The seder as time machine


The Passover Haggadah -- with which I have spent a fair amount of time, in its variety of forms -- teaches us that the Exodus from Egypt is not something which happened "once upon a time" to "them" back "then," but something which continues to happen right now for us.

עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְריִם -- "We were slaves to a Pharaoh in Egypt," the Haggadah teaches. Not "Our ancestors were slaves." Not "maybe our ancestors might have been slaves, though we're not sure, because the historical record doesn't entirely support the claim..." We were slaves. We ourselves.

In the text which describes the Four Children (one who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is simple, and one who does not know enough to ask), we are instructed to tell our children that we do this because of what God did for us when God brought us out of Egypt. Not for our ancestors. For us.

The seder is a time machine. It moves us through time and space (both of which, intriguingly, can be described with the Hebrew word עולם.) As we enter into the ritual of the seder, we re-experience that journey from constriction to liberation which is core to our sense of ourselves as the Jewish people.

As the traditional text teaches:

בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר: בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה יְיָ לִי, בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָיִם. לֹא אֶת־אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בִּלְבָד, גָּאַל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, אֶלָּא אַף אוֹתָנוּ גָּאַל עִמָּהֶם...

In every generation one must see oneself as if one had personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt. As it is written: "You shall speak to your children on that day, saying, this is how the Holy Blessed One redeemed me from Egypt. It wasn't merely my ancestors who were redeemed, but the Holy Blessed One also redeemed us with them..."

It was not merely my ancestors who were redeemed, but the Holy One of Blessing also redeemed us. The Exodus isn't something that happened (or didn't happen) there-and-then: it's something which we can experience now in our own spiritual lives as we move from constriction toward freedom.

In Rabbi Dan Fink's words, "Pesach is not about remembering the distant past; it is about re-experiencing that past in the present time. It is not the story of our ancestors long ago; it is our story." We don't just retell; we re-experience. We make the experience present for ourselves again.

When we celebrate the seder together, we're connecting ourselves with everyone who has ever celebrated seder and everyone who will ever celebrate seder. Our ancestors and our descendants, and our fellow-travelers around the globe at this holy moment of interconnection. Seder links us all.

Sitting down at the seder table is a little bit like stepping into the TARDIS. (Keen eyes will have spotted the familiar blue box among the haggadot depicted at the top of this page.) If we throw ourselves into the experience, it will whisk us away into mythic time. It places us right in the story.

Liberation is still happening. Our hearts are still crying out from our narrow places, and God still hears those cries and answers them with expansiveness. We are always setting forth on a journey with an unknown destination. We are always being called to trust; to step into the waters before they part.

Where will the TARDIS take you this year? How will it feel to re-live the Exodus now, as the person you are becoming, with the experiences the last year have brought you? The haggadah may look like a plain bound book, but it's bigger on the inside -- and if you let it, it will carry you somewhere amazing.


Step into the TARDIS three weeks from tonight -- the first seder this year falls on the evening of Friday, April 3.

Natural history of a world that never was

Anhod-coverOne of the things I frequently love about science fiction and fantasy is that it opens up the possibilities of worlds other than our own. In that sense it's a very redemptive genre, because it holds out hope that the way things are is not necessarily the only way they could possibly be.

The most recent SF/F book I've devoured does this -- with a twist. The setting isn't futuristic, but the past, in a world which is clearly not this one but has enough in common with our own that the changes are striking. The book in question is Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent, which purports to be the illustrated memoir written by the woman who pioneered the study of those magnificent beings.

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world's preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

(That's how the book is described on the author's website.) It's a pitch-perfect rendering of a Victorian memoir, with the most delightfully plucky and well-rounded heroine one could ask for. And -- you will probably not be surprised to discover that this is a part I thought was neat -- the book hints at a kind of alternate version of Judaism in this unfamiliar world. Or, actually, two versions. My first clue was the passing reference to Lady Trent having published her memoirs in 5658. That sounds like the Jewish way of counting time, not the Christian one. But that one detail wasn't enough to convince me that this world's alternate Judaism was intentional.

