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A Word Concerning the Tragic Disaster of the Columbia Space Shuttle

No Accident But a Clear Message from G-d

This word is written two weeks after the disastrous tragedy that befell the Columbia Space Shuttle. During these two weeks I have felt that this terrible event was not just an accident but was a clear message from G-d to all mankind, especially to the United States and Israel who participated in this flight. I feel that I can no longer hold this within my heart but that I have to share it with everyone, as I am sure G-d expects me to do. This godly message has great importance for all mankind in these special endtimes in which we are living.

More than any other astronautical event in the past, the flight of the Columbia and the subsequent tragedy became the center of attention of all the world and shocked all mankind, especially the people of Israel and the United States. This event continues to be at the center of world attention and cannot recede from its position.

The flight of the Columbia was, no doubt, the climax of the technical and scientific achievements of mankind. Despite this, the Columbia exploded into thousands of pieces killing all seven astronauts who gave their lives serving mankind in scientific and technical developments. Their tragic death broke the hearts of everyone in the world. Everyone in Israel and the United States felt the loss as one of their family died in terrible circumstances.

As complete believers in G-d — the Creator of all the Universe, who seek His word and know and believe His divine providence, we understand and know that nothing happens accidentally. Everything is controlled and handled by G-d, the Creator. The demise of the Columbia — such a major event with its special circumstances — was not an accident but the clear hand of G-d and a message to all mankind, especially to the United States and Israel.

Six of the astronauts were Americans and one an Israeli, named Illan Ramon. It was the first time that an Israeli had participated in a flight into space. Everyone in Israel was excited and respected and honored the way that he represented Israel in this flight. It was not only his humility and good heart which always showed on his face but the special way in which he demonstrated his deep connection and respect for the G-d of Israel and Jewish traditions. With him on the flight he took a copy of the Torah — the Word of G-d and His Law to His people Israel, which a young Jewish boy had succeeded in hiding from the Germans in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Holocaust. Illan Ramon showed the Torah to everyone all over the world and said that the Torah symbolizes the eternal godly survival of the Jewish People from the darkest days to days of faith and hope. He also took a Kiddush cup for use in the Kiddush blessing on Shabbat and showed it to everyone. From the Columbia he contacted Israel to check exactly when Shabbat started in space. This was a question which had never before arisen but now surfaced for the first time — when does Shabbat start in space? The rabbis answered that Shabbat would start for him in space at the same time as it starts in the place from where the Columbia was launched, the last place where he was on earth. He asked for Kosher food to be provided for him and this was the first time that NASA sent Kosher food into space and it was the first time that Kosher food was eaten in space. He behaved in space as a completely faithful son of the G-d and people of Israel and honored and sanctified the Creator of all the world before all mankind. This repeatedly touched the hearts of the G-d and people of Israel and his tragic death doubled the personal pains of everyone in Israel and even all the world. An astronaut is only allowed to take a few personal items with him into space and Illan chose to surround himself in space with items which symbolism and represent the Jewish faith, tradition, and history: the Torah, a Mezuza, a Kiddush cup, a painting done in the Theriesen concentration camp by a Jewish child who was murdered by the Germans, and a symbolic dollar from the Lubavitcher Rabbi, Rabbi Schneersen. In this way he proudly declared his Jewishness and his Jewish heritage. He honored the Name of G-d in a way that it had never before been honored. Illan's wife said that he was full of the spirit of G-d from the time that he started to prepare himself for the flight into space. His death is a great tragedy while at the same time intensifying all these exciting messages. The Jewish people will always remember him especially because of this. Illan was the Israeli pilot who chose to share with all the world the existence of the Holy One of Israel, the Creator of all the Universe, and his deep belief in Him and the fact that he was a proud Jew.

