Light and The Timelessness of God
by Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe, said, “Such is the way of the Baal Shem Tov (founder of the Chasidic movement) – One must learn a lesson in avodas HaShem (serving God) from every physical thing that one sees or hears. Whoever follows this path and uses all physical things for spiritual improvement will instill in himself and in his descendants a spark of inspiration in serving G-d.”
Everything we see and that was created is God talking to us with a message. Today, more than ever, if we just open our eyes, Godliness can be perceived all around us. This awareness seriously deepens our appreciation for every breath of ours. We are never alone, God Almighty is always at our sides. Modern-day science can help one envision, perceive, and comprehend concepts of Godliness that were difficult to imagine in past generations.
Our Earth Keeps Pulsating Every 26 Seconds and no one knows why!
Chassidus helps us appreciate why, and what, this phenomenon is communicating to us.
This corporeal world (essentially – vibrating energy) is the physical expression of its underlying source/root, God Himself. The essential name of God that describes the whole energy that created this Universe – YHVH; its numerical value is 26!!!!
The earth pulsates every 26 seconds to express this essential energy that reaches its boundary at 26, only to be renewed for another round of 26! God’s name and energy are constantly renewing and vivifying our world right before our eyes.
On Rosh Hashanah, our mystics tell us the old pulsating energy and “light of God” vivifying the universe for the past year retracts back into its source only to be reintroduced in a fresh new way on the day of Rosh Hashanah.
In Psalm 27, we say twice a day leading up to the High Holidays, “To David, God is my light..” our sages say this refers to Rosh Hashana, when God is our light to bless us with all necessary blessings.
“Many say, “Who will show us goodness?” Raise over us the light of Your countenance, O Lord.” Psalms 4:7
“Rejoice not against me, my enemy; although I have fallen, I will rise; although I will sit in darkness, the Lord is a light to me.” Micha 7:8
The energy of God and God’s interaction with the world is described in our literature in symbolic style by the most sublime physical object we have, and that is light. Massless, fast (and in one-second circles the earth seven+ times. NOT coincidental AND on Rosh Hashana, the books say every hour represents seven+ days of the coming year), and a fundamental energy source. Understanding light helps us somewhat connect and appreciate the qualities of God Almighty.
The following three paragraphs is a quote from a Chassidic Discourse given by Rabbi MM. Schneerson Yud Shevat 1962
“In regards to the “Oir Ein Sof” – the light with no end, there are two explanations (to this description) 1, the light “emanating from” the infinite, Eternal one and 2, the light itself is, eternal infinite with no end.
In this discourse, we intend that the light itself has no end (qualities of God Himself) (as opposed to just meaning, FROM the infinite one). The reason for this is because, truthfully, the expression Ein Sof – no end (can only refer to) the light itself and even more so to the concept of “The Name (of God),” because in many ways, “The Name” and, Oir-Light they are one. ( Likutei Torah explains THE NAME – IS the light and radiance ( metaphorically) that is drawn from the root luminary (the essence of God). Before the world was created, God’s essence AND His name, the light, were included and absorbed in the source of the light).
… the reason that the light itself is without end (endless, qualities of infinity) is because the light is an aspect of its source (Gods essence, and since the source luminary from which the light radiates God, is truly infinite in every way, the light (an actual radiation of the source) it also manifests and expresses those same characteristics.)
Einstein discovered that if the speed of light is an absolute constant, then time, space, and matter are relative. Not only is the speed of light absolute, but it also calibrates everything important in the universe, including time!
We usually think of time as an absolute. Due to our experience with the constant ticking of a clock, we are under the impression that time moves at the same rate for everyone and that time is governed by some external universal clock that is the same for everyone. How can time be relative?
To understand this concept, I can use a simple thought experiment involving a laser beam reflected from a mirror on a train. A light beam leaves the laser, travels to the mirror, is reflected, and then travels back to the laser. The light beam moves straight up and down vertically to an observer sitting on the train.
From the reference frame of a person standing on the ground watching the train go by, the light beam appears to trace a zig-zag path reflected from the top mirror.
Now, if the person sitting on the train wants to measure the speed of light, they will measure the distance that the light travels along the vertical line between the laser and the top mirror and from the mirror back to the laser. Then, they will divide that total distance by the time it takes for the light beam to bounce back and forth. Speed is calculated as the distance something travels in a given amount of time.
However, if the person standing on the ground attempts to measure the speed of light, they will measure the distance that the light travels along the zig-zag path and divide that by the time it takes for the light beam to travel up and back down to the laser. The distance that the zig-zag pattern traces out is longer than the vertical, so the person on the ground calculates the speed of light to be greater than the speed that someone on the train would measure.
A greater distance divided by the same amount of time will result in a greater speed since: Speed=Distance/Time
This violates the principle that the speed of light is the same for all observers. How can both observers measure a different rate for the speed of light when the speed of light is absolute and isn’t dependent on the observer’s reference frame?
