As Jews around the world look to the heavens on Yom Kippur, four asteroids will fly by, unseen and the remains of another asteroid will drift past.
The asteroids 2022 SM21 and 2022 SO11 will pass by the earth on Tuesday night, the beginning of the Yom Kippur holiday. 2018 VG and 2022 SJ28 will make their passes the following day.
SM21, estimated to be anywhere between 9 and 20 meters in width, is expected to pass at a distance of 1.86 million kilometers while traveling at a speed of 54,252 kilometers per hour. 2022 SO11 is house-sized and will pass within 1.1 million kilometers of our planet. The next day, the bus-sized 2018 VG will pass within seven million kilometers of the earth. The 18-meter wide SJ28 will pass within 5.7 million kilometers of the earth.
It is also interesting to note that on September 26, the holiday of Rosh Hashana, NASA carried out its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. The DART mission used what is called the kinetic impactor technique which involves using a solar-powered electric propulsion system to smash the spacecraft into the asteroid in the hopes of deflecting it into a different trajectory, steering it away from the Earth’s orbital path.
After a ten-month journey, the NASA craft smashed into Dimorphos, a 170-meter across asteroid orbiting another slightly larger asteroid named Didymos. The impact generated a plume 10,000 kilometers long that is still visible to astronomers.
Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion,
“The asteroids by themselves are not alarming or even shocking,” the rabbi noted. “But they come in the context of a rather alarming year. Until a few years ago, troubles were localized. Wars were between two countries.”
“Every person in the world was touched by COVID,” the rabbi said. “For the first time in eighty years, war threatens to engulf the world and there are threats of nuclear weapons. We are beginning the year after the shemittah (sabbatical year). The sages tell us that this is when the Son of David comes. The Talmud states that wars increase in the year after shemittah.”
Rabbi Berger referred to the solar eclipse that transversed the continental United States in August 2017, the first in 99 years. Before the eclipse took place, Rabbi Berger cited a prophecy in a text titled the Yalkut Moshe (“Collection of Moses”) written by Rabbi Moshe ben Yisrael Benyamin in Safed in 1894. The eclipse took place precisely at the beginning of the Hebrew month Elul. The prophecy stated that when a solar eclipse occurs at the beginning of the month of Elul, “kings of the East will suffer great loss”. The Yalkut Moshe also stated that the solar eclipse presaged great storms.
When a lunar eclipse took place in July 2019, Rabbi Berger found a reference in the Yalkut Moshe making a similar prediction.
“When the moon is eclipsed in Tammuz, a king of ‘luazi’ [secular nations] will die suddenly and a great confusion will follow, leading to great problems,” the Yalkut Moshe wrote.
“The Queen of England passed recently, marking the beginning of the process predicted by the Yalkut Moshe,” Rabbi Berger said. “The events may seem disparate and disconnected to us but they are not. When a father wants to change his son’s behavior, he begins with warnings and gradually shows him that there are implications to bad behavior. The father will make the warnings gradually louder and more intense.”
“A few small asteroids are nothing to be concerned about,” Rabbi Berger said. “But coming on Yom Kippur after a year such as we experience, and after so many other omens, we should certainly pay attention. Just as a father gives many small hints before punishing his son, so too God is sending us many small hints.”
“On Yom Kippur, the heavens are open to our prayers and our tshuva (repentance),” Rabbi Berger said. “Now is the time to pray like never before.”