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!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • 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.