Cover of 'Intergalactic Judaism' by Rabbi David Lister

Intergalactic Judaism by Rabbi David Lister

Introduction

Astronomy and the space age have irrevocably changed our perspective of our place in the universe. A thousand years ago, many people believed that we lived on a flat Earth in a small, geocentric universe. Since then, we have found that the Earth is a tiny speck in a huge cosmos containing wondrous phenomena and structures.

In addition, scientists have probed the structure of the atom, discovering the surreal properties of subatomic particles and transforming our understanding of the nature of physical reality itself.

Is there a place for this cutting-edge science within Judaism?

Since God is omniscient – the ultimate Scientist – we should not consider modern discoveries as alien to His Torah. Facts that would only be discovered by humans thirty or forty centuries later were known to God when He spoke through the prophets, and it would be reasonable to suppose that these insights formed part of His message.

The Gaon of Vilna wrote in a similar vein, “Everything that was, is and will be is included in the Torah… even the details of every animal, plant and inanimate object, with all their features.”

This notion has far-reaching implications. When God uttered metaphors referring to light, He knew that light bends in a strong gravitational field and that certain kinds of light can blast through solid rock. When He spoke of the heavens, He knew of the dark matter which permeates them. This premise enables us to revisit primordial Torah ideas and attempt to reconstitute them as they may have been understood by those who had deeper insight into them.

A simple Biblical reference to something from the physical world takes on startling new depths and dimensions when we bear in mind the knowledge offered to us by modern disciplines like astrophysics, quantum mechanics, meteorology, geology, biology and space exploration. Intergalactic Judaism seeks to investigate and enhance our understanding of the Torah in the light of the revelations of modern science, using these discoveries as a commentary on Biblical imagery while bearing in mind the sacred traditional explanations of the Torah that have been transmitted through the generations from Mount Sinai.

Praise for Intergalactic Judaism

‘This is a surprising book and a moving one, and no reader will come away without having learned not only facts of which he or she was previously unaware, but also a new reverence in the face of existence itself, a sense of privilege at being alive... Thank you, Rabbi Lister, for an unusual and delightful book.’

Lord Jonathan Sacks,
Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.

‘This thought-provoking book demonstrates how modern physics can refresh our perception of Torah and our work in the world.’

Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz,
author of Anatomy of a Search, Living Inspired, Worldmask and The Thinking Jewish Teenager’s Guide to Life.

‘Fascinating from a scientific perspective and enlightening and inspiring from a Torah perspective.’

Rabbi Zev Leff,
Rabbi of Moshav Matityahu and Head of Yeshiva Gedola Matityahu