Isaiah's Comet

Thursday, 7 August, 2014 - 12:34 pm

What is the shortest distance between two points? Of course, a line.

Just don’t tell that to the consortium of scientists who announced yesterday the stunning accomplishment of the Rosetta Mission–a mission that has a space-craft catching a comet. Looking at a map on the mission’s website, the track of this space craft has a closer resemblance to the journey of a meandering, staggering drunkard, rather than a meticulously planned path that has been lauded by experts as “shooting a bullet with a bullet—a billion miles away!”

To paraphrase a motto of the Baal Shem Tov: Every that one observes in life, must become a guiding light. So what can we learn from this?

A few standout aspects of the mission:

Gravity Assist –A significant portion of the propulsion of the Rosetta spacecraft stems from the ‘Gravitation Assist’ it has received from the wide, circular orbiting path. Using the gravitational pull of large objects which are certainly not the desired destination (Earth three times, and Mars once), –Rosetta has used the energy harnessed by these ‘fly-bys’, to move into its present precise location.

Mission Purpose: Scientists have pointed to comets as a potential source of the origins and building blocks of the solar system. The purpose of Rosetta is to analyze Comet 67P to enlighten scientists as to the source of Life on Earth and Earth’s development.

A Lengthy Hibernation:  During one of these wide orbits, the spacecraft was so distant from the Sun (1 Million Miles!) that the craft went into a near four-year hibernation. Despite this, it now stands in perfect position.

Rosetta’s mission parallels our soul’s life-mission on Earth.

Placed on Earth, the souls is charged with the mission  to uncover the source of it all—G-d.  Embedded in this world are sparks of G-dliness, which we reveal with every mitzvah. The soul is sent on this challenging mission with no less lofty a goal than to expose the Divine, the true building blocks and fundamental reality of our world.

Mission success is never as simple as a straight line of accomplishment. We tend to swing from one extreme to the other. At times, we achieve great progress.  At other times, we experience terrible missteps in the wrong direction--having lost track of our objective, we confuse life’s ‘bright lights’ with our distant Comet's guiding light.

Our solar arrays are fully unfurled, yet unable to give our lives the positive spark of true vitality. We have become so distant from our sun that we have spiritually shut down and we lie dormant.

Looking at Rosetta, we find inspiration. Much like the craft employs its circuitous trajectory as a means to its destination—so too we must realize that life’s mistakes can subsequently power us in the 'right direction'. Judaism instructs us not to merely repent for our mistakes, but rather to do Teshuva—a corrective maneuver which returns us to our Mission, but now with the ‘Gravitational Assist’ directly resulting from our wayward trip.  

In the final words of the Haftara this Shabbat, Isaiah urges us:  “Lift your eyes heavenward”, Isaiah says, “ and you will see Who created these. He brings forth their legions by number, He call them all by name. Because of His abundant might and powerful strength--there is not missing even one [orig. Heb. Ish -Person]"

This Shabbat, perhaps these words have an even deeper meaning. Let us look heavenward, and may Rosetta inspire us to find our source, and to never feel that we are ever terminally off-mission.

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