Thursday, November 20, 2014

Parshat Toldot 5775 (Alex Hart)

The episode of Esav relinquishing his birthright has deep repercussions and bears revisiting.
Though the review is harsh, Robert Alter (The Art of Biblical Narrative, 1981) writes, “the episode makes clear that Esau is not spiritually fit to be the vehicle of divine election, the bearer of the birthright of Abraham’s seed. He is altogether too much the slave of the moment and of the body’s tyranny to become the progenitor of the people promised by divine covenant that it will have a vast historical destiny to fulfill. His selling of the birthright in the circumstances described here is in itself proof that he is not worthy to retain the birthright.”

A most damning review; the poor guy’s parched and famished, surely many of us would have struggled to rein in our emotions at that point? The midrash tells us that Esav had not just spent the morning singularly focused on the hunt but had had an action packed day, including murder and immorality.

Jacob has instinctive understanding of his brother as seen in his wording on approaching his father, Chapter 27, verse 20, in response to Isaac’s surprise to be presented with a meal so soon, “Because the Lord your G-d granted me good fortune.” Intertextually, we may be reminded of the wicked son’s words as they appear in the haggadah, ‘What is this service to you? To you and not to himself.’ He holds G-d in contempt, providing clear distinction with his words, suggesting Esav too, were it to be him that spoke, has scant regard for the path Isaac has attempted to impart.
As we read the parsha, it becomes plain that the review is well-placed.
It is indicative that on three separate occasions, the Torah comments on the choice of Esav’s spouses, taken from the Hittite tribe.

26:34: ‘When Esau was forty years old, he took to wife Judith daughter of  Beeri the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite and they were a source of bitterness to Isaac and Rebekah.’
27: 46: ‘Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am disgusted with my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries a Hittite woman like these, from among the native women, what good will life be to me?”’
28: 8: ‘Esau realized that the Canaanite women displeased his father Isaac.’
We learn that the each word in the Torah has its place. Syntactically for emphasis, the Torah repeats words but rarely do we see three inclusions. It can only suggest that the Hittite culture was of such a nature as to be kept at arm’s length; proving unsettling to the soul.

Esav however is slow to catch on. In contrast, in Chayei Sarah Avraham was quick to understand the Hittite tribe. Not only does he ensure a firm financial transaction for the Cave of Machpelah, but also that his payment has Hittite witnesses (23:16).
Furthermore, in parshat Acharei Mot (Vayikra 18:24 – 25) we read that, in reference to the Hittites, G-d says, ‘…the nations that I am casting out before you defiled themselves. Thus the land became defiled…
 A word on Hittite laws:

“‘The husband, if he catches a man with his wife, is justified under Hittite law in killing them, but only in the heat of the moment.’ Clause 198 indicates that if he stops to think about it, he must bring the two before the king for the court’s decision. Interestingly, he cannot request that only one of the adulterers be killed. It’s an all or nothing decision. The king can override the angry husband’s decision and spare both.’” (Imparati, Fiorella. “Private Life Among the Hittites.” In Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, 1995.)

Knee-jerk reactions were perfectly permissible under Hittite Law.
As Jews, we hold ourselves to a higher standard; we should be thinking through the ramifications of our actions. As a light unto the nations, we can ill afford to be impulsive and instead consider the long term implications.

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch writes (Horev, Chukim, Chapter 67), “Do you wish to kill the Divine in you for a moment’s pleasure?

Isaac favored Esav because, ‘he had a taste for game’, literally, כי ציד בפיו, game was in his mouth, suggesting a running obsession. Rabbi Binyomin Forst (The Laws of Kashrut, 1999) writes, “Animal matter carries the nature of the animal and may be harmful to the spirit of man by influencing and strengthening his own animal traits.” The Zohar refers to eating as a ‘time of war’, when man, who rules over the animal kingdom, can sustain his soul and eating, more than any other mitzvah, can integrate these two opposing forces. The sages teach us that by injecting an element of Torah at each meal, we connect the two worlds. Yet it seems that Esav has no wish to subdue the animal within himself. 