My second glimpse was when Lady Trent, offhandedly, mentions that the Vystrani pray and study scripture in Lashon, whereas in Scirland they use the vernacular. "Hm," thought I. "Lashon means 'The Language' in Hebrew. I wonder whether that's an intentional shout-out, or whether she just chose the syllables because they sounded nice." I shouldn't have doubted; everything else about the book is so thoughtful, of course Brennan made her imaginary linguistic choices intentionally. Sure enough, immediately after the reference to Lashon vs. vernacular, we learn that both variations of this world's dominant religious tradition make use of a "blessing at the end, with fingers divided," and that the blessings final words are "and bring you peace." If that's not the Priestly blessing, I'll eat my kippah.

Religious practice in Scirland and in Vystrana are not the book's primary theme. We catch glimpses of this world's religious life only insofar as it's relevant to the unfolding plot. There are two primary forms of the dominant religious tradition, one Temple / sacrifice-based and the other centered around study. In Vystrana the locals are highly concerned with purity, and require immersion in "living waters" when the visitors encounter a potential spiritual contamination. (Hello, mikvah immersion! That, in turn, reminded me of one time when I followed ancestral practice and immersed in an outdoor source of living waters before Yom Kippur...which was awfully cold, though not nearly as bad as what Isabella expriences.)

Also when the visitors encounter that contamination, the townspeople rush them with graggers, which Isabella notes she's only ever encountered before at a particular religious festival when the noisemakers are used to drown out the name of the villain, wicked Khumban. That festival will be Purim, in our world, which is coming up in just a few weeks, so that reference made me grin.

Part of what's delightful for me about this is that Brennan doesn't make any kind of big deal about Judaism (or variations thereupon) being central to the book. It's just part of the background, part of how Isabella processes the world around her.  Brennan's written about her decisions to work with Judaism in these ways in a guest post at AlmaNews -- Marie Brennan on 'Natural History of Dragons.' See also Prodding the Defaults, episode 316. One of the things which can be frustrating about being part of a minority religious tradition, in our world, is that the imagery, iconography, and assumptions of the dominant tradition are everywhere, and no one questions that default setting. I enjoyed reading about a world in which traditions and practices are intriguing variations on my own, rather than variations on Christianity.

Anyway, it's a lovely book, and I'm already looking forward to the sequel.


The Zohar and the Force


"Its energy surrounds us and binds us," says Yoda to Luke Skywalker, describing the Force. "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter!"

We've had a lot of snow days recently in New England. Snow days mean playing outside, sledding, hot cocoa, building things with LEGO -- and also cuddling on the couch and watching movies. We've been showing our son the early Star Wars movies -- the ones which came out when we were kids. Recently that's meant The Empire Strikes Back.

George Lucas is on record as saying that Joseph Campbell's writings about the hero's journey were a major influence on these films. And a quick internet search reveals a lot of essays about the theology implicit in the films, from Star Wars Spirituality in Christianity Today to Monomaniacal in Tablet. What strikes me, watching the movies again now with our son, is how Star Wars makes me think of the germinal work of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar.

We read in the Zohar ממלא כל עלמין וסובב כל עלמין -- "You fill all worlds and surround all worlds." The Zohar also teaches that God clothed the first human beings not in garments of skins, but in garments of light. (The Hebrew word for light אור and the Hebrew word for skin עור are homonyms: they are both pronounced or.) In the world to come, teaches the Zohar, we will wear garments made of light, woven from the mitzvot we performed in this life.

Luminous beings are we. And the Force pervades all worlds. Sounds pretty Zoharic to me.

It turns out I'm not the first person to make that observation either -- Eliezer Segal's The Force is With Us notes a variety of places where Star Wars aligns with kabbalistic teachings: not only the binarism between darkness and light, but also the idea of descending into the darkness in order to defeat it. For that matter, the whole idea of the "Dark Side" is parallel to the kabbalistic idea of the sitra achra, the "other side" to which darkness cleaves.

