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How Time's Arrow and the Phrygian Half-Step Make Jewish Music Holy.

In his 1944 essay The Halakhic Mind, Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik makes a striking assertion about the directionality of time:

The reversibility of time and of the causal order is fundamental in religion, for otherwise the principle of conversion would be sheer nonsense. The act of reconstructing past psychical life, of changing the arrow of time from a forward to a retrospective direction, is the main premise of penitence. One must admit with Kierkegaard that repetition is a basic religious category. The homo religiosus, oscillating between sin and remorse, flight from and return to God, frequently explores not only the traces of a bygone past retained in memory, but a living "past" which is consummated in his emergent time-consciousness. It is irrelevant whether reversibility is a transcendental act bordering on the miraculous, as Kierkegaard wants us to believe, or a natural phenomenon that has its roots in the unique structure of the religious act. The paradox of a directed yet reversible time concept remains.

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Author:Goldman, David P.
Publication:Tablet Magazine
Date:Sep 29, 2014
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