Sunday, August 30, 2009

Klal Yisrael's Venusian Path

In this week's (Parshas Ki Savo) Haftorah (60:3) we are told that kings will walk in the brightness of our shining ("Nogah Zarchech"). One might wonder, what is the difference between the two words used here for light and shining. Our shining is referenced as "Zerichah" ("Zarchech") and the light is called "Nogah". It is interesting to see that this word "Nogah", which is not as common as "Ohr," for light is also found in next week's Haftorah (Parshas Nitzavim-VaYelech). There we are told (62:1) that silence will not happen until the righteousness of Yerushalayim comes out like "Nogah", a bright light.

Many have suggested (such as Rav Yonasan Eibshitz zt"l) that the reference in next week's Haftorah is actually a reference to the planet Venus. Venus is commonly called Nogah in Talmudic literature. It is the brightest starlike object in the sky. In fact, it is only outmatched by the Sun and the Moon. When it is at its brightest it can even cast small shadows here on our planet. Often times people have confused it with being some sort of aircraft or UFO because it is so bright. Because Venus' orbit is between us and the Sun, it is also only visible prior to dawn or just after sunset and then it sets quickly so many have assumed that it must have been a moving object.

One might ask, what is the connection between Venus' light to Klal Yisrael, shouldn't the Moon have been picked instead? Perhaps, the Navi was also alluding to another aspect of Venus' light. Venus is the only planet that orbits the Sun in a counter-clockwise direction. Therefore, it always appears to have a "retrograde" orbit. It is going "backwards" in the sky when compared to the path that the other planets take.

Maybe the Navi is saying that finally after Klal Yisrael reaches her greatness, the other nations will recognize who we truly are. We have always been taking a "backwards" path in their eyes. Our religious beliefs are foreign to them and we go against the grain of humanity. When the recognition of our trueness is finally expressed, the kings will finally follow the shining of our "Nogah" as it is expressed in this week's Haftorah. The other nations will recognize that this path is the true one. It was their beliefs that were backwards, they will be the ones to suddenly have to change their paths. Therefore, the righteousness of Yerushalayim will come forth like "Nogah", as stated in next week's Haftorah. The recognition that the brightest of all the "stars" is the one that appears to be going backwards relative to the others. It is Venus and Klal Yisrael that were really on the correct path the entire time.

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