(I'm ignoring altogether the nonsense about midichlorians which George Lucas inserted into the later films, which turned the Force into something which can be measured in the bloodstream. As far as I'm concerned, that was a retrofitting of the original mythology, and not an interesting one.)

I wonder what our son is taking away from these movies. He probably sees them as an epic battle between good guys and bad guys, which is simplistic but age-appropriate. Someday when he's old enough, I hope he'll be interested in learning some Zohar with me, or with another teacher who speaks to his heart. And maybe when he does, he'll remember these Star Wars movies and smile.

Thanks, Moment!


It's lovely to be the Jewish Renewal voice quoted in this Moment magazine article about cultured meat and its putative kashrut. (Science fiction future, here we come?) Here's how it begins:

In Genesis, God granted humans dominion over animals. In modern times, that dominion has spawned one of the planet’s biggest threats: a livestock industry that spews greenhouse gases, guzzles resources and renders the lives of billions of animals brutish and short. Last August, vexed by the problem, a Dutch physiologist named Mark Post came up with a solution: a burger no cow had to die for. He called it the “test-tube burger.”...

Read the whole thing here: Test Tube Burgers: Holy Cow? (I don't chime in until the very end, but I'm honored to have the last word!)

"To boldly go": on Lech Lecha and Star Trek


Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before. [Source]

If you're a Star Trek fan, just reading those words has probably caused the theme music to swirl wildly through your head.

(I've just revealed myself as a fan of Next Generation, since those are the opening lines of that second iteration of the show. In the original series, the opening lines referenced the Enterprise's "five-year mission," and closed "where no man has gone before." Among my college friends, it was common to whoop and cheer out loud when we heard Sir Patrick Stewart intone "no one has gone before.")

This week's Torah portion begins on a similar note. We're reading Lech-Lecha this week, which begins:

וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ...

The Eternal said to Abram: "go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father's house, to the land that I will show you....

These are the voyages of the patriarch Abraham. (He'll inherit the extra syllable in this week's portion.) His continuing mission: to explore the ancient Near East, to seek out new tribes and new civilizations, and -- spiritually, at least -- to boldly go where no one had gone before.

Abraham is regarded as the first monotheist. Midrash holds that his father Terach was a maker of idols, and that young Abram knew them as false gods and smashed them in his father's workshop. (The same story appears in the Qur'an, as I've mentioned before.) In this week's Torah portion, God tells Abram to boldly go toward a destination which will be revealed as he gets there.

Abraham's travels show the importance of the journey. He displays emunah, faith and trust, by allowing himself to wander where God will take him. Jewish tradition holds that he was a paragon of hospitality whose tent was open to all comers. In that, he's not so different from the crew of the USS Enterprise -- though their wanderings aren't explicitly theological. Theirs is a secular humanist vision.

Abraham's descendants, too, will wander in what could be seen as a continuation of his voyages. (Judaism: The Next Generation.) Jewish tradition imputes meaning even to the wandering in the wilderness which the Israelites will endure after the Exodus from Egypt, and Moses' life too seems to be more about the journey than the destination. I think we're still on Abraham's journey of discovery.

I like to read the opening words of this week's parsha, "lech-lecha," not only as "go forth" but "go forth into yourself." Each of us is Abraham. Each of us is on a voyage of discovery. We're all always going wherever God will lead us. And we're all always exploring new worlds -- even if we're doing so internally, on emotional and spiritual planes, rather than in the vastness of the Gamma quadrant.




With gratitude to Joy Fleisig (@datadivajf) and Lee Weissman (@jihadijew) for the Twitter conversation which sparked this idea!


Inviting (science) fictional ushpizin

There's a Jewish custom of inviting ushpizin, holy guests, into the sukkah each night. In the most traditional paradigm one invites seven (male) Biblical figures; in a more contemporary paradigm one invites Biblical figures of both genders. Each of the invited guests represents or channels a particular mystical energy, so in calling on that figure to invite them to one's sukkah, one is also inviting that figure's qualities to flow into the sukkah and into one's life.