Psalm 128 describes a family’s ideal table:
“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house;
Your sons like olive saplings around your table.”
The distinction in the text’s cadence between Esav’s ויאכל וישת ויקם וילך, “he ate and drank and he rose and went away” and that of the tehilim above, stand in stark contrast. The olive saplings take strength from the root of the father, whilst the wife as a vine, is interpreted by Malbim as follows, “though it stands in the innermost parts of the house, it raises its branches until it reaches the roof, and shades from there the entire house.” Both require nurture. (permit me a brief aside as I recall that beautiful home in Riverdale Ave, Dublin, named by my dear late Saba זצ"ל, ‘Carmeinu’ – our vineyard). In comparison, Esav lives for instant gratification, with neither integrity nor respect for that which preceded him and the Torah, in including his abhorrent behavior here in Toldot, serves as instructive for the next generations.

I consider the many occasions on which Neil and I sat at the same table growing up, each of us noting the mores along which life should be trodden. To quote Rav Hirsch on this your 37th birthday, כ״ח בְּחֶשְׁוָן, “And when you count days and months and years and engrave ‘one’ upon the tree of your life you are not acting capriciously; you have, that one day, one month or one year, really run through one period of your life and you now stand ready for a new period.” Happy Birthday.

Parshat Chayei Sara 5775 (Zev Ross)

Parshat Chayei Sarah begins with the passing of Sarah, at the age of 127 years. Avraham secures a burial site for Sarah by purchasing Maarat Hamachpelah from Ephron the Hittite. The text explicitly mentions that Avraham paid 400 silver shekels. The Gemara (Bava Metzia 87a) notes that each of Avraham’s shekels was actually 2500 ordinary shekels - and thus Avraham actually paid one million shekels to Ephron for the burial site. Immediately following the burial of Sarah, Avraham dispatches his loyal servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for Yitzchak. Eliezer establishes criteria for finding a wife for Yitzchak. When Eliezer goes to the well outside the city of Nachor, and Rivka offers him water and offers water to his camels, Eliezer is confident that Hashem has intervened to bring him the future wife of Yitzchak. He brings Rivka to meet Yitzchak and they fall in love and get married. Meanwhile, Avraham marries Ketura (or as Reb Yehuda explains - remarries Hagar) and has six more kids. Eventually he dies at age 175 years and is buried in Maarat Hamachpelah next to Sarah by Yishmael and Yitzchak.

Getting back to what happens by the well; Rivkah draws water for herself, her camels, Eliezer, and all ten of his camels. That's a lot of water and an extraordinary task for Rivka, and she eagerly performs these acts of chesed. While she performs these tasks so well, it is interesting to note that when Eliezer takes her to meet Yitzchak, she practically falls off her camel - vatipol me’al hagamal (Bereishit 24:64). If you read the English translation of Rashi for that pasuk, it says that she fell off her camel toward the ground, but didn't touch the ground. Wait, what? It turns out that she slipped on her camel, but stayed on. Doesn't that make more sense? Why would the same woman who so capably gave water to Eliezer and all his camels suddenly fall off her camel when she sees Yitzchak for the first time? Since Rashi didn't answer it for me, I had to figure it out for myself (what did I ever do to you, Rashi? :'( ). I think that Rivka found Yitzchak to be so handsome and attractive, that when she looked at him, she practically fell of her camel. Perhaps even more important however, was Yitzchak’s impression of Rivka. We read in the text that when Yitzchak brought Rivka into Sarah’s tent and loved Rivka, vayinachem Yitzchak acharei imo (Bereishit 24:67) - he was consoled/comforted regarding the loss of his mother. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch in his commentary on this pasuk remarks that ‘nothing more glorious has ever been said’. Ramban maintains that Yitzchak loved Rivka for her righteousness and good deeds and that these are the criteria on which the Torah bases the love between husband and wife.

May our acts of chesed and the righteousness of the Jewish people continue to enhance our relationships with each other and with HaShem.