The view of our world from space by a human being is a double-edged sword. On the one hand tt brings the person to feel the greatness of G-d the Creator and the insignificance of mankind before the tremendous cosmos. On the otherhand, in some people, it plants the dellusion that they are like G-d or in place of Him — the feeling that the person is the only one and there are no others, the feeling of superiority which comes from the feeling that they can repeatedly escape all the limitations of nature which G-d created and its laws. This is the pride which carries a great danger of which G-d warned mankind from the first days of the creation when Adam and Eve decided to eat from the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and also later, when mankind built the Tower of Babel, the "space shuttle" of those days. Immediately I have to say that Illan Ramon felt, behaved, and represented the first scenario. Unfortunately, mankind has come to a stage which represents the second scenario.

It is not so much because of the scientific and technical developments of our time that this has occurred. There is nothing bad in scientific and technical progress. More than this, this is an endtime appearance of G-d and His spirit in the life of mankind which He promised and it is a part of His endtime blessings to man. Through His prophet Isaiah, G-d shared with Israel and all mankind His endtime redemptional plans and promised that at that time: "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L-rd, as the waters cover the sea" (Isiaiah 11:9). But the condition is very clear that this knowledge which comes only from G-d will not be used for negative purposes — "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain".

What is bad is the feeling of mankind in our time that all of this tremendous progress is the result of their own efforts and that everything that they can do is with the power that they have and not with G-d and His spirit. It is a tragedy for mankind and especially scientists who deny the existence of G-d and put themselves in His place. In Israel there was a great scientist, Aaron Katsir, z'l, who stated at the end of his life that the more he researched the universe and space the more he felt the presence of G-d and realized that He had created this tremendous universe. Unfortunately this is not the feeling of most of the scientists today and, together with them, most of mankind. They explain the existence of the universe without G-d the Creator as the result of an accidental explosion which occurred billions of years ago. This is not only their pride and sin but, at the same time, it is a loss of mind and understanding of what Abraham understood 4,000 years before them. Firstly, he believed in G-d as the Creator and reason for all goodness in the universe and in the life of mankind. At the same time he was excited by the appearance of G-d in His Creation — the world, the sun, moon and stars which behave according to a very clear law that only G-d could place at their foundation. G-d shared His mind and spirit with man who is so close to Him but can never be in His place. Man will never reach that position. The message of G-d to mankind through the tragedy of the Columbia is very clear: remove your pride, do not try to usurp G-d's place, mankind must know its place and limitations in the universe as flesh and blood and sons of mortality while G-d is eternal and only He can handle and control the universe, the life of human beings and all Creation. He is One and there is no other.

"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your spirit? Where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend up to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, the light shall be night about me. Even the darkness is not dark for you; but the night shines like the day; darkness is as light with you. For you have formed my insides; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvellous are your works! And my soul knows that right well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and finely wrought in the depths of the earth." (Psalm 139:6-15)

At the same time, the message of G-d is not to try to build a new Tower of Babel; know your limitations! King David pronounced this Word of G-d in a very special way when He said, "May you be blessed of the L-rd who made heaven and earth. The heavens are the heavens of the L-rd; but he has given the earth to the children of men" (Psalm 115:15,16).

The launch of the Columbia Space Shuttle and its fatal descent
The launch of the Columbia Space Shuttle and its fatal descent
Excited by the developments and progress in technology, the scientists are trying to fly to the far galaxies and to find the secrets of the universe and G-d's creation. It is not enough for them to fly to the moon. They now want to fly to galaxies which are thousands of light-years from the earth. They dedicate billions of dollars to these unachievable goals instead of using them to making the life of mankind better on earth. They do not want to recognize their limitations and that "the heavens are the heavens of the Lord" alone. With all the greatness in which G-d created the human mind, He created it with a limitation which can never be overcome. He knew that if this limitation were to be crossed, they would place themselves together with G-d and their greatness would destroy their very existence on earth, as has happened throughout the history of mankind, especially in our time when technical and scientific developments — the missiles, shuttles, and nuclear abilities — are so often used for destructive ends instead of for positive purposes. However, the main point is that human beings will never succeed in coming to the position of G-d. The prophet Obadiah warned man of this when he said, "'The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; who said in his heart, "Who shall bring me down to the ground?" Though you soar aloft like the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there will I bring you down', says the L-rd" (Obadiah 3,4).

