The gemarah discusses a story where Moshe is taken to see the lecture hall of Rebbi Akiva and the midrash discusses God showing Adam ensuing generations and their scholars. I would like to know if there any examples of backward time travel, where someone living at a later chronological date is shown or taken to an earlier time.

  • 1
    When you say "shown or taken to", do you mean something more than "told about or taken to"? Otherwise, there are many times when later people have been told about earlier people. By that I mean - to answer this question properly, by what criterion should one judge a midrash as backward time travel and not recounting?
    – WAF
    Oct 28, 2016 at 20:13
  • Re Adam, are you referring to the g'mara about his ability to see "from one end to the other"? sefaria.org/Chagigah.12a?lang=bi
    – WAF
    Oct 28, 2016 at 20:18
  • @WAF I mean visually shown either by causing the scene to appear in front of him (a la Yaakov seeing Shimshon, thinking he was Moshiach and then seeing him die, all in a vision) or by taking the person into the scene as with Moshe and Rebbi Akiva's classroom. The Adam reference is from Avoda Zara 5a (see also books.google.com/…) Oct 28, 2016 at 20:33
  • Wouldn't it be unnecessary?
    – user6591
    Oct 30, 2016 at 15:31

2 Answers 2



תענית כה א

רבי אלעזר בן פדת דחיקא ליה מילתא טובא עבד מלתא ולא הוה ליה מידי למטעם...חלש לביה ונים אזול רבנן לשיולי ביה חזיוהו דקא בכי וחייך ונפק צוציתא דנורא מאפותיה כי אתער אמרו ליה מ''ט קבכית וחייכת אמר להו דהוה יתיב עמי הקב''ה ואמרי ליה עד מתי אצטער בהאי עלמא ואמר לי אלעזר בני ניחא לך דאפכיה לעלמא מרישא אפשר דמתילדת בשעתא דמזוני אמרי לקמיה כולי האי ואפשר אמרי ליה דחיי טפי או דחיינא א''ל דחיית אמרי לקמיה א''כ לא בעינא...

Taanit 25a

R' Elazar Ben Pedat was very poor, he went through blood-letting and had nothing to eat...he felt weak and fell asleep.
The Rabbies came to ask him questions, and saw him laughing, crying and then a flare of fire came out of his forehead.
When he woke up they asked him - why did you cried and laughed?
He answered, God sat with me, and I asked him, until when I will suffer in this world?
He replied: Elazar my son, do you want me to reverse the world to it's beginning? maybe you will be born in time of prosper.
I said: just maybe?! Did I past half of my life time? He said: you did.
I said: If so, I don't want...


Not an example of backward time travel in the sense of someone at a later date being taken back to an earlier time, but the Sefas Emes (Purim 5637) writes that the salvation of the Jews was through Vashti's removal at Achashverosh's feast, even though the punishment of Haman was a result of the Jews eating from Achashverosh's feast. This is because God knew that the Jews would repent through love (teshuvah me-ahavah), and therefore, their sins would become merits. Thus, although it was a sin for them at the time that they partook of the feast, in retrospect it was a merit and in fact the source of their salvation.

Also not an exact match, but according to the Maharam Chalavah and a number of other sources, we recite a bracha on the miracle of leaving Egypt, even though the bracha recited on a miracle extends only two generations, because on the night of the Seder it is considered as if we ourselves left Egypt. This might also be the reason for Hallel at the Seder, which seems not to be the ordinary Hallel of Yom Tov, but Hallel on a miracle, which we can recite because "we ourselves left Egypt." Thus, the halachah that we are to see ourselves as having left Egypt has practical ramifications in other realms and may be considered a communal obligation to engage in (metaphorical) time travel.

  • 1
    So...this doesn’t actually answer the question then?
    – DonielF
    Oct 3, 2019 at 22:13
  • @DonielF What did you expect? Hehe.
    – Jonathan
    Oct 4, 2019 at 1:55
  • 2
    @Jonathan An answer which actually has someone literally going back in time, like the OP asked for.
    – DonielF
    Oct 4, 2019 at 1:55
  • I don't think one exists. I know that the Talmud talks about people going forward but never backwards.
    – Jonathan
    Oct 4, 2019 at 1:56
  • Is there any reason why the Sefat Emet adds anything beyond גדולה תשובה שזדונות נעשות כזכויות or why the Maharam Chalava application adds anything beyond חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים? These are just applications of the Mishna and Talmud (not to say that the Mishna and Talmud themselves aren't time travel)
    – b a
    Oct 6, 2019 at 9:16

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