Every year, scientists, rabbis and Jews in general gather for a conference on the 13th of Iyar, the day of the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Schneersohn, the brother of the Rebbe MHM, to speak about Moshiach, Torah and science. The conference is organized by the Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Research on Moshiach and the Sciences, directed by Prof. Shimon Silman who founded the Institute in 1993 with the blessing and encouragement of the Rebbe MHM. Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib was a genius in Chassidus and a mathematician. (See the recently published letter from the Rebbe HaRaytz to him.)
This year, the 28th conference was held on Pesach Sheni in Be’er Sheva. The aim of the conferences—and the purpose of the Institute—is to discuss innovative issues from various fields of science that relate to matters of Torah, Geulah and Moshiach from the point of view of Chassidus as expressed by the Rebbe MHM in the Sicha of Parashas Noach (Likutei Sichos, vol. 15, p. 42) that the revelations of Chassidus (“wisdom from above”) on the one hand, and modern science (“wisdom from below”) on the other, are united in their role to reveal the unity of Hashem in the world in preparation for the revelation of His absolute unity in the era of Moshiach.
The theme of the conference was “The New Heaven and the New Earth” which is one of the most wondrous Messianic prophecies of the prophet Isaiah, referring to a miraculous world order that will be initiated.
Prof. Silman brought the words of the Rebbe MHM regarding this verse (Kuntres Chag HaShavuos, 5749), which links the matter of the New Heavens and the New Land to the new revelations in the Torah with the coming of Moshiach – the “Torah Chadosha,” as the Zohar says, “Hashem looked into the Torah and created the world.”
The Rebbe MHM explains that it all begins with a new avodah of Bnei Yisroel at the end of the Golus to observe and disseminate Torah and Mitzvos, especially the inner levels of the Torah, in the world without taking into consideration any obstacles. This brings about a new revelation from Hashem—His essence (Atzmus) which brings about the new revelations in the Torah followed by “The New Heaven and the New Earth”—a miraculous world order combined with the natural order.
A new world order is also apparent among the nations of the world since the “Swords into Plowshares” prophecy began to be fulfilled in 1992. Prof. Silman provided some very interesting and encouraging data regarding the maintenance of low-level armaments (as a percentage of the GDP), measured by the “Militarization Index”, among the five permanent member nations UN Security Council: the United States, Russia, Britain and France and China.
The Chief Rabbi of Be’er Sheva gave his blessing to the conference, emphasizing the superiority of the Torah, which is the “blueprint” in which Hashem looks to create the world; all wisdom originates in the Holy Torah, which determines the reality of the world and the reality of life.
New Heaven – Moonshine
Interestingly, Professor Silman noted, the heavenly body which Judaism deals with the most is the moon. Although the sun determines the beginning and end of the day (sunrise and sunset) the moon determines the beginning and end of the month and the times of the holidays. Moreover, Bnei Yisroel themselves are compared to the moon and are “destined to renew like the moon” in the Messianic era. The course of the sun is fixed, but the course of the moon is strange and interesting, as Chazal said (quoted in Rambam, Hilkhot Kiddush HaChodesh): “The sun knows its course but the moon does not.”
In addition, one of the miraculous and wondrous events of redemption is that the moon will return to being as bright as the sun—as it was at the beginning of Creation: “And the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun …”
Because of this, the organizers of the conference, Prof. Silman and his friend Rabbi Shlomo Dubnick of Be’er Sheva, very much wanted to bring a scientist from SpaceIL, the Israeli company that recently sent a spaceship to the moon, to lecture at the conference. They succeeded in contacting one of the engineers, Mr. Ariel Gomez, who agreed to lecture.
The Genesis spacecraft – Ariel Gomez
As an introduction to the engineer Gomez’s speech, Prof. Silman suggested: “Why did a company in the Land of Israel think of sending a spaceship to the moon? Couldn’t they find anything better to do with money and the technology they had—perhaps invent something to improve the daily lives of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel? He went on to say that whatever might have been their outward intention, a deeper reason—especially connected with the Messianic age—might be that, since we are already in the Messianic era, these are the last moments in which we can still examine and investigate what’s happening on the moon as it is in its present state.
