Elon Musk's goal of producing a habitable human colony on Mars, seems to have become more appealing in the past few months. An escape to a new planet might not be so bad after all!

While landing a human on Mars would certainly be a better-than-ever giant leap for mankind, we now know that the universe - even our own solar system - is so incomprehensibly large that Mars is practically next door.

Not only are there many other solar systems, but many galaxies, and clusters and superclusters of galaxies. The Torah does not take the system of the universe lightly, nor deny its complex scientific nature. In fact, the Talmud (Berachot 32b), identified galaxies, clusters and superclusters millennia ago, long before the Milky Way was even discovered!

There is an interesting tale, recounted in the book of Joshua, which is particularly notable in light of the respect with which the Torah regards science and nature. For this tale is about a time when the entire solar system came to a grinding halt.

The event took place over three millennia ago, shortly after the Jews first entered Israel, under the leadership of Moses' successor, Joshua. Joshua had come to the aid of the city-state of Givon, just north of Jerusalem. Givon was an ally of the Jews, and had been attacked by its neighbors who had discovered this alliance.

Joshua arrived at Givon just in time to push back the attackers, and needed more time to win the battle. He prayed that the sun be stopped, and the day extended. The book of Joshua then tells us that the sun - and the entire solar system! - froze in its place for several hours, giving Joshua those extra hours of daylight he needed to win the battle and rescue Givon.

Joshua had a mission. His mission was to keep the Jewish people safe and secure in Israel. He knew his cause was just, and there was nothing that would stop him. Even if the entire solar system seemed poised to hinder that mission, no matter.

The date of Joshua's 'sun-stopping' was the third day of the Jewish month of Tammuz, which was just yesterday (today is the fourth day of Tammuz).

The third day of Tammuz was also the Lubavitcher Rebbe's twenty sixth Yohrtzeit. Although thousands of years apart, it seems apropos that these two events in Jewish history - the solar system stopping for Joshua, and the Rebbe's Yohrtzeit - should have happened on the same day.

The Rebbe's entire outlook on life, and the vast international Chabad network which he founded, was based on the fundamental ideal that there is a spark of goodness and divinity in everyone, and in every thing. Every person has a unique goodness to add to our world, as does every place, culture, and even object. Nothing and no one is beyond the pale, and if we haven't discovered the goodness in someone, it just means we haven't looked hard enough.

The Rebbe taught that there is no obstacle to this ideal, and encouraged his Chassidim, and everyone he met, to be just like Joshua. He taught to never relent in spreading this message of the underlying positivity in everyone, just waiting to be revealed. It might at times be hard, unpopular or even laughable - the solar system itself might seem to be in the way! - but if we try hard enough, the goodness and G‑dliness within every person place or thing, will certainly shine bright.

Our world was wired by its Maker to be a good, caring, holy place. This might not always be obvious. It may even be the extreme opposite of what we see. But as Jews it is our most basic conviction. The G‑dly spark of goodness within is always there. Sometimes the goodness might be hidden, waiting to be brought out into the open. Our job is to help everyone fine that spark, and shine.


Rabbi Avrohom