What color should the ocean be? Scientists and Jewish mystics offer answers

Speak unto B’nei Yisrael, and bid them that they make them throughout their generations fringes in the corners of their garments, and that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue.




(the israel bible)

January 30, 2023

4 min read

A group of Israeli scientists recently announced that they believe that they have solved a mystery about the color of the oceans. For centuries, this topic has been examined by Jewish mystics and some of them have predicted that the color would change in order to usher in the Messianic era and the Third Temple.

In the 1970s, when scientists analyzed data from the first meteorological satellites, they were perplexed to see that the northern and southern hemispheres looked equally as bright. Both hemispheres reflected the same amount of solar radiation, a feature known as albedo. They expected the southern hemisphere to be darker as it contains far more oceans and should have appeared darker in color. The Northern Hemisphere, with twice the land area, should have appeared much brighter than the ocean-filled southern hemisphere. 

Indeed, when measuring albedo near the surface of the Earth when the skies were clear, they observed a difference of more than 10 percent between hemispheres. Yet from space, both hemispheres appeared to be equally bright. 

For years, the brightness symmetry between the hemispheres remained a scientific mystery.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by the Weizmann Institute of Science researchers led by Prof. Yohai Kaspi and Or Hadas of Weizmann’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department suggests a possible cause. The researchers found a correlation between storm intensity, cloudiness, and the solar energy reflection rate in each hemisphere. 

The team analyzed data derived from the world’s most advanced global weather databases dating back 70 years, cross-correlating information on the intensity of cyclones and anticyclones. They classified storms of the last 50 years into three categories based on intensity. 

They discovered a direct link between storm intensity and the number of clouds forming around the storm. The Southern Hemisphere is stormier and with a stronger jet stream and more extreme weather events, compared with the Northern Hemisphere. Storms in the northern hemisphere were typically weaker whereas storms in the southern hemisphere were moderate to strong. 

This correlated to the presence of more clouds in the southern hemisphere.

“Cloud albedo arising from strong storms above the Southern Hemisphere was found to be a high-precision offsetting agent to the large land area in the Northern Hemisphere, and thus symmetry is preserved,” said Hadas. “This suggests that storms are the linking factor between the brightness of Earth’s surface and that of clouds, solving the symmetry mystery.”

The scientists applied this theory to a predictive model based on rising temperatures due to climate change. This gave them a result that predicted decreased frequency of all storms above the Northern Hemisphere and of the weak and moderate storms above the Southern Hemisphere. But they also predicted that the strongest storms of the Southern Hemisphere will intensify. This was based on a theory of Arctic Amplification in which the North Pole warms twice as fast as Earth’s mean warming rate.

The researchers are still unsure whether this will lead to a change in the symmetrical albedos but it may lessen the cloudiness of the southern hemisphere, thereby making it darker when viewed from space. 

Despite Jerusalem being landlocked, according to the Jewish tradition, the color of the oceans is integrally connected to the Temple. The Talmud explains this connection:

Rabbi Meir asked ‘Why is blue different from all other colors?’ and then answered, ‘Because blue resembles the sea, and the sea resembles sky, and the sky resembles God’s Throne of Glory”

The Talmud cited the Bible as the source:

Above the expanse over their heads was the semblance of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and on top, upon this semblance of a throne, Ezekiel 1:26

Rabbi Yekutiel Fish,  an expert in Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) who blogs in Hebrew under the title ‘Sod Chashmal,’ connected the oceanic transformation with a specific object: the thread of blue, woven into the fringes of tzitzit (Biblically mandated four-cornered garment).

Speak unto B’nei Yisrael, and bid them that they make them throughout their generations fringes in the corners of their garments, and that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue. Numbers 15:38

“The AriZal noted that the mitzvah (Torah commandment) of putting a thread of blue in our tzitzit (four-cornered garment) will return coincidentally with the Messiah,” Rabbi Fish told Israel365 News. He noted that many of the priestly garments used in the Temple utilized the tekhelet dye in their design. “It may be that in order for this mitzvah to return, God is changing the color of the ocean to reintroduce the color into the world, a color that has not been seen since the Temple was destroyed.”

“This phenomenon needs to be understood, Rabbi Fish said. “The tzitzit is a reminder of the mitzvot (Torah commandments). If the color of the ocean changes to more closely resemble the original techelet, then people will be reminded of the mitzvot, or the heavens, and of the Throne of Glory. This is certainly necessary to bring the Moshiach (Messiah).”

Rabbi Fish noted that understanding God is also integrally connected with the ocean.

For the land shall be filled with the knowledge of Hashem as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:9

“If the color of the oceans turns dark blue, a person could understand this as being indicative of a process in motion that is leading to a greater revelation of God’s throne, which is symbolic of His aspect of kingship,” Rabbi Fish said. “This all ties together since in the days of the Messiah, God will be universally recognized as King as has been prophesied.”

And Hashem shall be king over all the earth; in that day Hashem will be One [universally recognized] and His name One. Zechariah 14:9

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