Shabbat shalom!

Zev Ross

Friday, November 7, 2014

Parshat Vayeira 5775 (Rabbi Ari Leubitz)

15 Cheshvan 5775 / November 8, 2014
By: Rabbi Ari Leubitz

In this week’s Torah portion, we are introduced to Abraham, an iconoclast who shatters the idols of his father and brothers; a visionary who intuited ethical monotheism and most significantly, gives birth to our faith, which offers a road map for humanity to flourish. It is in large part because of Abraham that God desires to enter into a brit, a covenant, with him and his progeny, the Jewish people.  
After all of Abraham’s contributions to humanity, Abraham is set to receive the most splendid of honors: a one-on-one meeting with God. This was the moment that God showed his gratitude to Abraham, וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו  (and God appeared). And that’s it. It is left to our imagination to envision how awe-inspiring this experience must have been for Abraham because --the Torah is Silent.  
  • Why are there so many verses in this week’s Torah reading that detail the hospitality of Abraham, while God’s Divine revelation stands in isolation?
  • What makes Abraham depart from the presence of God, without leaving an inspirational message for us on this climax of his spiritual journey?   

Having a God experience, a spiritual moment, or feeling God’s presence can often be just another way we indulge our own desires. Some people long to have material wealth, while others prefer spiritual riches. Both can be forms of satisfying our desires.
However, unlike a God encounter, a relationship with God fills a person with a profound sense of "responsibility.” Accountable people are "able" to "respond.” Such people are aware of themselves and those around them. Entering into a relationship with God increases the love and sensitivity towards the needs of others.
Increasing our sensitivity to the needs of others is the difference between a God encounter and a God relationship. Martin Buber - a 19th century Austrian-born Israeli Jewish philosopher - tells a personal story about how he became more attuned to the needs of others, an event which served as the catalyst for his spiritual ambitions.
One day while Buber was absorbed in a mystifying God experience, he heard a knock at his door. Tearing himself away from his spiritual ecstasy, he opened the door. There stood a stranger, who obviously wished to be invited in. Although Buber did usher the man inside, the stranger sensed that he had come at an awkward time.  Feeling uncomfortable, he was unable to communicate to Buber, so he apologized for disturbing him and quickly departed. Some time later, Buber heard that a tragedy befell this man. He realized that this man had come to him with something pressing on his mind. Buber admitted that he really was not there for this troubled man because he was absorbed and entranced in a God experience. This painful realization helped Buber discover the sharp difference between having a God experience and being in a relationship with God.
The Torah demonstrates this when Avraham is sitting outdoors by his tent when God approaches him. At the same time he realizes there are three “men” approaching. He interrupts his meeting with God to run to invite the men to stop for a little respite and prepares a banquet.
Responsible people - like Abraham - are those who are "able" to "respond.” The ability to respond to the needs of others is God's gift to humanity. The power of covenant is expressed when we become God's partner in caring for this world and each other.
Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Ari Leubitz
Head of School, Oakland Hebrew Day School

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Parshat Lech Lecha 5775 (Michal Kohane)

Lech Lecha

             עשרה נסיונות נתנסה אברהם אבינו עליו השלום ועמד בכולם להודיע כמה חיבתו של אברהם אבינו עליו השלום

“With ten tests our father Abraham was tested” - The rabbis in Pirkei Avot (5:3) tell that – “and he withstood them all--in order to make known how great was our father Abraham's love [for G-d]”.

The “tests” aim to answer some questions (why did G-d choose Abraham; why does it say that “G-d tested Abraham” (Genesis 22:1)) and leave many more unanswered (there is no agreement on what exactly are the ten tests; we struggle to explain why would G-d “test” anyone, let alone Abraham), but they do all agree that the last one was the akeida.
After the akeda G-d doesn’t speak to Abraham again. Some say that this is because Abraham failed, and G-d doesn’t want anything to do with those who are willing to sacrifice their children; and others says that Abraham passed all the tests with flying colors, and therefore, G-d didn’t need to give him anymore instructions. 

