“The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land.” – T.H. Huxley, 1887
After we pass, all of us hope to leave something meaningful behind for our children and hopefully our larger community. But, after eons of time, our memories fade and dissipate into the past. Who will remember, love or cherish us like our family and friends do today? In a vacuumed of time, the Universe does not concern itself with us, nor does it with where we live, what we do everyday, who we know, how happy we were or how much money we accumulated. “There are some hundred billion galaxies, each with, on the average, a hundred billion stars… The only planet we are sure is inhabited is a tiny speck of rock and metal, shining feebly by reflected sunlight, and at this distance utterly lost” (Carl Sagan). Our universe’s infiniteness consumes our planet and our lives into an inevitable nothingness of past.
My insecurity is that I am nonexistent because time will not remember me nor will the vast cosmos above acknowledge I ever existed after my passing. Time will go on and after 100 years, everything I knew will also be forgotten. But, finding meaning in Judaism changes everything. It gives me hope by teaching me that any single action of mine ripples across the very Cosmos that threaten to erase me. The Torah teaches me that our efforts and ‘souls’ go on forever. The first law of energy states: “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed” – the energy of our lifetime and memories go on forever. I am not insignificant. I exist. The challenge I face is to find a way to contribute meaningfully in a special way to my communities and humanity – a way that won’t be forgotten and more importantly, will be felt for years to come.