Lifting off and lifting up
By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal
SAN DIEGO — Space exploration has always fascinated me so I followed the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket last Sunday with great interest. On Wednesday, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule docked at the International Space Station with close to 1,000 lbs of supplies. It was the first private commercial non-NASA supply mission to the space station, as these missions are handed over to private companies.
The success of this mission was even more remarkable given thatone of the Falcon rocket’s nine Merlin rocket engines shut down shortly after lift-off. The system’s computer controller shut the engine down after sensing a sudden pressure loss. The computer immediately compensated for the failed engine by adjusting the power settings and trajectory of the other eight engines. Working together they were able to compensate for the broken one.
Which brings me to parashat B’reishit and the story of creation.
After Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden they bore two children, Cain and Abel. In a fit of jealously, Cain killed Abel. He thought he could walk away from his crime. God would not allow it. “The Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’” (Gen. 4:9)
Trying to shirk off his guilt Cain replied, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9) God was incensed. “What have you done? Hark, your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!” (Gen. 4:10)
God told Cain, “Yes, You are your brother’s keeper! You are responsible for what happens to him. Do not think you can harm him, or avoid him when he is in need, and just walk away!”
The exchange between God and Cain informs the basic view of Judaism toward communal responsibility. We are not permitted to live as islands in the sea of humanity, oblivious to the pain and needs of those around us. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. We must reach out, support, and assist those who falter and help them reach their goals…
…just as the eight remaining Merlin rocket engines lifted their faltering brother.
Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Short URL: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=31737