Five years from now, the light from the ancient collision of two stars will reveal a brand-new star in the night sky. According to Jewish esoteric sources, this is precisely the celestial phenomenon which will accompany the arrival of the Messiah.
The new star, expected to appear in 2022 in a blaze of light called a nova, will be the brightest heavenly body visible in the nighttime sky for six months. It will be the first time in recorded history that a celestial event of this kind will be witnessed by the naked eye.
Beyond its scientific uniqueness, the appearance of the new star could have much bigger implications for the earth-bound, one prominent rabbi told Breaking Israel News, pointing to a Biblical prophecy of Balaam which hails the appearance of a new star as the precursor to Messiah.
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh; there shall step forth a star out of Yakov, and a scepter shall rise out of Yisrael, and shall smite through the corners of Moab, and break down all the sons of Seth. Numbers 24:17
Rabbi Yosef Berger, rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, cited Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, known by the acronym Rambam, the foremost Torah authority of the 12th century, whose rulings are still used as the basis for much of Jewish law.
“The Rambam brings this verse about a star appearing as proof that the Messiah will come one day,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News. “But he says it will come from Jacob, and not from Esau. More specifically, from the tribe of Judah.”
Even more incredibly, the Zohar, the foundational work of Jewish mysticism predicts, in detail, the color and type of stars which will appear. “The Zohar states explicitly that the Messianic process will be accompanied by several stars appearing. The Zohar goes into great depth, describing how many stars, and which colors they will be,” Rabbi Berger explained.
The new star, announced last week by Larry Molnar, a professor of astronomy at Calvin College in Michigan, will certainly be unusual. It is a binary star, or two stars orbiting a central point. Molnar described it as “two peanuts sharing a single shell.”
In his observations, Molnar noted that the orbital period was decreasing at an accelerating rate, leading him to understand that the two stars were moving closer to each other. Based on a previous case of binary stars, Molnar predicted the two stars stars would collide in 2022, resulting in a massive explosion.
“[The collision] will release as much energy as the sun releases in its entire lifetime,” Molar said in a video about the discovery.
When the two finally collide, it will create a new star, a red nova. The star’s brightness will increase ten-thousandfold, making it one of the brightest points in the heavens for six months, after which it will fade and remain as a smaller dot in the sky. It will be the first time in history that the creation of a new star will be visible with the naked eye.
“It’s a one-in-a-million chance that you can predict an explosion,” Molnar said. “It’s never been done before.”
Ira Machefsky, an amateur astronomer with 60 years of experience who runs stargazing tours in Mizpeh Ramon, a town perched on a huge crater in the Negev desert, has been following the story closely. He described the delicate balance between science and faith to Breaking Israel News.
“The Heavens, especially unique phenomena like this nova, are a manifestation of God’s intellect. But this has to be understood in a specific manner in Judaism,” Machefsky warned. “Astronomy and astrology are prominent in Jewish mysticism, since God works through nature. But at the same time, the term for pagan idol worship is avodat cochavim o’mazalot (serving stars and signs).”
Machefsky quoted the Talmud (Sukkoth 29a).
“Thus saith HaShem, ‘Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the nations are dismayed at them, the idolaters will be dismayed, but Israel will not be dismayed.’”
“According to Hasidic philosophy, the wellsprings of knowledge will be opened up in the times of the Moshiach (Messiah),” Machefsky said. “It is truly amazing that astronomers can predict this when just a few years ago we wouldn’t have known about this until the star suddenly appeared. Science has enabled us to share in God’s natural processes.”
For stargazers, the nova will be visible as part of the constellation Cygnus, adding a star to the Northern Cross star pattern. Though the nova will appear in a few years, the actual event took place 1,800 years ago. It has taken nearly two millennia for the light from the collision to reach earth.