A Ladder to the Heavens

Vayetzei By :  Tim Daniel Bernard RS '09 Posted On Dec 9, 2016 / 5777 | דבר אחר | A Different Perspective | Natural World

Galactic wreckage in Stephan’s Quintet, in the constellation of Pegasus, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope from 300 million light years away. Source: spacetelescope.org/images/heic0910i; credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team.

As Jacob sleeps, he sees a ladder with its base on the ground and its top touching the heavens (Gen. 28:12). The seemingly unreachable realm above the earth, Jacob discovers, is actually relatively accessible, almost within our grasp. The images from the Hubble Space Telescope—and space exploration more broadly—play a similar role for us. One might have expected that humanity’s newly found ability to discover more about space would have blunted our sense of wonder, as more and more of the universe ceases to be so mysterious.

For Jacob, the effect of his experience on his sense of wonder is quite the reverse: “Jacob awoke from his sleep and said: ‘Wow! God is in this place and I hadn’t realized!’” (28:16). And the same is true for us. Either a browse of the galleries on the NASA and ESA Hubble websites, or a more detailed read about their recent discoveries, are almost guaranteed to open our minds to the vastness, complexity, and diversity of our universe. They may even lead us to exclaim, in Jacob’s words, “How awesome is this place!” (28:17).