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

(page 2 of 4)

But my friend had sparks in her eyes, the kind that emanate from people who confuse facts for knowledge, evidence for science. I listened to her convince herself. I sighed. Why would the sun be a star? Why be a star when you are already a sun?

So my friend gave me a book and said if I was so certain, then I should read it and convince her why it couldn’t be true. I read the book. It was called “Cosmos,” by Carl Sagan, and I never should have read it. Sagan was a scientist, and people like him use words in a deceptive sort of way so that it makes a deceptive sort of sense, and can, after not much difficulty, break even the strongest will. He described a mind-defying universe where suns confuse themselves with stars, where distances are so vast that they are measured in light years, where suns are drawn by gravity into galaxies, swirling in a cosmic dance across space like clusters of lovely seashells in the vast, empty ocean. Countless suns, countless galaxies, all the time, everywhere.

I tried to convince another close friend, a Hasidic woman, to read “Cosmos,” too. That way we could be confused together. She said that a book like that is a test of faith and I shouldn’t have read it to begin with.

She was right, of course. Why had I read it? Because now that I had, I knew God’s terrible secret; that his universe is large, and that He pounds out worlds like matzo balls, as many as He pleases, without so much as glancing at Earth. And from wherever He is in the terrifying vastness, up and beyond, could He see us at all? Did He care that we are here, a floating speck of planetary dust among the unfathomable largeness of space, where light just travels and travels and travels, never stopping, never ending, for billions and billions of years longer that it is supposed to?

I tried to understand God. I mean, we humans have always wanted a God that is all-great and all-powerful, but not quite like that. Just enough so we could pretend He is a lot like us and we are enough like Him, and that the universe is not much larger than our minds.

I never finished reading the book. I stopped halfway, when, for the fifth time, I read the word “evolution.” I felt uncomfortable with the book, as if it were a dirty thing I had touched. My formerly Hasidic friend said the word “evolution” often, without wincing, as if there were nothing to be afraid of at all.

“Who are you to tell God how to create the world?” she asked. “And if He decided to do the job through Evolution? What are you going to do, ban Him?”


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!
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • 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.