For instance, on the first night it's traditional to call on Abraham. In kabbalah, Abraham is connected with the sefirah (divine quality) of chesed, overflowing lovingkindness. On the second night, one would call on Isaac, who is associated with gevurah, boundaried strength. (And so on.) Here's a lovely Seder Ushpizata by Rabbi David Seidenberg -- a liturgy for inviting and calling-upon these incorporeal guests and their holy qualities. And here's a fantastic infographic on the ushpizin, which lists the traditional (male) ushpizin, an alternative list of female ushpizot, and even a set of Hasidic figures who can be mapped to the seven nights of the festival.

FireflyShortly before the holiday began I found myself pondering aloud on Twitter how one might map these seven kabbalistic qualities to characters from Firefly. The tweet drew enough response that I figured it was worth expanding into a post! If one wanted to welcome the crew of Serenity on all seven nights of Sukkot, in what order would they be called-on, and what qualities would we ask them to channel for us?

(If you are not a fan of Joss Whedon's tragically short-lived "space western" Firefly, the remainder of this post may hold limited appeal for you. No disrespect is intended, in this bit of whimsical geekery, to the traditional custom of inviting Biblical ushpizin.)

Continue reading "Inviting (science) fictional ushpizin" »

New beginnings, Doctor Who, and teshuvah

Last spring, just before Shavuot, I brought two classical midrash about the giving of the Torah at Sinai to my Hebrew school class, and one of my students made some fannish connections.

Rabbi Yochanan said: When God’s voice came forth at Mount Sinai, it divided itself into seventy human languages, so that the whole world might understand it. All at Mount Sinai, young and old, women, children and infants heard the voice of God according to their ability to understand. Moses, too, understood only according to his capacity, as it is said (Ex. 19:19), “Moses spoke, and God answered him with a voice.” With a voice that Moses could hear. (Shemot Rabbah 5:9)

I brought this midrash to my class, and one of my bar mitzvah students -- a big fan of the television show Doctor Who -- raised his hand and said, "It's like the TARDIS was there, translating!" I knew exactly what he meant.

TardisWith some prompting he explained to the class that the TARDIS is a time machine. It appears to be an iconic blue police box, though it is famously "bigger on the inside." And it contains a translation circuit which ensures that no matter where or when its inhabitants travel, everyone can be understood. I told him I thought that drawing an analogy to the TARDIS was an interesting way to think about the teaching that everyone heard Torah in a language they could understand. The tradition also teaches that "Torah has 70 faces; turn it and turn it, for everything is in it." Arguably the Torah too is "bigger on the inside" -- always containing more than we imagined.

Then we moved to the second midrash I had brought:

Because the Holy One appeared to Israel at the Red Sea as a mighty man waging war, and appeared to them at Sinai as a teacher who teaches the day’s lesson and then again and again goes over with his pupils what they have been taught, and appeared to them in the days of Daniel as an elder teaching Torah, and in the days of Solomon appeared to them as a young man, the Holy One said to Israel: Come to no false conclusions because you see Me in many guises, for I am God who was with you at the Red Sea and I am God who is with you at Sinai: I am Adonai your God.

The fact is, R. Hiyya bar Abba said, that God appeared to them in a guise appropriate to each and every place and time. At the Red Sea God appeared to them as a mighty man waging their wars, at Sinai God appeared to them as a teacher, as one who stands upright in awe when teaching Torah; in the days of Daniel, God appeared to them as an elder teaching Torah, for the Torah is at its best when it comes from the mouths of old men; in the days of Solomon God appeared to them as a young man in keeping with the youthful spirit of Solomon’s generation. At Sinai, then, when God said, I am Adonai Your God, appropriately God appeared to them as a teacher teaching Torah. (Pesikta de-Rab Kahana 12)

This, too, made my student think of the Doctor, because the Doctor also appears in different guises at different times: young and old, warrior and scholar. He was so enthusiastic about drawing out these lines of inquiry that I promised him that he could speak about this at his bar mitzvah if he were willing to do a bit of extra learning with me, a bargain which he eagerly accepted.

