I've heard that there is a concept in Judaism of time in a spiral, but I'm not sure where that idea originally comes from (specifically, which Rabbi originally said it). The earliest I've found is Rav Natan Breslov who lived from 1780-1844.

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    What does spiral (a spatial orientation) have to do with time? I don't understand what in the world you are asking about. – Double AA Feb 12 '14 at 17:13
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    @DoubleAA I think you can refer to time as spiral. Its like something between linear sense of time to an eternal return sense of time. – eliavs Feb 13 '14 at 10:38
  • @eliavs Your comment makes less sense to me then anything in the question. – Double AA Feb 13 '14 at 18:02
  • @DoubleAA, think of the word "Shanah"-"year". As a verb it means both to change and to repeat. The ancients (gentiles) had either a linear sense of time, meaning that it is an infinite continuum of moments that have no relationship to each other, except for that fact that one comes after another; or, others held that time is a loop and what has happened before will just happen again. The former held that all is by chance; the latter, that all is preordained fate. Neither addresses Mankind's role within time. – Yahu Feb 19 '14 at 6:32
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    @Yahu Hey! Nice to see you :) I can understand those two ideas. Where does spiral fit in? – Double AA Feb 19 '14 at 6:33

I beleive that Rabbi Moshe chaim Luzzatu(הרמח"ל) had a spiral concept of time.

"והנה, כיונה (החכמה העליונה) שסוף הסיבוב יהיה תמיד בקודש, ונמצא זה עילוי גדול לכל הימים, שאף על פי שרובם חול ורק חלק אחד משבע הוא הקודש, והוא מה שמצטרך לעולם הזה כמו זכרנו, אמנם מצד אחר, בהיות החלק הזה סוף הסיבוב וחיתומו, נמצא הסיבוב כולו נתקן ומתעלה"

(derech hashem)
I dont think I am realy up to translate this, but i will search for further reference to his time concept.

  • Is this Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzat or Samuel David Luzzat? – PixelArtDragon Feb 13 '14 at 15:00
  • @AvramLevitt Sorry my mistake see my edit, it is Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatu, The ramchal you can see his book on Hebrew books hebrewbooks.org/51261 – eliavs Feb 13 '14 at 16:26
  • This seems to be what I was looking for, thank you. – PixelArtDragon Feb 13 '14 at 21:55

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, Michtav M'Eliyahu, Vol. II, p. 21 says (here wrt Yom Kippur)

“We have already explained that we do not have a token celebration of the Festivals, rather we actually return to each festival’s origin in time; the very same holiness of time that influences us today is the same as when the Festivals were first commemorated. Rav Tzvi Hirsh Broide from Kelm said that time does not pass by a person; rather, a person travels through time.

For example, on the very first Shabbat there was a “station in time” that was established called Shabbat, and every week a person reaches that same station in time, with exactly the same influence of holiness as the first Shabbat. Similarly regarding the festivals: every year a person returns to the same stations in time of the respective festivals. For example, each year at Passover, a person reaches the “station” of redemption from Egypt, at which time it is possible for him to attain the spiritual energy of the revelation of freedom – for Passover is in actuality the time of our freedom.”

So it is as if we travel in a spiral and the light or influence of the original event shines through the generations and reaches us at our point on the spiral.

Also see here where it says,

Rabbi Dessler described time as a spiral. As we travel through time we return to key moments of the past and recapture the inherent spiritual energy. This is why Jewish holidays are referred to in Hebrew as moadim (meeting places). Similarly, the Hebrew word zman (time) means designated or appointed because every moment in time has been appointed with a specific spiritual purpose.

(I answered your question before your edit. Rav Broide became the head of Yeshivas Kelm in 1903, so it seems that Rav Natan Breslov predates him.)

  • I haven't read the Michtav M'Eliyahu inside, so maybe it is more clear there, but isn't he describing a circle, and not a spiral? – Menachem Feb 13 '14 at 7:39
  • @Menachem Read it at nleresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Yom-Kippur-.doc‎ It is source 4. – Avrohom Yitzchok Feb 13 '14 at 9:34

in the michtav mieliyohu he writes אין הזמן עובר על האדם אלא האדם נוסע בתוך הזמן

which is exactly what you are reffering to, but the less learned of our readers won't understand this without further elaboration.

  • I was elaborating as you wrote your answer. – Avrohom Yitzchok Feb 12 '14 at 22:43
  • ברוך שכיוונתי!! – rabbi Feb 12 '14 at 22:55

BSD I read it in an article by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz a sefer that I cant remember.But it could be he was just expounding on another source. Found this link online http://arthurkurzweil.com/time-is-like-a-spiral-or-a-helix-rising-up-from-creation/2229

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