It seems that we are all familiar with at least part of the story of the spaceship Bereishit, because it inflamed the imagination, exalted the spirit, and filled with pride the hearts of all the people of Israel wherever they may be.
Here we will bring a few more points, just to arouse the curiosity of readers. They can listen to the lectures in their entirety on the website of the RYAL Institute, www.RYAL.org.
The task of landing a spacecraft on the Moon requires, of course, to match the conditions there. As opposed to what happens on earth, the moon has a day and a night, which is 12 earthly days long. The moon’s temperatures are very extreme, because the moon does not have an atmosphere to balance the temperatures. In the middle of the lunar day, i.e. after 7 days, the temperature climbs to 130-degrees centigrade at the center of the moon. At night temperatures drop to values of down to —200 degrees centigrade. So the landing was planned for the lunar day, close to the lunar sunrise, and the mission had to be completed within a day or two, so that the spacecraft’s components would be exposed to relatively normal temperatures.
The landing was designed for a relatively flat area called the “Marea serena,” —the calm sea.
The launching stage was the most expensive, but because the spacecraft was installed on a rocket, along with other satellites that were supposed to be launched out of the Earth’s gravitational field, the price dropped considerably. This distance, according to all opinions, starts at 100 kilometers above our heads (the furthest humans ever reached is 400,000 kilometers). The time needed to reach this point, where the spacecraft departs from its launch missile, and begins to head towards its destination, is about 10 minutes.
The next step was to aim to the moon. Here they used interesting techniques to maintain direction and acceleration. The direction was navigated with reference to the location of the sun. The spacecraft had solar panels that supplied electricity for the cruise, and information about its location relative to the sun and the moon. If there was a need to change direction, this would be done using navigation information from the solar panels and by means of its small engines.
The tasks assigned to the spacecraft were: landing on the moon, taking a selfie, and moving 500 meters on the moon. In addition, the crew accepted a project from the Weizmann institute in Rehovot, Israel, to measure the moon’s electromagnetic field. Although the landing was not smooth, to say the least, the spacecraft made it to take a selfie, and was able to make partial measurements of the electromagnetic field. These measurements were innovative in the sense that previously electromagnetic field measurements of the moon had been carried out from various distances, but never on the Moon itself.
The interesting innovation of our moon mission, Mr. Gomez said, was the educational value that it had, namely, to demonstrate that “nothing stands in the way of the will.” The first push to build the spaceship was an international competition initiated by Google to launch a non-government funded spacecraft. Of the 40 programs that were sent from around the world, only the Israeli program was feasible, and since it had no competitors, there was no competition … and no budgets were given.
But the Israeli team did not give up, turning the mission into a personal issue. Indeed, landing a spacecraft on the moon is a very expensive project, but the goal had been set and the team (three companions just after the army or university …) wanted to show the world that “nothing stands in the way of will.” For this educational purpose, teams were established that provided lectures throughout the country, in educational institutions. The spacecraft received extensive coverage in media in Israel and around the world, and they tried to emphasize the educational value that it had. It is not an exaggeration to say that its crash landing was also a source of inspiration, since the planners immediately declared: “I fell, but I got up”, by planning to launch another spacecraft in a few years. Failure was a source of learning, and motivation to continue to success.
The whole story was a Kiddush Hashem: the name of the spacecraft, “Bereishit,” related to the story of the creation of the universe. In order to preserve the holiness of the Sabbath, a Halachic question was sent to Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, regarding how to maintain constant contact with the spacecraft and to allow for necessary changes and maneuvers on Shabbat itself—all done according to the instruction of the Chief Rabbi, while observing the Shabbat and the Holy Torah … and with a lot of publicity. In a chip added to the spaceship’s computers there was a picture of the Rebbe MHM, a Chitas, a Tanach, and many children’s drawings that were given to the team as part of the educational project initiated. Indeed—Torah, science and Geulah.
