The Rebbe’s Opinion On: What Atomic Energy Teaches Us



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    The Rebbe’s Opinion On: What Atomic Energy Teaches Us

    Chabadinfo in collaboration with Beis Moshiach Magazine presents: The Rebbe’s Opinion On, a series featuring the Rebbe’s opinion and directive on various subjects In the world after the atomic explosion over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many people were disturbed by the destructive power in these weapons. On several occasions, the Rebbe derived very fundamental lessons in Avodas Hashem from this technological and scientific development • Full Article

    In the world after the atomic explosion over Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought the Second World War to an end, many people were disturbed by the tremendous destructive power in these weapons. On several occasions, the Rebbe derived very fundamental lessons in Avodas Hashem from this technological and scientific development:

    Quality Vs. Quantity

    The question arises: Since “you are the smallest of all the nations” — and not only of all the nations, but also within Jewry and within every Jew, spiritual concerns are dwarfed by material concerns — what is the point of battling for the loving and punctilious observance of the Torah and its mitzvos, when in the final analysis they remain a minority?

    The answer to this question is provided by a recent scientific discovery relating to the atom.

    In earlier times it was commonly thought that quantity was finite, and quality was proportionate to the finite limits of quantity. Accordingly, to secure a prodigious result one would require an extreme quantity of matter.

    In recent years, however, scientists have discovered that quantity is not the determining factor: there is no need for extreme quantity. Rather, the major concern is to unlock all the quality that is to be found in the quantity, to reveal and manifest the energy that is latent in the quantity — and then even a minuscule quantity can produce prodigious results.

    In brief: it was discovered that splitting the atom into minute particles can produce sufficient energy to produce results that were formerly held to require an extremely great quantity of matter.

    Beis Moshiach

    That is to say, the determinant is not the quantity of matter in question, but the exhaustive utilization of the quality to be found in even the minutest quantity of matter. Moreover, this utilization is made possible by splitting that matter into particles that are even minuter. This division divests the matter of its initial identity — of its ego, so to speak — and that is what enables a minuscule quantity of matter to accomplish great things.

    True, because this discovery was made in one of the extraneous disciplines that stem from the unholy “side” of the universe, it was first used for annihilation and destruction; in the course of time, however, it will no doubt be applied to beneficial construction.

    At any rate, one can already derive a lesson from the above: One should not be overawed by the fact that “you are the smallest of all the nations,” because once one discovers the power that is hidden in that seeming smallness — that is, the power of self-sacrifice, meaning the nullification of one’s ego, like the splitting of the atom — the minutest quantity, in fact one single atom, can transform an entire city and conquer an entire world.

    (Sicha of Purim 5711, reprinted from  Proceeding Together Vol. 4)

    The Lesson From Atomic Fission

    This letter was written on 8 Tishrei, 5709 (1948) by the Rebbe to be translated into English and sent to Mr. Julius Stulman, one of the primary supporters of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch in its early history.

    …To further develop the excellent analogy that you mentioned in your letter: an atom bomb and the tremendous energy that is released in this manner. You are no doubt aware that in this context, many of the fundamental questions that stood before the scientists revolved around [a particular concept,] a chain process, and the success of the entire project depended on the solution they devised [concerning it].

    a) [In] a chain process, the desired result will be reached by a machine creating fission within certain elements of the atom that will lead to the fission of other atoms which in turn will lead to the fission of other atoms. And in this way, the energy will continue to increase.

    b) In an undesirable situation, it will be possible to arrange that the number of atoms affected by fission will continually decrease.

    c) The cost (both in energy and in finances) in bringing about the fission of the atom will be less than the profit brought about by the energy released by the fission. [This is of fundamental importance,] because the ultimate purpose of all the experiments and all the work in this field was not intended to be merely theoretical, but instead, for [the knowledge to] be applied in actual life [situations] and in this way, make our lives better and more refined.

    The analogue to the above certainly does not require explanation to a person such as yourself.

    (Reprinted from I Will Write It In Their Hearts, Vol. 4 letter #406)

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