travel means you are traveling through time. Time remains the same, but you go from point A to point B in the time stream. Here, time itself is traveling from one point in history to another.

But I hear the point. The world actually experienced a day in time other than the one that was scheduled on the calendar to come. So I guess in a way that is time travel.

The yesod belongs to the Nezer Hakodesh. The Divrei Yoel merely used it.

beakman45 Posted - 28 May 2002 2:08

Just curious...where does the Tashbetz have this shitah? Is it in a t'shuva? Thanx

MODERATOR Posted - 28 May 2002 3:15

Tashbetz III:245

green Posted - 02 June 2002 4:25

I know that obviously Hashem exists outside of time, but doesn't time itself exist as a creation? two things- first of all, I think its the sforno that says on beraishis bara elokim- mikan sheHashem bara zman. and if time is a function of matter, then by creating matter, Hashem had to have created time.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 June 2002 23:55

Not everyone agrees that time is dependent on matter. Its possible that time is merely a "fact", that doesn’t need to be "created." Like, lets say the rule the A^2+B^2=C^2, is just a fact, not a creation, and did not need an act of creation to validate it (so says the Chazon Ish).

Note: Do NOT think into this stuff - it’ll make you nuts. We cant imagine a world without time any more than we can imagine a world without matter.

jewsrok Posted - 03 February 2003 2:09

Oh my gosh I think I’m in heaven- I LOVE this time travel stuff. but I don't think into it (for fear of going seriously psychotic). but mod- that whole explanation- so cool! thanks

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