The presence of G-d is all over, in heaven, in space, and on the earth. If you search for Him and open your heart you will find Him there as well. Only through Him can you fulfil the reason for your wonderful creation and the greatness of your mind but you will never reach His position.

The experiments of mankind in space are not the only mistakes and cause of pride. They occur in other fields of scientific endeavour in our time. I will mention only one. Scientists have recently come to such a position that they have tried to place themselves in the place of G-d as the creators of human and other life on earth. It was not enough for them when they managed to clone a sheep (Dolly) but now they are trying to clone human beings. A short time before the explosion of the Columbia, scientists in Italy, together with a strange organisation, stated that they had succeeded in cloning a human. One had already been born and another would soon be born. Some of the scientists who are trying to clone humans stated that it could be that people born in this way could be used as a source of body parts or as armies of workers or soldiers. This sounds terrible. At the same time we should realise that their attempts to usurp G-d's role and compete with Him, as we see, brings about terrible inhuman and ungodly ideas and the danger of corruption. At the same time we see that they can never replace G-d and that those clones have had terrible problems and sicknesses and have died at a young age. This is also the reason why G-d limited the abilities of man: because it can bring about a terrible and corrupted situation.

As we said, nothing is an accident. The Columbia included Israeli and American astronauts and exploded over a town in Texas called Palestine. Here was a clear message from G-d to Israel and America not to disobey His Word and His covenant with Abraham to give the land of Israel only to His people, Israel, for a godly purpose, for the endtime future of all mankind. Not long before the explosion of Columbia, President Bush repeatedly stated that he is determined to create a 'Palestinian' state in the holy land which G-d gave to Israel alone. Just recently he published it again under the name 'The Road Map'. Under this pressure, and the pressure of Europe and all the world, Prime Minister Sharon stated that he would accept it. This is a terrible sin against the very Word of G-d which will never be acceptable to Him. G-d never changed his Word or His covenant with Abraham and Israel. He is not like a human being or the politicians of our time. His Word is eternal and everyone in America, Israel, and all over the world should know that their plans to change the Word of G-d or to put themselves in His place and change his covenant will never work but will explode before their eyes and the price will be terrible. The creation of a 'Palestinian' state or nation — which has never before existed in the land of Israel or anywhere else in the world — is not only unworkable but, at the same time, antithetical to the Word of G-d, His covenant with Israel, and His endtime plans for Israel and all the world. G-d is warning us against this before the world goes too far, exactly as it is trying to do in space. The land of Israel was given by G-d to Israel to live there and to fulfil His endtime plans with all the world; to make Jerusalem the capital of Himself and His people, Israel; to rebuild His house in the midst of Jerusalem on the Temple Mount and to make it a focus for all the nations. There is no place in G-d's endtime plans for any other nation, especially the evil 'Palestinians' who are trying to destroy the redemptional event of G-d with Israel and, from Israel, with all the world. G-d announced His presence in heaven and earth when He commanded Israel "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8). In this endtime Temple G-d will now dwell, not only among Israel, but among all his creation. It is better that Israel and all mankind should dedicate themselves to bring about this great godly endtime vision which will change the life of all mankind and will bring their spiritual, moral, scientific, and technical abilities which G-d created and gave to them to their climax and in the right way which was prophesied through the prophets of Israel:

"But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the L-rd shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd, and to the house of the G-d of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for Torah shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem. And he shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide concerning far away strong nations; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the L-rd of hosts has spoken it." (Micah 4:1-4; cf Isaiah 2:1-5 and others)

In the Almighty G‑d of Israel We Trust!

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