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The Rabbi on the Beach @ The Shul on the Beach

Tales From 30,000 Feet

Yesterday I flew cross country. Our route: LAX —> JFK.

Something profound happened aboard that aircraft and that is the point behind this post.

While cruising at 30,000 feet we witnessed an amazing sight.

Our son Rami, saw it first. Looking out the window he saw giant flashes of white. The flashes were streaking across the evening sky. As we were above the clouds, the flashes were reflected off the clouds making for quite a light show.

We were witnessing a lightning storm. At 30,000 feet the lightning is pure. Unblocked by trees and buildings, we were able to watch the lightning for a little while and it was truly spectacular. We had front row seats to an inspiring show of natural beauty.

I looked around and found a video that depicts a similar “show” to what we were treated to. I think ours was even better.

As an observant Jew, I believe these natural beauties are placed into our natural world by God. It is inspiring to see such beauty up close. Observing such spectacular natural wonders reaffirms my belief in an all-powerful and good God.

As I was contemplating this very idea, I remembered something I heard from my Rebbe.

It is one thing to see Godliness in natural beauty. The rational behind this is that God placed the tools in the universe that can manifest as a spectacular lightning storm or grandiose waterfall or a Grand Canyon or a sparkling shooting star. Additionally, every moment of the universe’s existence is willed by God so it is easy to “give God the credit” for natural beauty.

I am a huge fan of the “Planet Earth” series for this reason. When we see the natural beauty that exists in our world we are inspired.

My Rebbe says that it is even more incredible when we see Godliness in Man’s accomplishments. If we can walk past a skyscraper or beautiful display of artwork and see Godliness that is even more impressive.

Meaning, the fact that man has the ability to do such impressive things can also be attributed to God. It was God who gave Man the ability to produce such amazing results.

Therefore, when we see a “man made” creation and we can be inspired to see Godliness we are on a higher level of understanding and reality than when we see Godliness in natural beauty.

As this thought crossed my mind I realized how remarkable it is to fly in an airplane. A capsule the size of a skyscraper hurtling through the air at high speeds, transporting hundreds of people, on a system that can bring people to an incredible amount of different destinations.

Yes, we do have pet peeves about flying (more on that another time) but that should not take away from our appreciation for the advanced technology and innovation necessary for airplane travel.

As I was seeing a natural phenomena that blew my mind I was sitting in an airplane whose technology blows my mind as well.

That was an eye opening trip.

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2 Responses

  1. Tzvi Haber says:

    and here I get on a plane at least 6 times a year and have never had such ‘lofty’ thoughts. Very thought provoking.

  2. cyberdov says:

    Good inspiration. However, on seeing similarly inspiring sights from a plane above the clouds, what it made me think of was our own insignificance. Incredibly beautiful things are there to see every day, yet before air travel no one ever saw them, and even now over 99% of the beautiful things in God’s creation are witnessed.

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June 2009

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