Written by Rabbi Shimon Silman
“China has declared a cold war against America…The next battles that we’re going to have…aren’t going to be about bombs and bullets and planes and ships and tanks. It’s about artificial intelligence. It’s about machine learning. It’s about autonomous vehicles. It’s about semiconductors, and the first battle is on 5G. They control 5G…This is about the future of America.” (Daniel Goldin, former director of NASA on 5/18/20)
Sounds scary, right? Wrong! If you want to know what scary is, “Ask your father and he will tell you…” (Devorim 32:7) Not so long ago, before the Swords into Plowshares declaration of 1992, “the next war” would have meant a global nuclear war with Russia—to which we came very close a few times, sometimes by accident and sometimes by open threat.
If your father is too young to remember, try the second half of the verse, “…your elders and they will say it to you.” If they are old enough they will remember actually practicing for a nuclear attack—the periodic air raid sirens, school children taught to hide under their desks in case of an attack (not that it would have helped any), and the “fallout shelters” in every neighborhood stocked with food, water etc. where everyone would run to hide in case of a nuclear attack, where the walls were lined with lead to protect them from the nuclear radiation (“fallout”).
As the song from the 1970s goes:
“And you, of tender years
Can’t know the fears
That your parents grew by”
America had just come out of World War II where they lost hundreds of thousands of soldiers fighting the evil Nazi Empire that was aspiring to world domination, and now there was another evil empire—this time with nuclear weapons—the communist Soviet Union, that was aspiring to world domination, threatening the U.S. in particular. No, this was not paranoia—it was real. I was there.
SIP – Phase II
I was there…so you can’t scare me with “autonomous vehicles” and certainly not with 5G. Actually, I’m very happy that these are the next battles. Let me explain.
The prophecy of Isaiah regarding Swords into Plowshares, he says:
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not raise a sword against nation
nor shall they learn any more war
At first glance, something may seem out of place. It seems that first it should say:
nation shall not raise a sword against nation
nor shall they learn any more war
Then, since there is no more war, they don’t need their weapons any more, so then comes:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
But it’s in the opposite order. My understanding is that the prophet is saying that this will happen in stages. First (SIP – Phase I), they shall beat their swords into plowshares—even before all wars have ceased—because there is a new moral awareness that there should be no more war, that war should no longer be used as a “tool of diplomacy,” that they should settle their differences peacefully and work together for their mutual benefit. This is what happened in 1992. The nations feel much less threatened by each other, so they don’t need vast military resources and decide to transform them to peaceful uses—swords into plowshares.
But there still may be wars in the world, especially wars involving nations that have not yet signed on to this new program. They are not yet so morally advanced. Some may even be terrorist states (like Iran) or non-state terrorist organizations. Meanwhile, the more advanced ones, who may develop rivalries with other nations, realize that that they can’t express their rivalry militarily anymore—they can’t use “bombs and bullets and planes and ships and tanks”—and look for alternate methods of warfare: cyberwarfare, trade wars, information wars etc. They learn other methods of warfare…
Then comes a second phase (SIP – Phase II) where all wars cease—”nation shall not raise a sword against nation”—but they still learn war and look for new ways to express their rivalry. (If I may push the metaphor, I think “learning war” alludes (also) to warfare that involves learning and intellectual activity such as devising computer software to hack into your rival’s computer systems.) I call them rivals and not enemies because they may still be competing for power and domination, but they are no longer fighting with each other.
Finally (SIP – Phase III), in the last phase, there is no more rivalry so they cease all cyberwarfare, trade wars etc.—“nor shall they learn any more war.” This happens when Melech HaMoshiach is completely revealed and gives instruction to the nations on how to act, and they come to him to resolve all their issues. As Isaiah says in that prophecy,
And many nations shall go [to confer with each other]
and they shall say one to another,
“Let’s go up to the mountain of G-d
to the house of the G-d of Yakov
and [Melech HaMoshiach] will teach us of G-d’s ways
and we will follow His paths…
And he will judge between the nations
and admonish many peoples,
Rambam describes this era in the very last Halacha of his Mishneh Torah:
“At that time there will be no famine or war, no jealousy or rivalry since there will be abundant good and all the delicacies will be as plentiful as the dust of the earth. The only occupation of the entire world will be to know G-d…”
Fight COVID, Not Each Other
This brings me to talk about our Moshiach & science conference last month on 13 Iyar, the yartzeit of Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Schneerson ז”ל, the Rebbe MHM’s youngest brother. The Rebbe MHM’s הסכמה וברכה (in Adar, 5753) to make these conferences has kept them—and ourselves—going for almost three decades strong.
This year, however, it looked like we would not be able to make a conference because the whole world was shut down. For the past ten years or so, we have been making them is Israel. But after conferring with my colleague in Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Dubnick of Beer Sheva, about any possibilities where we could make the conference, we realized that there were no possibilities and that we probably wouldn’t be able to do it this year. But then, as I like to say, “we saw that we couldn’t do it anywhere, so we decided to do it everywhere” on Zoom. We broke new ground and we now have a tool that we can use in conjunction with live conferences in the future בע”ה.
