Rabbi, do you really believe that the earth is the center of the universe?
Absolutely. And I’ll tell you why. The “center” means – what’s the most important place. That’s the center of the universe. There’s no other place in the universe that has life on it. Of course, NASA is wasting millions of dollars trying to get to planets to find life. But they won’t find life anywhere else. Life is only on this earth.
Sir John Eccles said that there are so many details necessary for the preservation of life, that it’s impossible that it should occur anywhere else. There are so many complicated factors and intricate details and life requires every single one of them. If one was missing then you couldn’t have life on this earth. And it is only on this earth that you’ll find life. And therefore this earth is where Hashem’s attention is mostly concentrated. That’s why this earth is the center of the universe. Who cares geographically where it is?! That’s not important at all!
I could tell you anyways that there’s no such thing as the geographical center. According to Einstein, the universe is in constant flux. There is no such thing as the center – it’s all moving. The sun is supposedly moving at 45,000 miles an hour. There’s no such thing as the center of the universe. And therefore the only criterion for centrality of the universe is what Hakodosh Boruch Hu considers most important. And Hakodosh Boruch Hu said, “Bereishis barah Elokim es ha’shamayim.” Shamayim means space. He made all of space. “V’es ha’aretz.” And He made this earth. This little tiny earth. He made the whole gigantic universe – and this little globe. It seems ridiculous. It’s like saying, “I came to visit New York City – and I went into a candy store to see the candy.” New York and a candy store?! The universe and the earth?! How can we compare the two in one posuk?!
The answer is that He created the universe but the entire universe is nothing because He created the universe just for this little earth. That’s what “V’es ha’aretz” means. And in the next posuk, “V’ha’aretz hai’sah…” Hashem ignores the universe entirely. Now it’s only this earth. From now on it’s only this earth that matters. And after a few parshas Hashem starts ignoring the earth and He talks only about Avraham Avinu. That’s all that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is interested in. And therefore, the question is, is Avraham Avinu the center of the world? Yes. Wherever he is, he’s the most important one. So the Jewish Nation – yes, we’re the center of the globe. Wherever the globe is in the universe and wherever we are on the globe – it makes no difference. Because wherever the Jews are, they’re at the center. So the Jews in Flatbush – they’re the center of the universe. The Jews in Boro Park – they’re the center of the universe. The Jews in Meah She’arim – they’re the center of the universe. Wherever the Jews are, they’re at the center. Because Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s shechina rests only upon them.
“Vi’shuchanti bi’soch Bnei Yisroel.” I will dwell among the Bnei Yisroel. And where Hashem dwells, that’s the center. Now, of course, Hashem is supervising everything. Everything! It’s all going according to his masterplan. But where is the place where Hakodosh Boruch Hu puts his finger and says, “That’s my place”? Only among the Bnei Yisroel. “Vi’shuchanti bi’soch Bnei Yisroel.”