Scientists recently discovered monster galaxies near the edge of the known universe. The James Webb space telescope has detected what appear to be six massive ancient galaxies, which astronomers are calling “universe breakers.” Their existence upends current theories of cosmology. As one cosmologist explained: “it’s bananas.”
Early Greeks explained the universe with stories. Helios drove a chariot of winged horses across the sky. The sun rose as Helios ascended in the sky. The day ended as Helios circled the world. Yet the light of the sun never stopped shining.
In Jewish tradition, God has set the sun in motion, the moon and stars in their paths, and the light never stops. Our task is only to notice and appreciate. Each night at services, those attending, tell the Jewish story of the universe. The Creator created day and night, darkness before light, light before darkness. Each day is a reminder of the inexplicable unfathomable force that creates our Universe. It’s bananas.
Religion, like cosmology, is an attempt to explain the inexplicable. Humans abhor uncertainty. Not knowing unnerves us. Alternatively, God comforts us. In the Jewish tradition, God is sometimes referred to as the womb. How so? God is merciful. The Hebrew word for mercy, rachamim, is related to the word rechem, which means womb. God is the source. God birthed all that is.
I can’t fathom a news story about the discovery of rapidly developing galaxies at the edge of the known universe. Rather, I find comfort in God, as creator and mother, who generated light that pulses from one edge of the universe to another. When we perceive that light, we receive new revelations.
Torah teaches that we light an eternal flame. Today we do so in synagogues above the ark holding the Torah. There is an important connection between the eternal flame which represents the primordial and unending light of the universe and Torah which is timeless wisdom. Light persists even when we can’t see it. Knowledge is accessible even when we don’t access it.
The secular scientist learns of six new galaxies and says it’s bananas. The Jewish theologian’s reaction? “Is anything too wondrous for God? (Gen. 18:14)” For the rest of us, not cosmologists or philosophers, our task is to cherish the energies that create precious life. Our lives are ever-evolving as we emulate God’s mercy that gives quality to our lives. Whether we see it or not, the light never stops shining. How we behave in the light makes all the difference in this world.
Rabbi Evan J. Krame