I would like to offer a third option.

We’re used to thinking that the first time we hear about Abraham’s life is in the opening verses of this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, but that is no so. Abraham is introduced at the end of last week’s parasha, Noah (Genesis 11:26-32. There is no “Action” and not much is told except for who are the main relatives in his family (all information we will soon need) so we tend to ignore it, but one detail should especially stand out: his marriage to Sarah. Indeed, the last time G-d speaks to Abraham is at the akeida, which coincides with Sarah’s death.

Thus, G-d never speaks to Abraham without Sarah.

In my metaphor, Abraham and Sarah can be likened to a radio and antenna. He might be the one doing all the talking, but without the antenna, there is no reception at all. Alternatively, he might be like paint and she - like the canvas. He can be colorful and active, but without a good surface, he won’t be able to truly express who he is.
In the beginning of Lech Lecha, the Torah tells us: “And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came”. Rashi explains that the “soul they made (or - had gotten)” are people they converted: Abraham teaching the men, and Sarah - teaching the women”.

Abraham and Sarah provide a unique model. To each other, they are family relatives, husband and wife, and parents. But as we know, those are challenged again and again. Ultimately, Abraham will have another wife and more children. But what makes them so successful is their joint spiritual, life-long mission and their complementary work towards it. That is what gives it so much of its power and drive, which is expressed in G-d speaking with them, starting with lech lecha.
Shabbat Shalom.

Michal’s blog can be found at

Monday, October 20, 2014

Parshat Noach 5775 (Neska)

In Honor of My Brother Michael, zt'L

And Noach stretched out his hand (v'yishlach yado) for the dove to bring it into the ark.   For me, one of the most beautiful gracious humane compassionate human gestures in the Chumash. 

And in the Akeida:

And Avraham stretched out THE *his*  hand (v'yishlach Avraham ET yado) for the knife.   1.  Had Avraham moved the knife so far away from him that he had to stretch his hand to grab it, to do something he didn't want to do?   Or was this the same hand that Noach had used for a humane purpose, now reaching out to take a life.  

Some sages state that Avraham is Noach reincarnated.   At that moment, did Avraham have a cosmic realization that this very same hand that was now reaching for the knife had once reached for the dove?  Yet another lesson that what Hashem has given us can be used for the positive or for the negative.  

May we all enjoy a life affirming Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Parsha Bereshit - October 18, 2014 (Barry Waldman)


Barry Waldman
(based on the writings and shiurim of Rav Matis Weinberg,

In this week’s parsha, both Kayin and Hevel present offerings to G-d. Hevel’s is accepted and Kayin’s is rejected.  This confuses and annoys Kayin exceedingly:
“He thought to himself:  ‘I sacrificed first, and my offering should have been accepted first.’” (Tzror HaMor)
Chazal, however, were sensitive to the subtle differences in the descriptions of the sacrifices offered:
Kayin: “brought an offering to Hashem of the fruit of the ground.”
Hevel: “he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and from their choicest.”
Whereas Hevel brought the best of what he had, and no such mention is attached to Kayin’s offering, Rashi follows the midrash and deduces that Kayin’s was rejected because he brought inferior produce:
            “of the fruit of the ground” – from the poorest
But Rashi offers an alternative explanation that does not appear in most editions (though a similar explanation can be found in the Rome ed. 1470):
“of the fruit” – From whatever came to his hand, not the best and not the choicest.”
The difference between these two Rashis is subtle.  Yet, understanding this difference – and, indeed, the nature of subtlety itself – yields deep insights into the essence of man’s avodah, his life’s work and purpose on earth.
Our exploration begins with the observation that many words and phrases from the story of Kayin and Hevel are echoed in one other parsha – Korach:


