Scientists recently hailed the first ever image of a black hole in Messier 87, a galaxy 55 million light years away from earth. What does the Torah say about science and demystifying the universe?
The Torah begins by recording how the heavenly bodies were set into motion to populate and illuminate the skies of our planetary system over the first four days of creation.
The cosmos is featured as a matter of wonderment to Isaiah, who asks of us to “raise our eyes high above and see who created these? He who brings them out in their number and calls to each one by its name.”
Thus, Isaiah tells us that there is
a personal connection the Creator has with each one of the heavenly bodies.
On earth, primaeval man, Adam, called each of the species by a name unique to it. If we follow both our ancient ancestor and God Himself, then demystifying life on earth and in the cosmos beyond is all part of what helps us
understand the relationship God has with all his creation.
In this way, we can fulfil the mitzvah of “knowing God”, alternatively rendered “to love God”.
Indeed, Maimonides points out that this is the first commandment of faith, implied in the second verse of the Shema.
Maimonides instructs that without knowledge of the natural sciences,
one cannot hope to truly appreciate
The significance of black holes is that they suck in and recycle material
In Jewish tradition, darkness is not a lack of light, but a positive creation.
It may at first appear destructive and bad, hence Isaiah states: “He forms light and creates evil.”
However, our prayer books reword Isaiah to read: “He forms light and creates darkness.”
Demystifying the universe binds us to the Creator and his wondrous works.
- Rabbi Abel serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is padre to HM Armed Forces