Friday, September 15, 2017

The Dreaded Question

The purpose of this blog is to bring some color to the Shabbat table. Please print and share, or forward or...

Last week's hurricane post (if you got past the dad-jokes) made a surprise connection between hurricanes and Rosh Hashana.

This week begins with a question that our 11-year-old daughter asked me last night.
She asked the Dreaded Question.

It's that question that parents know is coming sooner or later and hope that it will be later rather than sooner.

Some parents are pro-active and don't wait until they're asked.

But many parents put it off as long as possible.

On any other subject, we're the experts we have all the answers.

But when this one comes up - especially when we're not expecting it - it catches us tongue-tied.

The question I'm referring to of course is:

"Abba, why is the sky blue?"

Try asking that one at your table. How many people can answer it?

How many think they can answer it, but when you press them on it, they clearly don't understand?

How many are willing to admit, they really have no idea?

So to save you from any further awkwardness, here's your "blue sky for dummies" crib notes:

Sunlight looks white, but it is actually made from a mixture of colors (like a rainbow). See (picture above) how each color has a different wavelength?

This white sunlight travels super fast — it leaves the sun at 186,000 miles per second, racing towards us across 93 million miles of space.

But just before it reaches us it crashes into something — can you guess what? The atmosphere! When it hits those tiny molecules of air, the shortest wavelengths don’t make it through – they bounce off those air molecules and scatter, like rain splashing off your windshield. Look at the diagram: What color has the shortest wavelength? Blue! The air is just dense enough to scatter some of the blue, causing the sky to look blue.

Did you get it?

Let's see: If you were on the moon, where there is no air, what color would the sky be?

Here's a trickier one - How does this knowledge explain why sunsets are so beautiful?

(As the sun gets lower and lower, that sunlight has to pass through more and more atmosphere; so more wavelengths get filtered: first green, making the sun look more yellow; then yellow, making it look more orange; then finally the orange, leaving only the red. Sunrise is the opposite – it’s getting higher and higher, red to orange to yellow.)

Last question for your table: What does this topic have to do with Rosh Hashana?

The best way that I know to experience Rosh Hashana is to hear the shofar and concentrate on the end of the year - not concrete resolutions but a bigger picture vision of what kind of person you want to become - you know you can become - in the next 12 months.

If you'd like this year's edition of our "Questions to think about from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur", shoot me an email. Or our "Significant Omens for Rosh Hashana". Or anything else.

As the year ends, I know that I haven't pleased all the people all the time, but I hope that I've pleased all the people some of the time. If any of my missives fell short for you, please forgive me.

Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy, connected and uplifting 5778!

Shabbat Shalom

L'Shana Tova — May you be written and sealed in the Book of Life!

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