Kayin was the first whose “face fell” in response to sin:
Bereishis 4:6 - וְלָמָּה נָפְלוּ פָנֶיךָ
Moshe and Aaron “fall on their faces” numerous times in response to the sin of Korach and company – for example:
Bamidbar 16:4 - וַיִּשְׁמַע מֹשֶׁה, וַיִּפֹּל עַל-פָּנָיו
Kayin “rose up” against his brother: וַיָּקָם קַיִן אֶל-הֶבֶל
Just as Korach and company “rose up” against Moshe: וַיָּקֻמוּ לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה
Kayin is told that sin crouches at the “door”:
Bereishis 4:7 - לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ
In Korach, the sinners Datan and Aviram stand at the “door”:
Bamidbar 16:27 - וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם יָצְאוּ נִצָּבִים, פֶּתַח אָהֳלֵיהֶם
Kayin was very annoyed: וַיִּחַר לְקַיִן מְאֹד
And so was Moshe: וַיִּחַר לְמֹשֶׁה מְאֹד
Moshe tells Hashem to turn away from Korach’s “offering”:
Bamdibar 16:15 - אַל-תֵּפֶן אֶל-מִנְחָתָם
It seems odd that Moshe refers to Korach’s ketoret offering as a “mincha” – but could this be an illusion to Kayin’s mincha to which G-d did also not turn?
וְאֶל-קַיִן וְאֶל-מִנְחָתוֹ, לֹא שָׁעָה
The earth opens its mouth to receive Hevel’s blood:
וְעַתָּה, אָרוּר אָתָּה, מִן-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר פָּצְתָה אֶת-פִּיהָ, לָקַחַת אֶת-דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ מִיָּדֶךָ
And the earth opens its mouth to swallow Korach and company:
וְאִם-בְּרִיאָה יִבְרָא יְהוָה, וּפָצְתָה הָאֲדָמָה אֶת-פִּיהָ וּבָלְעָה אֹתָם
Hevel brought the “first” and “best” of his flocks as an offering to Hashem: 
וְהֶבֶל הֵבִיא גַם-הוּא מִבְּכֹרוֹת צֹאנוֹ, וּמֵחֶלְבֵה
The gifts given to the Kohen, as described at the end of parsha Korach, are the “best” of the oil and the wine, and the “first” of the fruits:
כֹּל חֵלֶב יִצְהָר, וְכָל-חֵלֶב תִּירוֹשׁ
בִּכּוּרֵי כָּל-אֲשֶׁר בְּאַרְצָם

The second of R. Yishmael’s 13 rules by which the Torah is elucidated reads: “similar words in different contexts are meant to clarify one another.”  Rabbi David Fohrman uses the analogy of binocular vision to describe how two separate sections of Torah can provide a “depth perception” that would be lacking if each were viewed independently (shiur on Unataneh Tokef  Thus, the many linguistic parallels between the story of Kayin and Hevel and parsha Korach are an indication that they are meant to be studied together in order to focus on deeper insights that would be missed otherwise.
A key linkage between the two parshas can be found in a midrash that depicts the primal argument between Kayin and Hevel as a struggle for the kehuna, over who would serve in the Beit HaMikdash:
But about what did they quarrel? One said, “The Temple must be built in my area,” while the other claimed, “It must be built in mine.” (Bereishis Rabbah 22:7 )
Korach, too, tried to wrest the priesthood from Aharon.  He did so by asserting:
“For the entire assembly – all of them – are holy and Hashem is among them.  Why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of Hashem?”
Ironically, in this bid for the kehuna, Korach exposes himself as the “anti-kohen.”  He presents holiness as generic – the exact opposite of kedusha. By definition, kedusha requires distinguishing one entity from another, separating it for a dedicated purpose.  Thus, holiness is an exercise in havdalah, just as we do at the conclusion of Shabbat: 
Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who separates (hamavdil) between holy and secular, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh and six days of labor…
Moreover, the holiness of the Kohen is derived from this fundamental havdalah intrinsic within Ma’aseh Bereishis:
“And he spoke unto Korach…in the morning.”  What reason had he for saying, “in the morning?”  Moses said to them:  the Holy One, Blessed be He, has assigned certain boundaries in His world.  Can you, for example, fuse day and night?  Scripture, in reference to this, says at the very beginning, “And there was evening and there was morning,”  “And God divided the light from the darkness” in order that it might be of service to this world.  And just as He divided the light from the darkness in order that it might of service to the world, so He separated Israel from the nations…In the same manner also He set Aaron apart; as it says, “And Aaron was separated, that he should be sanctified as most holy.” [Divrei Hayamim I 23:13] (Bamidbar Rabbah 18:7)
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the main function of the Kohen is:

