The Kabbalah of Space Stations

space station

Credit: Illustarion by Harry Frankl courtesy larryniven.net

 By Yonatan Gordon

We’re going to take a break from our journey through the solar system, for a discussion about another celestial object: the Morning Star.

It used to be that our articles covered new and emerging technologies. Then we started talking about science fiction and movies. But even while we have seemingly transitioned from the realm of fact to fiction, we’ve always tried to center our discussions on some real-life elements to even the most fictional of stories. So it is with the space station depicted in the movie cited in Part 3 of our Kabbalah of Science Fiction Movies series

There’s an in-depth infographic on Space.com that tells you all the ways people have wanted to design space stations over the past 85 or so years. Instead of copying the gigantic image here, you can Click Here if you want to tread through it.

What does this have to do with the Morning Star you ask? In addition to finding points of realism, in otherwise fictional stories, many times technology itself borrows from elements of the natural world. There are many examples of this, but perhaps the clearest is that we call the genre science fiction, not technological fiction (even though it is usually technologies that are depicted as futuristic).

If birds inspired planes, and porcupine quills are inspiring a new generation of hypodermic needles, then maybe there is something even more futuristic about nature than the futuristic technology it inspires?

What technology then did the Morning Star (the star that appears in the sky just before sunrise) possibly inspire?

Hillel ben Shachar

What is the name of the morning star? It is the most beautiful of the stars. It is also called הִלֵּל בֶּן שַׁחַר , Hillel ben Shachar. Shachar means dawn, and Hillel ben, means the Hillel of the dawn (meaning the light of the dawn star). The Malbim explains that the light of a twinkling star is not enough to read a book by, for instance, but it has special beauty. There is something more beautiful about the light of the stars, which is more than that of the sun and the moon.

When a star twinkles, its light draws me towards it. It has the power to draw me to it. The sun and the moon do not draw a person to want to ascend to become one with them. But, the star does. This is a positive l aspect that is greater than what the sun and moon have.

Colonizing the Morning Star

While we can understand why talk of colonizing the sun hasn’t taken off, at first glance it doesn’t make sense why building a space station in space, should be any easier than colonizing the Moon? While I’m sure that there’s some technical support for it, the deeper reason for why space stations are so wondrous may be because they are more “star-like.” That is, that they twinkle in ways that the moon does not.

It then makes sense why the hope for the future of civilizations in science fiction movies, often begins on off-world space stations. From the Earth, these colonies may indeed be mistaken for a star (perhaps even the Morning Star); but instead of appearing prior to dawn, these stations appear in these fictional accounts at the dawn of a new epoch of humanity.

Although we cannot say with certainty that this is why the writers of this movie, had the concepts behind Hillel ben Shachar in mind; now at least we can appreciate why the “twinkle twinkle” of “little stars” seems so miraculous.

Excerpted and freely adapted from 3 Elul weekly class of Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh in Jerusalem 

 

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