Title: A Day Is A Thousand Years
Author: Dr. Zvi Faier
Publisher: Chaim Mazo
Sadly, Dr. Zvi Faier, the gifted Torah scholar, theoretical physicist and poet, passed away in 2009, on the 10th of Tevet 5769, after a long illness borne with dignity and courage. There recently appeared the first of two posthumously published works that show the amazing breadth of his knowledge, insights and interests.
A Day Is a Thousand Years, published by Chaim Mazo, and with a moving and very perceptive preface by his daughter Tziporah Lifshitz, is notable not only for its being a unique exposition of major Judaic concepts related to the destiny of the Jewish people and their interplay with the rest of mankind throughout history and until today, but also for its rich language and beautiful flowing style and imagery combining prose and verse.
The salient facts of Zvi Faier’s life offer clues to the amazing breadth of knowledge, insight and language reflected in this work. Born in 1934 in the town of Hrubieszow in southern Poland, his childhood was spent in southern Russia where the family had fled to escape the Nazis. In 1948, the family emigrated to Canada where Zvi received a yeshiva education. In 1965, he completed his doctoral studies and was awarded a Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1965 at Northwestern University in Chicago. Here he met his wife Chaya, and also his mentor Rabbi Chaim Halevi Zimmerman, the head rabbinical scholar at the Hebrew Theological College. He embarked on a scientific career, first as research physicist at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, then as a member of the physics faculty at St. John’s College New York. At the same time, he taught at Touro College and edited INTERCOM, the journal of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists.
After making aliyah in 1973, he continued his Talmudic studies with Rabbi Zimmerman at the Harry Fischel Institute, where he received rabbinic ordination in 1976. In 1977 he embarked on a career of translating such classic works of Jewish exegesis as the Malbim commentary, Meam Loez, and the Daat Sofrim commentary, and in 1979 he published his first original work, Burnt Offering: a Return to the Physical and Intellectual Jerusalem, co-authored with Dr. Haim Sokolik.
In his teaching and research, Dr. Faier focused on clarifying and applying the conceptual links between modern scientific methods and results and fundamental teachings of Judaism, and developing a scientific analysis of Talmudic sources. His aim was to generate an integrated understanding of Torah, man and the scientific universe.
The book is characterized by great intellectual scope and freedom and a profound striving for true understanding. Whereas it is an impassioned hymn of praise to the G-d of Israel and the Torah, this work is also a plea, directed to reinforcing the sublime in the hearts of all men. The author felt deeply that his ideas have relevance not only for Jews, but for all men and women around the world who cherish and seek truth, compassion and beauty.”
In his prologue, the author describes a huge parchment covering the earth just above the atmosphere. On the outer side, facing the sun, are inscribed three lines:
“That honor may dwell in our land
“Kindness and truth have met
“Justice and peace have kissed” (Psalms 85:11).
On the inner side was the legend:
“The price of honey
“And the price of light
“Are now beyond my means
“Said the victim
“To the slayer
“Said the slayer
“To the victim.”
The inscription persisted as the parchment unrolled into the future. Sometimes the writing showed more clearly on the side facing the light, and sometimes on the other side facing lands of darkness… Then it came to pass that the sons of man forgot they spoke in different tongues and nations everywhere touched. Both sides of the parchment now read:
“Kindness and truth have met
“Justice and peace have kissed.”
But it took a thousand years when it could have taken a day. Along the edge of the parchment, between the inner and outer sides, it said:
“For a thousand years in Your sight
“Are as yesterday
“As a watch in the night (based on Malbim reading of Psalm 90:4)