This Week In Torah
Shabbat Ekev 5773
TORAH from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Some of us, of a “certain age,” sustain a modicum of youthful exuberance for the universe by joyously reading National Geographic when it arrives each month. That’s right: reading the physical magazine, not the website and certainly not viewing the cable TV nature documentaries with their incipit scripts and incessant interruptions. Small as it may seem – there is nothing like leafing through those glossy pages, perusing the beautiful photography and reading about the exotic places and scientific advances that the “establishment” wants brought to our attention.
This month’s cover story “Our Wild Wild Solar System” is introduced by a dramatic visualization of two celestial objects, planets or moons, colliding and scattering fiery molten and solid debris into the darkness of an as yet unformed universe. Inside (page 42) the headline pops out of a picture of earth under a heavy bombardment of flaming meteors proclaiming – “It All Began in Chaos.” The article goes on to teach that “When most of us were growing up, the solar system seemed reliable…” but now the top scientists think that our solar system, as well as all the others, came into being in a chaotic series of celestial events that continues to unfold. In other words – the universe was not always as we see it today and in spite of its apparent stability – it is not likely to remain as such.
It seems that the moons and planets are not connected by a finely tuned clockwork but, because of gravity, they impact on each other as if through springs that pull, push and pulsate in a cacophony of motion as each little change, even one as small as moving a pencil across your desk can, imperceptibly and over eons, have cosmic, results whose causes would be long lost and forgotten.
Such is the lesson of our Torah portion’s opening verse: “It will come to pass, as a result of your obedience to these laws and your observance of them…” that you will be joining with The Creator of the universe’s order – as well as its chaos – in bringing the correct forces to bear on this world and all others, even if the final, cosmic results are much too far off for us to see – even in the pages of National Geographic.
Rabbi Steve Denker