How did the spacecraft’s builders use Earth’s escape velocity to reach the moon? How did the planners of the spacecraft succeed in creating such a pretentious project at such a low price? Why did it have both big and small engines? As mentioned above, much more fascinating information related to the spaceship can be found in the full video the lecture on the RYAL website.
BREAKING NEWS: A few weeks ago (after the conference), scientists announced that they found an unidentified object buried deep beneath the south pole of the moon. The object, probably metallic, is five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii. NASA wants to send astronauts up there to check it out. (They better hurry up…)
The New Earth – Torah and Agronomy
And from “the new heaven” we move on to “the new earth.”
Just like the Jewish people are compared to the moon, the prophet likens them also to the earth: “For you shall be a desirable land, says Hashem” (Malachi 3:12). The Baal Shem Tov’s explanation on this verse is well known: “Just as the greatest sages will never comprehend the great natural treasures that the G-d planted in the earth— “everything comes from the earth—so too no one can comprehend the great treasures that are hidden in the Jews, who are G-d’s ” desirable land.”
Is there a connection between agronomy, the commandments in the Torah related to land, and the true and complete redemption? Apparently, yes, very much, according to the agronomist Dr. Amir Musari, the next lecturer at the conference. An example of this can be seen in the chain of events concerning the dispute between Avraham and Lot, his nephew. Sheep grazing in fields designated for agriculture, if carried out without supervision, causes almost irreversible damage to the soil. The correction of this situation is accomplished through controlled growth of certain plants and creation of a renewed ecological cycle of plants and animals. Since Lot’s shepherds were not careful about this, Avraham wanted to separate from him. So it seems that confrontations between shepherds and land workers have existed almost since the creation of the world—but not forever. Already, shepherding programs are being implemented, and it turns out that a balanced shepherding is not only harmless but beneficial to the land, as the sheep fertilize the land. These plans, according to Dr. Museri, may be the opening shot for the ideal situation that will take place in the future redemption: “Wear sheep’s pillows … and valleys will envelop the wild.”sheep fertilize the land.”
Other fascinating topics were discussed in his lecture, such as the influence of the ants, acacia trees, and sycamore trees (which rehabilitate the soil). The importance of observing the mitzvot that are dependent on the land, such as shmita, peyah and kilayim (hybrids), which preserve the fertility of the land and the abundance of agricultural growth, and prevent the over-exploitation of the land and the dilution of its resources. How kind is Hashem! How much love there is in every Mitzvah, at all levels—physical and spiritual! It is clear that there is no loss in keeping a Mitzvah.
Gems and Precious Stones – Avi Taub
The Baal Shem Tov said that just as the greatest sages will never comprehend the great natural resources that G-d put in the earth, no one can comprehend the great treasures hidden in the Jews. The Rebbe MHM, with his prophetic spirit, sees the depth of goodness in every Jew—and also saw treasures of precious stones buried in the Land of Israel in the area of Mount Carmel and the Kishon River—and revealed them. Since then, Shefa Yamim has been digging there and finding them!
The last speaker—last but not least—was Mr. Avi Taub, head of Shefa Yamim, from whom the conference participants received a report on the progress of the search for precious stones and gems in the Kishon river channel. Boruch Hashem, they have already found a considerable quantity of precious stones that are of commercial value, and pictures of jewelry designed from these stones were displayed. It was found that, as the Rebbe MHM’s prophecy indicated, the types of stones in the channel are varied. This phenomenon is surprising to internationally renowned geologists and scientific articles have been published in their journals about it. This phenomenon has also been covered by television news networks.
The conference was concluded by Professor Silman, with cordial wishes, and with a prayer to see the Rebbe MHM bring the true and complete redemption to its completion immediately, and with the declaration: Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’Olam Voed!