Rabbis and scientists from all over the world presented their pre-recorded lectures on a live zoom meeting which I ran from 770. The theme of the conference was Fight COVID, not each other. This was partly a play on the word “covid” which sounds like the Hebrew word כבוד. In the time of Rabbi Akiva there was a plague among his students during the days of Sefiras HaOmer because, as the Talmud says: לא נהגו כבוד זה בזה (they didn’t have proper respect for each other). In our time, we also experienced a covid plague during those days. Hence the message: Have respect for each other. Don’t fight each other; fight the COVID. [Actually, COVID is not a word; it’s an acronym for COrona VIrus Disease]
But there’s more to it than that. “Fight COVID, not each other” was actually the content of a plea made by the Secretary General of the United Nations on March 23 to the nations of the world:
“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives…To warring parties: Pull back from hostilities. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.”
When I heard this I got very excited: Is this Swords into Plowshares – Phase II? I asked myself. SIP – Phase I was initiated by a declaration of the heads of state of all 15 members of the Security Council, but maybe a call from the Secretary General is good enough for the transition to Phase II. Also, this was a call to all the nations of the world, not just the 15 on the Security Council. Some conflicts actually ceased in response to his call. What if all nations of the world would stop fighting now? We hope this will be Phase II transitioning to the complete Geulah immediately!
So this became the main theme of our conference…
Fight COVID—with Your Armies
I opened the conference with a brief overview of the background of the RYAL Institute and our conferences and the life of Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Schneerson, the namesake of the Institute whose yartzeit we were observing that day.
Throughout the proceedings, we repeatedly mentioned the name of Professor Branover— ירמיהו בן דבורה שי’ for a complete recovery
Prof. Branover was a pioneer in Torah & science research, a mashpia and colleague to many of us, and a Chosid who has done so much for the worldwide Jewish community especially Russian Jews. He also spoke at several of our conferences. He is now suffering from a neurological disease ר”ל.
This was followed by a Shiur in the daily chapter of Rambam, according to the Rambam learning schedule, by Rabbi Levi Silman of Cape Town, South Africa.
Then one of our regular lecturers came on— Rabbi Avishay Ifargon, a former military intelligence officer with the IDF. He is an expert on Middle Eastern affairs and demilitarization.
He made it clear at the outset that he could only talk about non-classified information. His thesis was that we could see from world events that the world in moving closer to the complete Geulah. He began by reviewing the chronology of events since the Rebbe MHM first announced הגיע זמן גאולתכם—”the time of your Redemption has arrived,” the Persian Gulf War, the Swords into Plowshares declaration, arms reduction treaties and their implementations, and demilitarization in general.
He pointed out that currently there are no wars between states; all military actions now are against non-state actors such as terrorist groups, insurgencies etc. He also spoke about the change in the attitude of the Arab world toward Israel. More Arab countries now have diplomatic relations with Israel and are no longer plotting Israel’s destruction. They are interested in Israel’s strength and security—relying on them to protect the region from Iran!
A most interesting development has occurred now in the face of the COVID pandemic: Some nations are redirecting their armies and military resources toward activities to fight the virus and protect their population. This is especially so in Israel where soldiers have been deployed to bring food and medicine to people—especially the sick and elderly—who are confined to their homes due to the virus.
Dr. Amir Mussery, an Israeli geologist, gave a thorough explanation of viruses and how they work and suggested several spiritual reasons, based on Biblical and Talmudic sources, why a plague may occur ר”ל.
A Flood of Knowledge
A major theme in all our conferences is “unifying theories in physics.” In fact, our interest in unifying theories is the very foundation of the RYAL Institute because of the role it plays in preparing the world for Moshiach, as explained in the famous sicha of the Rebbe MHM which discusses a prediction in the Zohar:
The Zohar is commenting on the flood in the time of Noach. The Torah says that in the 600th year of the life of Noach, the windows of heaven opened up and water came down; the fountains deep inside the earth broke open and water came up from below. It was the flood. Similarly, the Zohar continues, in the 600th year of the 6th millennium (on the Jewish calendar; 1840 on the secular calendar) the windows of heaven will open and wisdom will come down from above; the fountains of wisdom from below will break open and wisdom will come from below. It will be a flood of knowledge that prepares the world for Moshiach.
In this famous sicha, the Rebbe MHM asks what are these two wisdoms that prepare the world for Moshiach? He explains that the wisdom from above refers to the teachings of Chassidus published around that time that is essentially an introduction to the new depth in the Torah that will be revealed by Moshiach. The wisdom from below refers to modern scientific discoveries and theories that prepare the world for Moshiach—in three different ways:
- Modern technology facilitates the spreading and teaching of Torah in ways never before imaginable; radio, TV, satellite communications, internet…Zoom!
