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Ilan Ramon

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Rabbi Jonathan Blass

5 Adar I 5763
Question
My father’s religious friend told him today that Ilan Ramon died because we aren’t meant to explore "shamaiim" and that the sefer torah that he took with him wasn’t kosher, that he landed on shabbat, etc... do you lend any credence to these kinds of arguments? who does? I am totally shocked and hurt when I hear religious people talk about dead Jews this way. By that line of reasoning, my dad’s entire family wouldn’t have been killed by the nazis since they were Hassidim. It just doesn’t make sense to me. What do you think?
Answer
There is absolutely nothing in the Torah to prohibit space exploration. Space is not even the "shamayim" referred to in most verses of the Tanach. HaRav Kook refers to the possibility of colonizing the planets as a solution to the population explosion. Landing on Shabbat in a plane on automatic pilot or flown by a non-Jewish pilot is not, in and of itself, a chilul (=desecration of) shabbat, although a religious person would be restricted in his movements upon descent and would not be able to give press conferences etc. until after shabbat. In any event, even when a transgression is committed, only a prophet (and unfortunately nowadays we do not have any) can make the connection between it and any tragedies that occur. Facile explanations ignore the complexity of the universe that G-d created and governs in His wisdom and cause a chilul hashem (=desecration of G-d's name). The messages broadcasted by Ilan Ramon, and his taking a sefer Torah with him, whether kosher or not, was a kiddush hashem (=sanctifying of G-d's name). If it doesn't make sense to you it's because your head is in the right place.
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