As I worked with him over the summer on his d'var Torah ("word of Torah" -- the spoken-word teaching he would offer at his bar mitzvah which would relate Torah and Jewish tradition to his own life), we talked both about how he understood his Torah portion and its relevance to his life, and about how these midrash evoke his favorite pop culture hero. (Of course we also talked about how Jewish understandings of God are different from the Doctor, because that matters too.) When he spoke from the bimah, he spoke about his Torah portion; about his participation in one of our congregation's social action projects; and about how he related Doctor Who to his understanding of what it means to be a Jew.

Continue reading "New beginnings, Doctor Who, and teshuvah" »

Phoebe North's Starglass

StarglasscoverI posted last week about Helene Wecker's The Golem and the Jinni, which I had the opportunity to finish on my way home from the OHALAH conference of Jewish Renewal clergy.

The other book I read on my way home was Phoebe North's YA novel Starglass. It's about a girl named Terra growing up on a spaceship which has been traveling for 500 years toward a new home, a planet the would-be colonists call Zehava, a name which means something like "Golden." (If that puts you in mind of historical Jewish yearning for Yerushalayim shel zahav, Jerusalem, city of gold, you're not far off the mark.)

The premise -- ship full of travelers who departed Earth in crisis and are seeking a new home -- is one I've seen before, and probably you have too. (I think especially of Molly Gloss's gorgeous The Dazzle of Day, one of my favorite examples of that trope.) Part of what makes Starglass unique is how Judaism is woven into the fabric of shipboard life. Well: a kind of Judaism. A Judaism which has evolved in complicated ways over the 500+ years since the asteroid wiped out life on Earth and these colonists set out on their long journey.

The worldbuilding is terrific. (There's a whole page on the author's website dedicated to explaining the world, the ship's architecture, and so on -- but you don't need to read any of that before you dive into the novel; it's just fun stuff to explore once the pleasure of the novel is over.) North trusts us to follow her narration and to understand Terra's world by watching her grow up in it. North doesn't overexplain, and as a result, I as a reader got all kinds of happy little glimmers of recognition as I figured things out.

As the book unfolds, it becomes clear that this isn't just an ordinary coming-of-age story -- not even an ordinary coming-of-age story in space. This is a book about history, totalitarianism, politics, liberty, the importance of fighting for what you believe in. And, of course, also about choice and romance and growing up and parenthood and childhood and all of that good jazz.

For me, the glimpses of how Judaism has been both preserved and mutated are the most fascinating part. The passengers' lingo is peppered with Yiddish and Hebrew words, most of which retain the meanings I know -- but some have shifted. For instance: bar mitzvah, in this book, refers to the coming-of-age ceremony whereby a shipboard boy gets his vasectomy so that accidental pregnancies won't disrupt the delicate ecosystem of shipboard life. (Babies are grown in uterine replicators anyway.) All kinds of substantive Jewish ideas and concepts have been subtly refigured here: mitzvah, tikkun olam... It's both beautiful and chilling to see how Jewish language and practice has shifted in this fictional universe.

There's an excerpt online at -- take a peek and see if this book might be your cup of tea, as it was mine. My only real quibble was where it ended; I felt as though we were on the cusp of a whole new adventure, and while it was a reasonable ending-point for the novel, I still wanted more. Then I found out there's a second book coming out next summer, Starbreak. Now I can't wait for July when I get to find out what happens to Terra next.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

GolemJinni-PB-199x300When I started this blog in 2003, it never occurred to me that I might wind up with a sideline in recommending religion-related speculative fiction. But here I am, having written about Saladin Ahmed's delightful Throne of the Crescent Moon last month, and G. Willow Wilson's delightful Alif the Unseen some time before that, and now I've got another recommendation  -- Helene Wecker's The Golem and the Jinni.

