In the area of study known as Quantum Physics, there is a remarkable phenomenon known as “quantum entanglement.”

Without going into too much detail, the relevant information about quantum entanglement for the purposes of this post is to understand that particles that are part of a system react to a change that occurs to another particle in the system simultaneous with that change, without even the delay necessary for the information to travel at the speed of light from one particle to the other. In other words, you and I cannot know about anything that has happened anywhere else until the information reaches us. Then we can react. But this information takes time to travel. In quantum entanglement, particles that are part of a system react to one another IMMEDIATELY, without the necessary time it would take for the information regarding the change of one particle to reach the other particle(s) even if that information were travelling at the speed of light. Since faster than light travel is not possible, there must be some other factor that causes these particles to be “entangled” with one another at all times and places, despite the space between them. This is sometimes called, “spooky action at a distance.”

Here is a question someone emailed me:

Since TIME is one of the dimensions of the universe, shouldn’t entanglement not only be “spooky action at a (linear) distance”, but, also, “spooky action across expanses of time”?!  Cannot an action taken or decision made “now” impact events in the future — even the distance future?  Since, according to physics, the past, present, and future are not fundamentally different, could not an action taken in the “present” affect even PAST events?!!  Is it possible that a righteous act done today can mitigate the suffering undergone by someone in our distant past?  What do you think of this idea?  Did any of our Gaonim (sages) have similar thoughts? Am I way off the mark? or is this possible?
      I would like to propose that this is indeed plausable, based on an incident in the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), according to our Oral Tradition. Let us examine a passage in I Samuel 14:
      At the end of a (successful) war against the Philistines, the Israelite army is famished and desperate to eat. They begin slaughtering animals for food, but word reaches King Saul that the people, in their haste, are not allowing the blood of the animal to drain sufficiently before eating it, thereby violating the prohibition against eating blood. Saul calls for the people to gather and he oversees the slaughtering of the animals to ensure no one eats meat before the blood is properly drained.
      Verse 34 contains a puzzle. Saul commands the people, “ושחטתם בזה,” meaning, “slaughter in this,” or “slaughter with this,” but the verse does not tell us what the “this” was that Saul referred to. Rashi offers that the plain meaning is either “in this place,” or “with this knife,” though it is peculiar that the verse leaves these specifics out of the narrative.
      Indeed, the Midrash (VaYikra Rabah 25) tells us that Saul referred to a knife, and the wording was chosen to hint that the word בזה — “with this” — is a description of the knife itself. How so?
      The numerical value of the word בזה is 14. According to the Midrash, the knife Saul showed the people to use for slaughter was a knife 14 “fingerlengths” long (about 14 inches). Until the time, it was typical to use a smaller knife, which complicated slaughter and often caused problems that rendered the animal unkosher. Saul’s knife, however allowed the slaughter to be performed more easily and with less risk of botching the procedure. This knife-length was thenceforth embraced as standard Jewish halachic (legal) practice. According to the Midrash, Saul was the innovator of this improvement in the practice of kosher slaughter.
      The Midrash goes on to ask: “When was Saul rewarded by G-d” for this? The Midrash answers: On the day the Israelites went to war against the Philistines, and cites a verse at the end of Chapter 13:
“And it was on the day of the war, there was no sword nor spear found in the hand of the entire nation that was with Saul and Jonathan, and it was found for Saul and Jonathan.”
      Without getting into too much analysis, on the face of it, the verse appears to contradict itself. At first it says no weapons were found for anyone, and then it says they were found for Saul and Jonathan. According to Rashi (apparently based on the above Midrash), the verse indicates a sequence of events. At first there were no weapons, but then, miraculously, weapons become found by Saul and Jonathan such that now the Israelite army could fight and defeat the Philistines.
      According to the Midrash, THIS was the reward for Saul having upheld and enhanced kosher meat slaughter in the above incident. As a reward for using knives to uphold the Torah, Saul was rewarded with knives (swords, etc.) when he needed them.

      But there’s something MAJORLY difficult here. You may have noticed that the CAUSE of the reward (Saul’s actions in Ch. 14) come AFTER effect (the reward in Ch. 13). How is this possible?

Most classic commentaries choose to understand that the Midrash means to identify the incident with Saul and the knife as an example of many similar incidents in which Saul introduced this reform. The Midrash cites this one because this is where it appears in the text. But undoubtedly, there were many similar incidents to this prior to the one in Ch. 14 for which Saul was rewarded in Ch. 13. This resolves the apparent paradox.

However, the Etz Yoseph commentary shares a different and radical view.


According to Etz Yoseph, since G-d knows the future, in this incident G-d payed Saul the reward for his future merit, even though he had not yet performed the act for which he would merit the reward.

If we were to reword the Etz Yoseph‘s comments in the terminology of modern quantum mechanics, we might say that this is no paradox at all, since all moments in time are linked along a dimensional plane. That being the case, just as we find “entanglement” between two particles within a system across the dimension of space, the same could be said about events across an expanse of time (even “backwards” in time). So that Saul’s CAUSAL action in the (so-called) future produced an EFFECT in the past.

More on quantum entanglement in time, from a purely scientific (not religious) perspective here:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s