13 June 2016

The Vastness of Space

What purpose is served by the vastness of the Universe?*

Why the countless millions of huge worlds in teeming oceans of light, out in the seemingly endless stretches of space?

We possess the key to this riddle, “G-D made, so that they should fear Him.”

“The Good One created this glory for His name”(from the morning Yotzer). Had our earth been surrounded by a dome of finite dimensions, we would have a finite estimate of the Creator’s greatness. In order to be presented with an example of His immeasurability, we are given the opportunity to gaze into space. Men may send rocket ships further and further, but no end comes into sight. Our telescopes penetrate into endless distances, but they merely discover the vast void beyond their range. The illimitability of the physical Universe shatters all smallness of concept. 

But this Universe is a grain of sand to its Creator. 

Compared to Him, His Creation is as nought. To realize this, then, is the greatest of purposes. To soar through space at fabulous speed on the way to the moon, is to discover what the Torah always teaches but what men never really learn: that G-D is infinite. When on the moon, men see that they have not even begun to penetrate Space. 

The moon is but a prisoner of the earth’s gravity; it is our nearest neighbor and our back yard. Yet even so it is a tremendous distance from the earth. Then how vast is the distance to the outer reaches of the solar system which spins around the sun?But the sun is a minor star (the star Rigel is 13,000 times as bright as the sun) among 100 billion in a galaxy which is in itself inconsiderable among countless galaxies in the vast endlessness. 

Traveling at 11 million miles per minute, we could reach the moon in one second; but to reach Rigel (in our galaxy) would take 500 years. A single cluster, Hercules, is estimated at a million stars, 35 thousand of which are much brighter than the sun. And the whole, whatever its measureless dimensions are, is the handiwork of the creator, Who willed it into existence and Who wills its continued existence. 

But this is merely the lobby.

* The Splendor of Shabbos by Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt’l


List of Brightest Stars

Rigel a/k/a 
Beta Orionis, the brightest star in the constellation Orion and the seventh brightest star in the night sky

Deneb is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus

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