Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Nature Of Time

The gemara in Nazir [7a] asks a question: If someone says "I am a Nazir as many times as the number of hairs on my head" he becomes a Nazir for limitless separate periods of nezirus, meaning that after every thirty days he shaves, brings his korbanos and starts again. However, if someone says "I am a Nazir from here until a certain place" we estimate how many days it takes to get to this place. If it takes less than 30 days to arrive, then the person is a Nazir for 30 days [the minimum period of nezirus]. If it takes longer than 30 days, then he is a Nazir for one long period corresponding to the number of days of the trip. 

The question is - Why in the first case of the hair does the person follow many different terms of nezirus while in the second instance he follows just one long term of nezirus? In the second case he should follow as many terms as the amount of days of the trip as in the first case?!

Rava answers that in the "hair" case he keeps separate terms because each hair is separate and distinct from all the other hairs. In contrast, days are not separate from each other. Therefore, when he mentions the time it takes him to reach the place he spoke about, he will only keep one long term.
We from here that time is one long block, one day not distinct from the next. 

The gemara questions this from the pasuk ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר יום אחד - that seems to imply that each day is distinct. Answers the gemara - it is not that each day is distinct from the next but that one day is comprised of a day and night. After 6 of these we have Shabbos.... But we still view time as one solid block, each day connected to the previous and next.

Based on this gemara, explains the Rogochover ztz"l: From our human perspective, time is one continuous flow. That explains the gemara [ב"מ נ"ח] that if one hires someone to guard his cow for a month, he may pay for all 30 days and it is not considered that he paid for the Shabbos labor. This is because all of the 30 days are viewed as one unit. 

From a Divine perspective, every day is an individual unit. It says in the Tosefta [Eduyos Chapter 2] that הימים והשעות כחוט השערה לפני המקום - Days and hours are like a "hair" before Hashem. Just as each hair is distinct, so too, every second is distinct before Hashem.

These is a very deep concept which requires further study....:-)

[הקדמה לצפנת פענח על שמות עמ' י"ג]