- The existence of this technology can make real for us Torah concepts that previously we had to accept on faith. Example: The Mishneh in Pirkei Avos says: “Be aware that there is always an eye (of G-d) watching you, an ear listening and everything you do is being recorded in a book.” OK, I believe it. But now I know Because now I know that even as I walk down a deserted street in the middle of the night, there may be 5 security cameras recording everything that I do or say, and there may be people on the other side of the world watching me live as I do it (if they care…)
- Modern scientific theories show a wondrous unity in the physical world—how everything is composed of just a few basic particles and there are just a few basic forces acting on them. This awareness of unity in the physical world prepare us for the revelation of the absolute unity of G-d which will be revealed in the Era of Moshiach.
Dr. Aryeh Gotfryd, an environmental scientist from Toronto, has been part of the RYAL Institute and its projects since our early years (the 1990s). He gave an in-depth explanation of the “Moshiach and science” concept. In the follow-up to this, he spoke about experiments that have shown that activities like prayer, positive thought etc. can affect physical reality—even retroactively. They can change the past!
Einstein was known for a lot of scientific accomplishments. But what was to be the crowning glory of his achievements—his Unified Field Theory—failed. This was to be a grand unification theory showing the kind of unity in the physical world that we just spoke of, and he spent the last years of his life pushing it, but he didn’t make it. For a few decades after his death in 1955, most physicists didn’t dare to even attempt to work on something that the great Einstein failed at, and the search for a Grand Unification Theory (GUT) fell by the wayside. In short, no scientist had the GUTs to go for it. But in the 1980s interest was reignited and theories such as String Theory showing great promise were proposed.
The Rebbe MHM mentioned in the sicha quoted above that the final unification theory will be based on one concept of particle and one concept of force.
The next speaker at our conference, Dr. Yonatan Bentwich, who can only be described as a creative genius, spoke of the unification theory that he developed called Computational Unified Field Theory (CUFT) which is based on the concept of “continuous creation” that the Alter Rebbe speaks of in Tanya (Sha’ar HaYichud V’HaEmunah). The Alter Rebbe explains that the universe is re-created at every moment by Hashem. In the language of CUFT, Dr. Bentwich explains that the universe is essentially re-computed at every moment.
At the outset, Dr. Bentwich mentioned that the Rebbe MHM once wrote in a letter to Professor Velvel Green ע”ה that the ultimate unification theory will necessarily include the awareness of G-d, the Creator.
Another unifying concept—under the title אחדות הכל—was presented by Yakov Guggenheim, an engineer from Rehovot, Israel, based on the theories of the physicist (and musician) Joel Sternheimer. The theory is intimately related to music (ever hear of protein-music?). It would take too long to present Guggenheim’s brilliant lecture here, so the reader is urged to watch the video—as well as the videos of all the lectures—on our website. Click here.
Mission: The Moon
Last year an Israeli company, SpaceIL, sent a spacecraft to the moon. Even though it didn’t land on the moon, it orbited the moon, which has only been done a few times before. It was a great accomplishment for a small country. But we knew that it had some connection to the Era of Moshiach so we asked Ariel Gomez, an engineer at SpaceIL to speak at our conference last year to tell us more about it. He gave us a very informative and inspiring presentation on the moon mission.
We asked him to come back again this year. Last year he spoke about the mission to the moon; this year the moon itself was the mission. The Jewish calendar and all the Jewish holidays are based on the appearance of the new moon—Rosh Chodesh. Ariel gave a very clear presentation on the orbits of the sun and the moon and the various ways that the moon appears to us throughout the lunar month using video simulations.
A Man with Energy
As I near the conclusion of my exposition, I feel that I must tell you a story. Several year ago, as I was starting to plan the Moshiach and science conference (we were making the conferences in Israel in those years), I wrote a letter to the Rebbe MHM asking for a Bracha on the conference and if we should make it in Israel. In the answer in Igros Kodesh the Rebbe MHM (writing about a certain proposed project) said to do it only if there is an איש בעל מרץ—a man with intense energy—who will work on the details. Well, we have been blessed to have such a man. This man is Rabbi Shlomo Dubnick of Beer Sheva, the man behind the scenes. Every year he works tirelessly and energetically to make sure everything is in order—the speakers are lined up, a hall is reserved and the expenses are covered, not to mention advertising. We wish him and his family all the Brachos—including even more energy.
From the Bottom Up
This Shabbos is 28 Sivan, the day that the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach and Rebbitzen Chaya Mushka came to America. In many sichos, the Rebbe MHM emphasized that the significance of his coming to America is the it is the bottom half of the globe, and the world has to be elevated from the bottom—when you elevate the bottom, the entire structure rises.
The same thing applies to the world of intellect. In the upside down secular world, science, especially mathematics, is considered the highest intellectual endeavor. But when we look at the full picture, from the highest spiritual to the “down to earth” we see that science etc. is on the bottom. But for that very reason, it is from the elevation of the sciences that we attain the most wondrous aspects of the Geulah—פלא שבגאולה (sicha of Emor, 5751).
We at the Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Institute are doing this and we ask for the Rebbe MHM’s Brachos that we do this correctly and successfully and do our part in bringing about the complete revelation of the Rebbe MHM and see him complete the Geulah—immediately, NOW!