Space and Parashat Terumah (from Exodus 25:1-27:19).
During the week of February 8, we focused a lot on "Space," following the space shuttle disaster. This week's Torah portion also focuses on space, that is, "sacred space." It discusses building the tabernacle, a portable shrine to house the Ark and tablets. The Haftorah associated with the portion (from Kings), focuses on permanent holy space, by giving instructions on building the tabernacle. .
We might say that Ilan Ramon built a portable shrine to Judaism. He brought with him on the space shuttle many objects and customs to make the shuttle sacred. He brought a mezuzah, a miniature torah scroll, and a painting by a child in a Nazi concentration camp. He only ate kosher foods. He said the Shema whenever the shuttle passed over Jerusalem and tried to keep the Sabbath to the extent possible.
George W. Bush continued with a focus on space, with the words of comfort he offered from Isaiah 40:25 following the disaster:.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens.
Who created all these?.
He who brings out the starry hosts one by one.
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength, .
not one of them is missing.
Isaiah spoke these words to comfort the exiles in Babylonia and the residents of destroyed Jerusalem. We read this on 1st Shabbat of Consolation, following Tisha B"Av, called Shabbat Nahamu, for the opening words, Comfort oh comfort.
And perhaps outer space is also sacred:.
The poet Hana Senesh, who was also a paratrooper in WWII, talked about getting comfort from space: .
"When I feel like my world is falling apart, I look up at the sky and somehow feel comforted that it is still there." .
She wrote a poem:.
Yesh Kochavim / There are Stars.
There are stars whose light reaches earth.
Only as they themselves are lost and are no more.
There are people whose radiance illumines their memories.
When they themselves are no longer in our midst.