We live in an era when it seems that our range is unsurpassed. We can gaze into the farthest reaches of outer space, the depths of the ocean and deep within the earth. We can peer into a living cell, and we have the technology to observe, measure and manipulate matter on the molecular or atomic level. Yet despite our advanced sophistication, so much of reality remains outside our grasp. We still have difficulty predicting things like a stock market crash, the course of a disease or the timing and location of an earthquake.
The fact is that despite our gleaming equipment and advanced science, our senses are woefully limited in what they can perceive. With the naked eye, we cannot see anything smaller than a grain of sand, or larger than a mountain. We can't see atoms or viruses, or far-off planets and galaxies. We can infer their existence based on our scientific tools, but those perceptions are bound to be tainted by artifact and interpretation. Our ability to sense movement and change is also limited. We cannot discern the slow flow of glaciers, or the movement of any object faster than the speed of light.
Our sense of time is likewise pitiful: According to psychologic studies, our "present moment" is limited to three seconds. Our memories extend only as far as the typical human lifespan of 80 or so years--and most of those memories are jumbled and unclear.
Because of our severe sensory limitations, we rely a great deal on inference and interpretation. We can reconstruct the past based on evidence that we find in the present, but those reconstructions will consist of healthy doses of imagination, conjecture and assumption.
All these limitations derive from the fact that we are created beings. Since we are within creation, we do not have the vantage point to observe the totality of creation itself. The scientific "view from nowhere" is actually a myth. It is impossible for a human being, or any creation, to take a truly objective position.
Our human limitations are referred to in the teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut as Meitzarim--boundaries. However, just as the Jewish people eventually left Egypt (Mitzrayim), we, too, will eventually be released from our human boundaries and limitations. G-d placed us into this circumscribed world, with all its physical and spiritual restraints, in order that we should leave strengthened and enlightened by the experience. The experience of being compressed leads us to reach deep within ourselves to discover our latent strengths. These strengths allow us to overcome our inner and outer limitations, to express ourselves on an essential level.
This expansion of our essence is a perfect description of the ultimate Redemption. It is very near, and the outpouring of revelations, both in the scientific and spiritual domains, are but a foretaste of the revelations we will experience in the era of Moshiach.
Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.