Friday, November 27, 2009

Space race

“Charlie Buttons” is an eccentric who’s been part of the landscape of “770” for as long as anyone can remember. He wanders in wearing denim dungarees and a cap that sports various badges and buttons, and he always has a strange slogan to share. He targeted last week’s message at the thousands of Shluchim who had converged on Crown Heights for the annual Shluchim Conference. “I’m going to be a Shluchim (sic) on the Moon,” he happily announced up and down the Shul.

Many feel that Charlie already lives in Outer Space, but he’s an unlikely candidate for running the first lunar Chabad House. Make no mistake- there will be one. As soon as the first Jews settle on the Moon, you can bet Chabad will be there.

Space travel has historically been limiting- it costs a fortune and you have to be in prime health to make the journey. But, as the Shuttle fleet is set to retire, NASA is now looking to develop a cheaper way to get people into space. One radical concept that they’re seriously considering is the Space Elevator- a system that anchors a satellite to Earth’s equator, allowing us to move payloads up and down the 40 000km of cable. Clearly, there are many obstacles to this project, but they’re pursuing it seriously.

NASA’s inspiration for the Space Elevator may have come from this week’s Torah portion. In it we read how Yaakov dreams of a ladder linking Heaven and Earth on which angels climb and descend.

Yaakov’s dream-ladder is still in place- even if you can’t see it. It links us to G-d, allowing us to shoot our bundles of wishes up to Him and He to deliver blessings to us. Kabbalah calls it the ladder of prayer. When you start your prayer journey, you’re rooted on terra firma, but as you delve into its meditative embrace, you can break life’s gravitational pull and soar heavenward.

It may still take NASA years to hook us up with a Space Elevator system, but the cable that connects us on High is in working order, can carry any load and operates faster than NASA will ever be able to. With that technology at our disposal, we really should use it more often.

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