This book interweaves two mythologies into one entrancing novel. This is the story of Chava, a golem (think: creature made of earth, brought to life via mystical kabbalistic incantations, á la Rabbi Loew of medieval Prague) and Ahmed, a jinni (think: fire-spirit as mentioned in the Qur'an, the sort once enslaved by Suleyman a.k.a. Solomon) who meet in New York at the turn of the 20th century.

I've known the golem stories for as long as I can remember. I have a tiny clay golem figurine which I bought from a street vendor in Prague (my mother's birthplace) on my first trip there in 1993, and when I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the mystical letter-combination practices of the Sefer Yetzirah and Abraham Abulafia, I spent some time dipping into golem stories just for fun. The jinni material was less known to me, but the book is so deftly-woven that my relatively shallow familiarity with that story didn't matter.

Wecker's depiction of 1899 New York is rich and detailed. Equally so are the depictions of Konin in the late 1800s, and the Bedouin encampment a millennium before. But I think what I like best about the book is the slow, cautious friendship which develops between the two supernatural beings. Both the golem and the jinni are lost in almost-20th-century New York, and as each of them struggles to process the peculiarities of this place and time, the reader experiences the unfamiliar landscape along with them. For both Chava and Ahmed, being exposed to ordinary human society would have disastrous repercussions.

Those similarities aside, they're about as different as two characters can be. One's from Jewish folklore and the other's from Arabic folklore. One's newly-made and the other is ancient as the sands. For that matter, one's (literally) an earth elemental and the other's quintessentially fire, with all of the personal characteristics which those terms imply: steadiness versus capriciousness, rootedness versus wanderlust, quiet contentment versus burning passion. Their relationship is by turns sweet and prickly, filled with misunderstandings -- but as they come to know each other, we get to listen in, and that's a real delight.

There's an excerpt on the author's website. Take a peek, see if this might be a good fit for you. I envy all of y'all who haven't yet read it, and will get to enjoy its twists and turns for the first time.


Maybe I'm reading too much science fiction...

Tonight I went to a Laurie Anderson concert at MASS MoCA. It was a premiere of brand new stuff, never before performed. Perhaps most fascinating for me was the discovery that when work is new, she needs it written down; her pacing is a little off; she doesn't maintain the usual dry Laurie Anderson drawl throughout. Anyway, she just finished a gig as NASA's first artist-in-residence, so she talked a lot in this piece about space. Maybe that's why, when I got out of the car at my house, I reflexively glanced up.

It's a clear night, and we're about as close to moonlessness as we get. (Wednesday night and Thursday are new moon, Rosh Hodesh Tishri, also known as Rosh Hashanah.) The sky is salted with stars, more of them in my field of vision than I could possibly count. In a great streak across the middle of the sky there are so many stars it looks like fog, or like cloud: I'm looking longways into the spiralling arm of the Milky Way. As many times as I've seen this, it is always breathtaking.

At the end of this upcoming Friday's Torah reading, an angel promises Abraham that his descendants will be as many as the stars in the sky. To me tonight, that sounds like an implicit promise of space travel. So many descendants couldn't fit on this earth and survive: if the children of Abraham will be so numerous, we'll have to establish a home on Mars. (Unfortunately, it looks like the first Orthodox ruling on a halakha of space travel doesn't smile on permanent offplanet habitations.)

Personally, I'd love to see how space travel would influence our liturgy. The ma'ariv aravim prayer blesses God Who, among other things, sets the stars in their appointed paths; imagine the power of saying that prayer in space! Will we recite old blessings for wayfarers when departing for space, or will new brachot for liftoff arise?

I'm reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy now. One of the intriguing things he posits is what he calls the Martian timeslip: the thirty-odd minutes when the clocks stop, between midnight and 12:01, so that the Martian day can be separated into 24 hours like the Terran one is. To me, that sounds like a little taste of Shabbat: a time outside of time. I think space travel could enrich Jewish practice in fascinating ways.

Or maybe I'm just reading too much science fiction. Which reminds bedside reading is calling my name.