Using Scientific Discoveries to Overcome Writer’s Block


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By Yonatan Gordon

Like most (or all) good articles, there’s some self-reference involved in this piece. You see, while we wanted to write about quantum entanglement, we had no idea where to begin. It’s a useful metaphor for many things, as are many of the other new discoveries in science and physics. But people that visit Community of Readers seem to most appreciate something writing or publishing related. Therein resided the dilemma about how to connect the concept of faster-than-light travel, with the seemingly more calm waters of publishing.

It was decided to first quote a sizeable portion from an article we’ve been sitting on for about two weeks, entitled “New Quantum Insights into Life and Death of Black Holes –Confirms Einstein & Hawking”. So here goes:

Quantum mechanics shows that entanglement can exist across the event horizon, between particles inside and outside the black hole,” says Sam Braunstein. “But should this [quantum] entanglement ever vanish, a barrier of energetic particles would be created: an energetic curtain (or firewall) would descend around the horizon of the black hole. We are the first to show the necessity of entanglement across all black hole event horizons and to consider what happens as black holes age. The greater the entanglement, the later the curtain descends. But if the entanglement is maximal, the firewall never occurs. Indeed, entanglement has long been believed to exist for some types of black holes, taking on exactly this maximum value. Our work confirms and generalizes this claim.”

While the science writers among you can explain this in more detail, as we explained in our “What if Technology, Just…Vanished???” article, sometimes a person just needs to skip to the punch line. As we said there, it is much easier to provide the answer to the equation, than detail all the intermediate steps and numbers. But still, when people are waiting to hear the answer, sometimes you need to just leap to it.

Our justification for “leaping” is even more fitting as this is an article about quantum “leaping” or “entanglement.” In order to begin this article, we had to first “leap” past this personal dilemma of ours: We have this article from that we want to write about. So now … what do we say?”

In our vanishing technology article, we spoke about a student who was taking notes of his teacher’s class via a live video feed. Then suddenly, the connection got interrupted. There were two options: either the student could have stopped, or being that he had no choice but to rely on “leaping” forward, continued his note-taking as before. For the sake of argument, we’ll also assume that the teacher was some distance away, so as to provide for a viable “quantum entanglement” case study experiment.

The benefit of our article is that instead of “leaping,” we can now say that the student experienced “quantum entanglement” with the live class of his teacher (again we leave it up to the science writers to explain this in more detail). What’s perhaps even more interesting is that Sam Braunstein, and his colleague Stefano Pirandola, are proponents of a modern branch of quantum mechanics, called quantum information theory, that treats light and atoms as carriers of information. Again, this also seems to fit very well with our “live class” example.


Now that we have some background material for our discussion, we can begin once more to focus our sights on the case of a writer endeavoring to overcome writer’s block.

In Jewish thought, this is usually expressed as the sense for a spiritual reality that exists on some higher plane. The dilemma (or block) is how to relate to something above conception? The short answer is that God desired that there be in dwelling place down here, not up there in the heavenly spheres. He created this world so that we should understand and better it. But even this short answer needs explanation.

Judaism holds that indeed a connection can be established between the material and the spiritual, but the initiative starts from God. As long as we are reaching up, we can grasp only so far. But if God is “reaching down” into our world, giving us a means whereby we can relate to Him, then our material world becomes sublimated as a result.

This is how we explain the scientific ambition to search for smaller particles. Through dividing reality further, even the secular scientist begins to think in less physical terms. If particles are just “carriers of information,” then it doesn’t seem so far-fetched for even a present-day secular scientist to soon accept the prophecy of Isaiah that in the Messianic era, “The earth shall be full of knowledge of G‑d as water covers the seabed” (Isaiah 11:9).


In order to cross the seemingly insurmountable divide, the writer (or student note-taker) needs to first learn something about themselves. As long as they are someone vested with particular talents and abilities, then the potential of hitting the wall is much greater. But if they view themselves as “carriers of information” then, like the student who wanted to faithfully write down his teacher’s lesson, the writer will also be able to make similar leaps forward.

While the gap between the Creator and the created seems insurmountable, God also told us the secret for crossing the divide: “Perform my mitzvot.” The very word mitzvah (מצוה) shares a root with the word tzavsa (צותא), which means to “connect.” How does the writer overcome his block? By seeing his work as a mitzvah that benefits others. From his willingness to recognize and develop his mission in life, he is also given the opportunity to transcend the limitations of this material world. It is verily God lifting Him out of his block so that he can write about what life is like on the other side.

Perhaps the best example of this in the Torah is when God lifted Abraham “above the stars” (i.e. above the limitations of the mazalot or “cosmic cycle”), in order to appreciate how numerous his descendants will be (by counting the stars below). So too a writer may think that it’s enough to cure writer’s block by taking a walk in the park, or some other relaxing activity. While this may enable him to write, we are more interested in emulating the “out of the universe” writer.

We spoke about this type of person in our “The Search for Extraterrestrial Life: An Introduction” article. Relating this concept to the field of marketing, we said that “Part of what makes a creative marketer so successful is that he is taking inspiration from a place much more distant than his colleagues. If he behaved and operated like them, then his marketing ideas would also be similar to their.” Likewise, when we speak of overcoming “writer’s block,” we prefer to define the term in the most “distant” way.


How then does our writer overcome the most extreme case of writer’s block? A good way to envision it is with the scientific metaphor presented at the start. If the writer was a “carrier of information” particle, and they jumped into the black hole, First: Would they be able to bypass the energetic wall? and Second: Would they survive the experience?

The answer rests in our secret of the mitzvah. When the word mitzvah (lit. “command”) is used in the Torah, the implication is that the matter is imperative. In these instances, it is God taking the initiative, propelling the person (or “pulling” the person as with a Black Hole) forward toward fulfilling the task at hand.

The writer on his own initiative, no matter how creative he may be, is limited to the extent that he can jump in the air with his thoughts. But when lifted to a higher calling, the results are truly limitless. The word “mitzvah” both relates to the transcendent dimension of God, and penetrates to the inner dimension of man. This most comprehensive “binding” is something no man-inspired act can affect alone.


There are mitzvot which bring benefits that are readily appreciated, and others whose benefits we cannot comprehend. Then there are some mitzvot (like the sacrifices) that are not for man’s sake at all, not even to train him in obedience. They are for God’s sake. Thus the Torah refers to them as “lachmi,” “My sustenance,” implying that God needs this spiritual service, as it were.

When viewed in this way, a person sees himself as no more than the medium by which God’s will can be carried out; or borrowing from the terminology in the article, as a “carrier of information.”

While the complete performance of all the mitzvot will take place only in the Era of the Redemption, we can see today how even secular scientists are coming closer to this awareness. Anyone who thought that their job would be over once the Higgs-Boson was discovered, now realizes that the next level of exploration has just begun. As scientists reveal a world that seems less and less physical, our job is to take these observations to heart. To leave our sense of ego and self behind, and jump effortlessly into the vast sea of knowledge that awaits us on the other side.

But instead of the void of a black hole, appreciating the other side brings an awareness of Divine nothingness, which is everything.

Excerpted and Freely Adapted from “In the Garden of the Torah: Insights of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the weekly Torah Readings


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