Thursday, May 03, 2007

practical etymology

Just over this past weekend, I checked into the biblical etymology for the words k'fitzat haderech to try to understand the essence of the concept of underlying these miraculous trips. I now believe that I have come up with a biblical proof supporting the notion that teleportation requires no miracle and perhaps may be be thus reproducible to us, non-divine hominids.

Unlike modern Hebrew, in the biblical Lashon Hakodesh, "the holy tongue", KaFaTZ, which is the root for the words k'fitza/k'fitzat does not actually mean "to jump" as I first thought it did-- it very precisely translates to "to shut quickly" or "to collapse". Both KaFaZ and KiFaTZ mean to leap, but that meaning stems from the etymological root literally describing the compression of ones' legs prior to springing forward.

Furthermore, the phonetic cognates of KaFaTZ express related concepts:

KaVeTZ - to gather
KaMaTZ - to close one's hand
GaVaSH - to condense

Let's move on to the second word: HaDerech, the root for this is DeReCH, both a verb meaning "to lead the way", and a noun meaning "path."

Now, going back to the main subject, try to imagine for a moment, a sheet of paper with two dots spaced far apart. According to the rules of Euclidean geometry, the shortest distance between those two points is a straight line.

But if we now look at the expression k'fitzat haderech, we can begin to understand the mechanism of the teleportation feat-- it involved the kefitza, or collapse of the space-time fabric of the derech, or path delineated between Points A and B. This would be analogous to taking the sheet of paper and folding it along the symmetrical axis, so that the two dots are now touching and adjoined in the space-time continuum.

There are a few other instances in which the Lord admits to messing around with the non-euclidean geometric model. The very first implication is in Noah's ark, 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high, if I remember correctly. The biblical commentators (and detractors too) point out that if two of each animal from every single specie (excluding sea life) were to be loaded in the ark, they could never physically fit into something of that size, and they conclude that the rules of space-time were bent in this instance to accommodate the entire terrestrial zoo.

The next instance occurs when Jacob goes to sleep one evening during his travel from home to Charan. Unknowingly, he sleeps on the location of the future temple mount, Har Habayit. When he lays down to sleep, the commentators mention that the Lord took the entire land of Israel, and compressed it into the space underneath him, whatever that means.

Much later on, during the time of temples, all Jews who could physically make the pilgrimage, would do so three times a year to the temple to celebrate the holidays of Pesach, Shevu'ot, and Succot. It was said that all the Jews gathered into the temple courtyard, and somehow they all fit. Furthermore, when they bowed down during prayers, each person was somehow accorded a clearance of a four-pace radius.

And for my final example, according to the lore, when the Messiah arrives, the Lord will unfold the land of Israel so that it becomes much larger than it is today.

So why did I get excited?

Its because of a well-known rule that the Lord does not operate outright miracles of the supernatural sort once he finished the creation, although this doesn't preclude cases where his direct influence can be plausibly explained away as a coincidence of natural contrivances.

Yet there is a Mishna in Pirke Avot (Chapter 5, Mishna 8) which reads:
"Ten things were created on the eve of Shabbat, at twilight. They are: The mouth of the earth; the mouth of the well; the mouth of the donkey; the rainbow; the Manna; the staff; the Shamir; the alphabet; the inscription; and the Tablets."

Those are the ten exceptions to the rule, and they were set aside from the time of creation until the later time they would be needed for supernatural divine intervention, the biblical deus ex machina.

Now since k'fizat haderech is not listed above as one of the supernatural miracles, we can thus assume that it is not a supernatural device, but one subject to a common natural mechanism, one that hopefully be realized with the help of the etymological insight into its workings.

3 comments:

Judah said...

come visit me when u figure out how to do it

Vache Folle said...

This explains how Noah got the marsupials and monotremes from Australia and the New World monkeys from the Americas without much of an adventure.

Anonymous said...

but every person has a soul (neshama) how can it be possible to send a person with his soul from a man made object?I definitely think you need a miracle!