[Avodah] Quantum of Halachic Time

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Tue Jan 23 12:27:41 PST 2024

On Mon, Jan 22, 2024 at 10:13:41PM +0200, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
>> Assuming people walk in shul at the same speed they walk
>> to get places.
> Thank you! If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that people
> might NOT walk 4 amos at the same speed as they walk a whole mil, so the
> time it takes to walk those 4 amos might NOT be 1/500 of the time it takes
> to walk a mil.

Particularly since the time it takes to walk 4 amos appears most often
in the context of davening -- eg, the pause between entering shul and
davening, or minimum time before taking 3 steps back after Shemoneh Esrei.

So, when I said "in shul", I meant specifically how people walk 4 amos
in shul, or another formal setting.

Similarly, "Shalom Eilekha Rebbe [uMori]" would normally take less than
3-1/3 sec to say. But, if one treated one's rebbe with proper kavod,
and were treating greating him as a formal statement...

Therefore, the speed difference I was focusing on was not about distance,
but about different social settings -- walking in general vs walking
in a maqom qadosh. Which makes RAM's speculation more of a tangent. But
it's interesting none-the-less.

> This brings us to a very fundamental question about the very definition of
> "the time it takes to walk one mil". Yes, I do realize that I am changing
> the subject, because we had previously been talking about four amos, but if
> you can't trust the "one mil" calculation then there's no way to translate
> it into shorter distances.

To take a more extreme parallel case:
This is like the difference between sprinters and marathon runners. You
expect very different average speeds in the two kinds of races.

> In some systems of measurement, time and distance are interchangeable. For
> example, one unit of Planck time is how long it takes light to travel one
> Planck length. Similarly, keday hiluch mil is, *by* *definition*, the time
> it takes an average person to walk one mil.

Maybe: the time it takes an average person to walk one mil during a one-day

(Like saying: the time it takes a marathon runner to run a mile, averaged
over the 26.2188 mi run.)

> My guess is that the bottom line might be: How much precision did Chazal
> expect from us in these things?

The pet theory originally under discussion is that "the time it takes to
walk 4 amos", presumably in shul, is like using "one mississippi" to count
a second. (And tokh kedei dibbur all the more so.) Not precise, just practical.

But here, it's not practical. No one would "just" walk a mil at what they hope
is typical speed to estimate 18 to 24 min.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Take time,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   be exact,
Author: Widen Your Tent      unclutter the mind.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF          - Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, Alter of Kelm

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