Imagine if you could turn your very worst liabilities into your most precious assets. Nice dream, isn't it?

Well, as it turns out, this is no wistful fancy but a daily reality, according to both cutting edge science and state-of-the-art religion, i.e., Judaism.

To explain, let's peer into the subatomic world of the quantum and explore an amazing property of nature, a weird, almost quirky kind of fact: Wave-particle duality.

The idea is that things are what you choose them to be, literally. For example, when photons pass through a barrier with two slits, you can choose to observe them as waves, in which case they necessarily went through both slits, or as particles, in which case they went through only one. You determine the reality.

But it gets even stranger. An implication of this "observer power" is that once you choose to see the photon as a wave, it was a wave all the way back to when it was emitted. Similarly if you choose to observe it as a particle, it was a particle not only at the time of observation, but retroactively all the way back to its origin.

"Whoa!" says the logical brain. "How can it be that an observation I make now is changing things earlier? It makes no sense. There must be some mistake here."

But there is no mistake. In 1978, physicist John Wheeler concocted a thought experiment to test this time-travel effect observers have on quantum systems, and lo-and-behold by 1984 it was proven in the lab and replicated dozens of times since. Today there is no doubt about it. Observer choices made now determine the history of quanta in the past, whether it's nanoseconds, minutes, or millennia ago.

We recreate all of history and even pre-history just by opening our eyes in the morning! And it's not just a matter of proton here and a neutron there. The entire cosmos is made of this stuff, so it turns out that any observations and all observations share this remarkable property. We recreate all of history and even pre-history just by opening our eyes in the morning!

In Judaic terms it's not all that strange. Jews celebrate the renewal of the universe every day in their morning prayers, which speaks of the Creator's "daily, constant renewal of the work of Creation." And all of that is because of us, as the Talmud states that "every individual is obliged to say: For my sake was the world created."

But this whole retroactive reality business has an even a deeper spiritual significance. It refers to the power of teshuvah, "repentance," more accurately translated "return" or "restoration."

We all have some fixing up to do in preparation for the New Year. But in this there are different levels. There's a basic kind of restoration that rights a wrong, repays a debt, gets us back to level ground. But then there's another, higher mode of teshuvah, where negatives get transformed to positives. A teshuvah where errors become assets, where even intentional sins become merits. Where darkness is transformed to light.

And here's where photons can illuminate our spiritual life as well. By choosing to return in the best possible way, we demonstrate to our Creator that we are in tune with the possibility of reinventing ourselves, of transcending sustainability, surpassing even tikkun olam, achieving a perfection within ourselves and the world.