The Kabbalah of Science Fiction Movies, Part 2 (Subsurface Life)

europa report

By Yonatan Gordon

Thanks to Europa Report, we were encouraged to continue our “Kabbalah of Science Fiction Movies” series (For Part 1, Click Here).

In our original article, we corresponded the 7 prevalent Sci-Fi themes to the 7 emotive sefirot. But it is helpful, whenever we observe some system, to meditate and think of how to correspond it to the sefirot–the channels of Divine energy or life-force that God used to create our finite universe.

While our solar system is not the only one in the universe, since this is where we are, it seems a natural place to start.

Our question for today then is what sefirah (sing. of sefirot) does Jupiter (the planet that the Europa moon orbits around) correspond to? According to Rabbi Ginsburgh, the answer is “beauty” (תפארת /tiferet). What is the explanation?

“The Hebrew name for Jupiter is “tzedek,” which literally means “justice.” Indeed, there is an important idiom in Hebrew mishpat tzedek, which would simply translate as “just justice.” In the Tikunei Zohar, this idiom represents the union of Beauty with Kingdom, the relatively masculine and feminine forms of beauty.”

Subsurface Life

Before we begin to explain this quote, let us first reference back again to Part 1 of this series. What theme did we attribute to Beauty? Subterranean Cities, which in Europa Report simply translates as “subsurface life.” The purpose of the mission, and the climax of the movie, is to see whether life exists beneath the ice-covered surface of Europa.

But why is this important? The movie ends with the remark, that “the understanding of life in the universe has been changed forever.” Being as a robotic mission may launch in 2020 (see: “Will the Europa Clipper Cruise to Jupiter’s Moon?”), how will finding life in these subsurface oceans of Europa, change our lives down here on Earth? As this Discovery article states, it comes down to whether life can thrive anywhere in the universe or not:

Studies suggest that just below that layer of ice, lakes cycle minerals to-and-from the irradiated surface into the comparative protection of an extensive subsurface ocean. These facts, plus the possibility that substantial quantities of oxygen are thought to be mixed in with the liquid water, has prompted scientists and science fiction writers alike to imagine not just microbial life, but the possibility of evolved multicellular Europan lifeforms.

Imagine terrestrial jellyfish and you wouldn’t be far off some of the serious suggestions of the kinds of life such a moon may be capable of spawning.

Of course, this assumes that life is compulsive; if there are the ingredients for life (organic compounds, liquid water and an energy source) life can thrive anywhere in the universe — an assumption that currently has little scientific foundation as the only lifeforms we know exist are gathered on one planet, Earth. So…we keep sending robots to Mars and listen out for intelligent extraterrestrial signals from other worlds, all in the hope of answering the age-old cosmic conundrum: Are we alone?

Song of Creation

In Part 1, we said that plots about underground cities, should also talk about how each subterranean dweller is also expressing care and compassion for one-another. Although the surface above may be harsh and barren, the warmth coming from these underground tunnels should be felt not just in the relative warmth of the climate. This is an opportunity for former foes, to throw down their weapons, and band together in relative peace.

But this mode of conduct isn’t just important for humans. In some sense, we would also like all of creation to somehow “get along.” In his book Perek Shirah (The Chapter of Song), King David composes various verses sung by each element of creation. We could say then that a manifestation of the union of the sefirot of Beauty with Kingdom, is more pronounced when more of creation is singing together in praise to God, their creator.

What difference does it make whether we find life on other planets, and how does finding life on Europa forever “change our understanding of life” in the universe”? Because if there is life on other planets, then we can begin attuning ourselves to hear more of the continuous song being sung by creation.

A Naming Game

One of the games of the future, is to ascribe Torah games to new things that we observe. As we named Jupiter “tzedek,” so too each new observation, whether seen in space or in the depths of Earth’s very oceans, can go through a Torah naming ceremony.

The first activity of Adam, the first conscious being, was to name each of the creatures that God brought before him. Similarly, we are taught that the Mashiach will invent new words, obviously based on the permutations of known Hebrew roots. From this we can see that a human has the innate ability to name new things that he sees around him and he has the insight to give them the correct name.

Since God creates the world through His ten lights which are the sefirot and the 22 vessels which are the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the correct name for an article is the word whose Hebrew letters in that particular combination and permutation serve as the channel of the article’s continual re-creation.

Just Justice

Now we can better appreciate why finding life on Europa is seen as something significant. The first reason is that at first, we may have thought we were singing this song alone (although other planets, stars and other spatial objects also sing). But if we find life elsewhere, we now realize that the song is more harmoniously diverse than we had originally thought.

The second reason why finding life would “change our understanding,” is that while we’ve had many recently discovered spatial objects to give Torah names to, if life-forms are found, this opens us up to new naming opportunities.

The “justice” in this sense is the furthering of this world order, that began with Adam. To show that the Mashiach will not only name those things found on Earth, but that his domain (naming and otherwise) will encompass all of creation.

Excerpted and freely adapted from portions of


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