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May 23, 2014 12:09 pm

Israeli Team Plans to Send Torah Scroll to the Moon (UPDATE)

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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A torah scroll. Photo: Rabbisacks.org.

An Israeli team hopes to send a Torah scroll to the moon’s surface, Britain’s Daily Mail reported on Friday.

The project has been named ‘Torah on the Moon.’ The group behind the initiative said the space mission aims “to celebrate the ancient book’s innumerable contributions to morality, justice, education, culture, arts and sciences as well as refocus society on the core values it contains.”

The scroll would travel outside Earth’s atmosphere with other Earth artifacts as part of the Google Lunar XPrize mission, a competition among private companies to send vehicles to the moon with the goal of maintaining Earth’s relics beyond a world-ending event, such as a nuclear war.

The sacred text would be transported in a capsule enabling it to survive on the moon for more than 10,000 years, the Daily Mail noted.

The Tel Aviv-based team behind the idea is hoping to later send the Vedas (Hindu scriptures) and the I-Ching (an ancient Chinese philosophical work). Each would be transported in the same type of capsule used for the sacred Jewish scroll.

“This is an incredible, beautiful project,” said group founder Paul Aouizerate. “These three texts are among Earth’s most ancient documents, created over 3,000 years ago. They are significant to billions of people.”

Aouizerate and his team are hoping to raise up to $20.5 million for their Torah mission by having scribes write each of the 304,805 characters contained in the sacred text.

The group’s efforts to create a capsule that can withstand the extreme temperatures on the moon may prove difficult, the Daily Mail reported. In sunlight, the lunar surface can reach 253°F, but at night it plummets to -279°F. A previous attempt by the Ecological Society of America to make a capsule that would keep the Torah safe failed to withstand the moon’s temperature swing.

The team has yet to book a flight to the moon. It had initially intended to join a lander being built by Israel-based SpaceIL, but the partnership failed. Aouizerate and his colleagues are now calling out to the Spain-based Barcelona Moon Team to see if they will take the artifacts, but there has been no confirmation of an agreement yet.

Sending sacred texts to space has been done before. NASA stirred outrage among atheists when the Apollo 8 astronauts read from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the moon in 1968. Famed astronaut Buzz Aldrin took communion on the moon before stepping onto the surface in July 1969 and the Apollo 15 astronauts left a bible on their lunar rover when they left the moon in July 1971.

An endeavor to preserve Earth’s culture has been considered in the past, with organizations saying humanity should create “time capsules” that will preserve Earth’s artifacts. NASA’s two Voyager spacecraft currently on their way into interstellar space each contain the Golden Record, a vinyl of various snippets of Earth life and culture, from the sounds of nature to images of humans. The collection is intended to be a lasting legacy of humanity’s place in the universe, the Daily Mail noted.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a statement from the mission’s organizers about its purpose.

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  • I think it’s a beautiful idea.. Judaism is beautiful and thinking of torah on the moon, to me, is simply spectacular.

  • shloime

    this is foolishness. it is the words that are precious, not the skin of a dead cow, and there is no ritual reason to exile a sefer torah to the moon. (after an apocalypse that destroys the earth, how likely is it that there will be a minyan on the moon?) it would be more practical to send a printed tanakh, which would not only include the books of the prophets, but also the vowels!

    it makes me wonder what “message” they are actually sending.

  • yosel G

    Their are still a lot of places on earth that need Torahs. When they take care of our needs then do this beis yisroel torah gemach is trying to dothis bytg.org what will be It becones posel? Will they have to send a sofer to fix it on the moon or will or will they send it back ups?

  • Emmett

    Of course the idiots are from Tel Aviv. Instead of a Torah, they should send a leftist in a capsule to the moon.

  • Human stupidity will NOT last forever!! THAT precisely will be the novelty of Moshiach!!! He will fill the world (even the Zionists) with the awareness of HaShem. But till then…. maybe they belong on the moon…. at least they’ll have a Sefer Torah.
    But even more stupid are the people who will donate 25 million dollars.
    Hey…. maybe they could put Shimon Peres in the time capsule!!!! I’d give money for that!!

  • Paul Distenfeld

    Lo Ba’Shamayim he.

  • Michael

    The days of the moon are also numbered. Nothing lasts forever – except perhaps for human stupidity.