The Sun Is a Star

Discovering Science From a Background of Orthodox Belief

Lisa Anchin

By Judy Brown (Eishes Chayil)

Published September 06, 2012, issue of September 14, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

On a Tuesday in July 2007, I learned that the sun is a star. A friend of mine, formerly Hasidic, told me the secret. She informed me that the heavens look nothing like we think. I said, “Huh?”

“Look,” she said reasonably, “I swear. It explains it here, in this incredible astronomy book. The sun is a star, a medium-sized one — and just one of millions in our galaxy…”

She looked at me, waiting for my wonder. “Stars,” she said, pointing enthusiastically up to the clouds, “can also be suns.”

I looked suspiciously at the book in her hand. I turned away. I sat down heavily on the steps, pulling my maternity shirt over my swollen stomach. Good God. She actually believed that stuff. The school we attended, the ultra-Orthodox Bais Yaakov School, did not teach us astronomy. But, still, we know the sun is not a star.

No, the sun is The Sun. The one with six to nine planets around it. The one God created after painstakingly reading the Torah instructions. The one, and the only one, in this universe, lighting our way along with the single moon and the myriad stars.

My friend insisted. It isn’t like that.

I patted my friend on her shoulder. I told her it is okay — we all have mental breakdowns sometimes. She went on. It’s the way it is with breakdowns. She spoke about light years, the distance between stars. She talked about elements forged in light and stars, rambling for minutes at a time. It was disturbing. It is one thing to demand that the sun is a star, perhaps a matter of linguistic interpretation, but that other stars are suns, too — with planets around them — whole galaxies impervious to and in complete contradiction to His orders? God would never betray us like that.

It is not that we disagreed about the fact that light travels. It does — just not very far. I explained this to her. I tried to make her see the logic. It was simple, only one sentence long and in the Torah: On Wednesday, God created one sun and one moon. Separately, He created stars. In the Torah it does not say, “And on Wednesday, God created many, many suns that from afar will look like many, many stars whose light will reach Earth after light-years of travel.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.