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Rav Dessler zt"l



The Slifkin Affair

Selected Translations and commentary of Michtav Me'Eliyahau Vol II

Page 150

Third paragraph:
"[The passage of] time is felt to man in relation to the [frequency of] new impressions that he receives [i.e. experiences]. To the extent that the quantity of new impressions increases, [in direct proportion] man will feel the time as longer. It is known that one year from [a person's] early youth is imprinted in [his] memory as a duration that is far longer than [that of a] year of maturity because to a boy, everything is new and [thus] he absorbs many new impressions."

Synopsis of the fourth paragraph:
Rav Dessler explains that every moment is actually a new opportunity to exercise our free will. Because circumstances are constantly changing around man, he is always put in new situations and is always afforded new opportunities to exercise his free will under the new set of circumstances. This endless procession of ever-changing free will opportunities is what establishes our perception of the passage of time in our minds.

Fifth Paragraph:
"Before Adam's sin, all [of mankind's] awareness of [his own] freewill was focused entirely on one point [whether to eat from the eitz hadaas or not] and only in it [this point] was there the possibility of experiencing a new impression. Other than this [one point] Adam's life was connected to the truth [in the sense that his life was lived] within a perception that there was really nothing outside of the truth. A [life which is experienced by a] connectedness such as this does not allow room for change and renewal [of impressions] at all. It thus emerges that [man's] awareness of [the passage of] time then [i.e. before Adam's sin] was very weak and thin if we compare it to our awareness of [the passage of] time because there was no room for renewal and change [in Adam's life], which is the very essence of what time is [i.e. it's true meaning, its raison raison d'etre], other than in this one point. Concordantly, the feeling of [the passage of] time was entirely different then, from our awareness of [the passage of] time now."

Rav Dessler speaks specifically about Adam HaRishon's perception of time (not the actual flow of real time). This follows Rav Dessler's shita that time has no real meaning in our perception without new impressions (hischadshus0. Since Adam Harishon's  free-will (bechira) was concentrated on one area alone, his feeling of hischadshus was dramatically reduced consequently making his awareness of time "weaker" than ours. Adam Harishon basically lived in near absolute dveikus to the emes and therefore his havchana of time differed from ours. This does not mean that time stopped working (when I day-dream time does not stop working, it is rather my perception of time that changes). That is why he quotes the Ramban to the effect that each "yom" was an actual day of real time, but in addition the word "yom" also connotes a deeper understanding (the sefiros).

In summary, each "yom" of creation was an actual day of 24 hours of flow of real time which is quite understandable even to a child. The deeper understanding like all "sod" is less comprehensible. Both meanings are simultaneously true.

Page 152.  After quoting the entire Ramban, Rav Dessler states as follows:
"And it is noteworthy that sometimes the Ramban writes there [in his pirush] that this and this particular day [of creation] "alludes"
to this and this particular 1000 year period (of our six thousand year world) or that it "corresponds" to it, and sometimes he writes utilizing ontological terminology, that this and this particular day is this and this particular thousand year period. That is, sometimes he writes [using terminology that corresponds] with our [physical] perception, and as we've mentioned before, that the Torah documents events as we perceive them utilizing our terminology and thus, they (the days) of creation only "allude" to the six thousand year period; and sometimes he (the Ramban) writes according to their fundamental essence [in which case] the inner essence of the six days of creation, and the spiritual revelations of the six thousand years are really one and the same.

So now we see that the only time they are literally the same is at their fundamentally spiritual level, not at their physical level. Real-time as measured on the clock is the same whether for Adam HaRishon or man today.

Page 154, The Map Mashal:

"And the example for this: A world map, every point on it representing a [different] city, is covered by an [opaque] paper which has one hole in it [large enough to see only one city at a time]. When we slide the paper across the surface of the map, we can see, through the hole, city after city, and it seems to us that when one city is seen [through the hole] the past and future cities are not here. But the truth is that the cities are really all simultaneously here except that they are covered [but] when we remove the cover, all of them will be revealed together at one time. So too is it with man, they reveal to him in each and every moment of the present, point after point of his essence and the previous point is already concealed from his eyes because it already pertains to the past however [the truth is that] it really does [currently] exist in his soul and does not go out of existence. And when the concealment of time is finally nullified after death and the cover of corporeality is finally removed, he will see all at once. All of his spiritual essence will be revealed, with all of the points of light [i.e. spiritual revelation] and darkness [corporeal concealment] appearing as one hewn entity. And then he will see that time was merely a concealment because all [essence of man] is really one [unified] entity which exists together at once. This is the world of eternity which possesses no past or future"

In Rav Dessler's mashal, the map is our inner awareness of the essence of spirituality (mahus a haruchanis) and time is the motion of the paper sliding across the surface of the map (i.e. flow or clock time).

In view of the above map mashal, Rav Dessler's meaning now becomes clear. Adam HaRishon did not posses the levels of concealment (hester) that we do and thus was able to take a look at his world and perceive absolute spiritual revelation in all of its facets other than one, the eitz hadaas. This has nothing to do with the real flow of time; rather, because there was very little room for change in Adam's life, the flow of time was perceived by him in a very weak fashion almost as if it didn't exist. A good example of this would be R' Chaim Volozhin's famous explanation of "shom'im ess hanir'ah v'roin ess hanishma".