When the person on the train and the person on the ground compare notes, they will realize that the person on the ground measured a higher speed than the speed of light!
Einstein realized that the only way for both observers to measure the same speed for light is for the time measurement to change in proportion to the length change. Since speed is distance divided by time, a longer distance divided by a longer time gives the same result as a smaller distance divided by a correspondingly smaller time. If each observer measures a different time so that the ratio stays the same, then the speed of light remains the same. This is illustrated by the fact that 2 divided by 2 is the same as 5 divided by 5. Both ratios result in the number 1. Essentially, Distance/Time=Distance/Time.
So, for the speed of light to remain the same for both observers, the time that the person on the train measures must be less than the amount of time that the person on the ground measures. For the person on the ground, it would have taken longer for the light beam to travel from the laser and return to its starting point after reflecting off the mirror.
How can two different observers measure different durations for the same event? This can occur only if each observer’s time flows at a different rate! The clock of the person on the train must move slower when compared to the clock of the person on the ground!
If the train moves faster, the zig-zag stretches out further, and the total distance traveled by the light beam, according to a stationary observer on the ground, increases. This translates to the clock moving even slower on the train compared to a clock on the ground.
As the train approaches the speed of light, the clock runs continually slower. If the train could reach the speed of light, time would come to a complete standstill on the train. If the train could reach the speed of light, the person on the train would essentially be timeless. If the train were traveling at the speed of light, an infinite amount of time could elapse for someone standing on the ground, while absolutely no time elapsed for the person on the train.
Thinking about this a bit more, we can conclude that the person on a train traveling at the speed of light experiences timelessness! Essentially, all points in time are collapsed to one point in time. Time isn’t moving a single millisecond for the person on the train, while the world outside of the train is moving through time!
No one believed Einstein’s theory when it was first released. After careful experiments were designed and performed, the data conclusively demonstrated that Einstein’s theory was correct!
As someone moves faster, their clock slows down. The person in motion does not realize this slowdown of time because the clock in their head also slows down! To the person who is moving on the train, nothing has changed. It seems as if it is business as usual. The clock of the moving person only appears to be moving slower when observed by someone who is not moving along with the clock! This means that time is not an absolute quantity. Time is entirely relative.
It is essential to point out that this time difference is tiny for speeds we normally move at in a car or plane. As an example, the clock of someone moving at 60 miles per hour runs at 0.999999999999996 times the rate of a clock which is stationary in a person’s home. A clock in an airplane moving at 500 mph runs at 0.99999999999972 time the rate of a clock on the ground. These small-time differences are imperceptible in most situations.
However, these miniscule differences in time are significant and necessary for GPS satellites. The GPS in your phone functions based on this math because the clocks on GPS satellites run at a different rate than the clocks here on earth. This time difference is extremely small, as the clock on the GPS satellite runs slower by a rate of 7 microseconds (7 millionths of a second) every day due to Special Relativity. This is due to the speed of the satellite as it orbits the earth, which is 14,000 km/hr. This small time difference will result in a large miscalculation of distances here on earth if it is not accounted for.
(Note: there is also a time difference on satellite clocks due to General Relativity, which Einstein formulated after Special Relativity was introduced. In General Relativity, Einstein showed that gravity also affects the rates at which clocks move.)
In contrast, these differences are more pronounced at speeds that are a significant fraction of the speed of light. For example, the clock in a spaceship moving at 50% of the speed of light runs at 86.6% the rate of a clock on Earth (i.e., the clock runs 13.4% slower). If this spaceship were to travel at this speed for 86.6 years and then return to Earth, 100 years would have passed on Earth. This space traveler would think they traveled ~14 years into the future. The space traveler’s appearance of traveling into the future is because they experienced 86 years according to their clock, while everyone else on earth experienced 100 years. As another example, if this spaceship traveled at 99% the speed of light for the same 86.6 years, 613.89 years would have passed on the earth. This space traveler would feel like they traveled ~527 years into the future.
Again, this sounds impossible, but this relativity of time, based on the absolute speed of light, has been proven to many decimal points in countless experiments.
If someone could travel at the speed of light, their clock would move infinitely slow. In other words, their clock would be completely stopped while clocks on the earth were moving normally. This space traveler could travel an infinite number of years into the future and feel like no time passed! Effectively, if someone could reach the speed of light, they would simultaneously experience all points in time.
As God YHVH is described as “The light of the universe” and God’s name means past, present, and future all in one, this phenomenal property of light helps us appreciate this description in anthropomorphic terms of God as “timeless.”
God is never confined or constrained by time. God is not linearly progressing through time. God Himself lives outside of time while time is merely a created thing, just like space, matter, and energy through which God manifests Himself on a very limited basis.
God experiences all points in time (past, present, and future) simultaneously, just like light. God knows the end from the beginning. God is Timeless. God is Eternal.
For a thousand years are in Your eyes like yesterday,
which passed, and a watch in the night. Psalms 90:4