Guest Post, by Boruch Katina of Passaic, NJ
When contemplating the size of the universe and how small we are, I was wondering “who are we that G-d should pay any attention to us? Do we make a difference?” So, I made the following calculation, if you multiply the 500 billion galaxies (estimates are 100 to 500 billion) by average 100 billion stars in each galaxy, you get 5*10 to the 22 power. But if you get the about 100 trillion cells in a human body and multiply by 7 billion world inhabitants, you get 7*10 to the 23 power, or 14 times more than the number of stars in the observable universe (as far as our telescopes can reach). Now, this calculation is only including humans, but there are zillions upon zillions more of different animal species, vegetation, micro-organisms and bacteria everywhere, an “unlimited” number of them.One can wonder, however, that a star is big and a cell is small, so aren’t galaxies more complex than the human body?
From a cellular perspective – A star is a non-living entity, while each cell is live and is extremely complex, with a DNA that contains the blueprint of the whole body (it can potentially recreate the whole body). While the stars and planets are “dead”, the cells are composed of 23 trillion molecules that coordinate among themselves and operate to maintain life within the cell. Cells go through complex duplication phases, DNA encryption, and just the daily maintenance and coordination between cells and organs is a world in itself, a level of complexity that is not found in the dead planets or solar systems. The DNA in each cell commands exactly how much each cell should grow/multiply and tells all the veins and capillaries (60,000 miles if attached end to end) to supply 100 trillion cells with the blood supply. The cells and veins/capillaries grow exactly from the blood artery to the location where it needs to be, and stop growing right there. If the capillaries were to continue growing beyond their target, or if the cells themselves were to continue growing non-stop, the body would not be able to function. This is actually very similar to what happened once in the universe in the early stages of creation – G-d’s name Sh-d-ai symbolizes the one who told the universe to stop expanding. From a cellular perspective, the body needs the same command, to just grow to the specific sizes and positions and stop! But the body has to do this continuously, as our body parts are constantly being replaced. This also leads to the next difference, that while the stars and planets exist for millions of years, our body is constantly replacing its cells, with 2 trillion cell divisions/replacements occurring every 24 hours. So, from our intricate cellular perspective, it seems that our 100 trillion cell body is a lot more complex and therefore, needs more attention from G-d than the stars.
From a mind perspective – As opposed to the stars and galaxies that continue on their predictable paths and therefore require little supervision from G-d (relatively speaking), due to our ability to engage in free-will, G-d judges us every moment for every thought we have and for every move we make. It’s not just the thought but the quality, feelings and intentions behind it. And G-d is judging the whole world, every person on the planet at the same time. Additionally, because of this free will, our future and the future of our counterparts is constantly changing based on our decisions. When we make a decision to be good or bad, G-d has to plan our life and relationships accordingly, whether we are going to be making more or less money, be more or less healthy, if we are going to meet certain people or not, and how is that going to affect our family members and friends, and even those whom we don’t know yet. These dynamics are constantly being played by all 7 billion people in the planet at the same time. Our free-will changes our life paths and requires G-d to provide constant intimate supervision, a supervision that is not needed for the dead planets aside from letting them keep doing the same thing.
So when wondering about our small size versus the universe, we should not be intimidated by our size but understand that just like the DNA is the most complex entity in our planet, despite its small size, so are we humans, the most complex entity in the universe despite our small size.
As such, I conclude that despite our small size, it seems that our life in this planet seems to be more complex that what goes on in our observable universe. So, when wondering why did G-d make the universe so big, perhaps we can say that one reason is to show His abilities. Because that in order to show (at least in one way) that He is capable of creating this complexity on earth, it’s imperative that such a G-d be able to create something as vast as the whole universe. The whole universe (which is based on dimension within dimension (quarks, atoms, molecules, cells, organism, human, planet, solar system, galaxies)) is to show that indeed, He can read and judge every person’s thoughts, coordinate every action and every cell. Now, if the universe were to really reflect the complexity that goes here on earth, then perhaps it should have been much bigger. Actually, some scientists claim the real universe to be much bigger than what we can see, as big as if our whole universe were just an atom inside the real universe.
So when wondering “What is a man that G-d should pay attention to”, if a man is just mundane, not thinking about G-d, then right, perhaps G-d is not that interested in that kind of man and eventually all his actions and thoughts will be forgotten, just like a little speck of dust in the vast universe. But for a man who is constantly thinking about G-d, who is constantly thinking about doing mitsvos and subjugating his heart to G-d, then G-d has a high interest into that person. The complexity of all the thoughts about that person, how much reward he deserves for each thought, is something extremely complex and of high interest to G-d, who wants to give us so much reward. Then, perhaps man can be as much or even more involving and complex than a whole galaxy, and deserve more attention from G-d.
So, when coming to pray, don’t think about the G-d of the whole universe, who may be far from us. No. G-d’s attention is right here by every single one of us, counting every thought we have, measuring our character traits (generosity, devotion, piety, calmness, etc), busy with the most complex and entertaining entity in the universe – the human mind, heart and life.