“to differentiate (lehavdil) between the sacred and the profane, between the pure  and impure, and to rule [in Torah]…” (Vayikra 10:10)

Parsha Bereshit - October 18, 2014 (Joel Ackerman)

24 Tishrei 5775 / October 18, 2014
By: Joel Ackerman
Bereshit 2014
            Ages ago, at another time and place, in a far distant galaxy, I was serving as gabbai in another East Bay congregation that used the Stone Chumash.   I announced the page number for this parasha by saying “I would like to tell you that this parasha begins on page 1, but I can’t.  It begins on page 2.”
            Our sages have said, many times, that one can learn from all aspects of the Torah, even from empty spaces.  So what can one learn from the fact that there is nothing on page 1 of our Chumash? [Yes, I do know that the text of many of our works, including the Talmud, begin on page 2, which is supposedly a printer’s convention, but why should that prevent me from trying to learn something from the fact that page 1 of the Chumash is blank?]
I suggest that the blank page 1 of the Chumash could teach us that before or during the creation of our world, G-d could have been carrying out some other works of creation, the nature of which is not described in the Torah.  I suggest that He could have created other worlds, with other intelligent beings. After all, the Torah, being directed to us humans, is necessarily Terra-centric.  This parasha describes the creation of our world – the planet we live on and other items in our world such as the sun, moon and stars.              It was given to our ancestors, in times when it was not known that other planets existed.   The stars were simply fixtures in our heavens.  We should not really expect it to speak of other worlds, other intelligent beings.
            We certainly cannot believe that G-d is incapable of doing this.  Remember what He said to the prophet Jeremiah:  “Hineh, ani Adonai Eloheh col-basar, hamimeni yifaleh col-davar?”  (“Behold, I am the Lord, the G-d of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?”)   And there is nothing that I could find in the Torah that negates the above idea.    Indeed, why should we humans be the only intelligent beings that He created?  (Note that a number of books appeared in the 1980s asserting that in fact our planet had been visited and contacted numerous times by other intelligent beings (“aliens”), citing, among others, the Merhava vision of the prophet Ezekiel as an attempt to describe a visit by such beings in terms that a human of those days might be able to express.)
            All right, you say, perhaps G-d did create other worlds with other intelligent beings.  After all, our scientists have discovered that many stars have planets and that some of these planets appear to have conditions somewhat similar to our own, so that conditions for the development of intelligent life as we know it seem to exist elsewhere than on Earth.  And there is no reason to believe that the conditions on our planet are the only ones that could support intelligent life.   Why couldn’t other intelligent beings be able to breathe different atmospheres than we, live under different pressures than we, be primarily water-dwellers rather than land-dwellers, etc?
            All well and good, you say, but this is a mini-drash, not some miscellaneous opinion piece based on nothing but pure imagination!    As they say, where’s the beef?  In other words, where’s the proof-text?
            Well, I have to admit that I don’t know of any text that definitely supports this concept.  Some years ago, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote a short piece on this question.  He cited several possible sources for the concept, but none of them clearly or definitively support it.  So I don’t have an authoritative proof-text.
            However, I do have some text that reinforces this concept.  It’s from the Rosh Hashanah machzor, a part that deals with the nature of the kingship of G-d:
            “Elohenu v’eloheh avotenu, m’loch al col ha-olam culo bichvodecha v’hinaseh al col ha’aretz biyarkecha, v’hofa bachadar ge’on uzecha, al col yoshvei artzecha.”
            “Our G-d and G-d of our forefathers, reign over the entire universe in Your glory, be exalted over all the world, in Your splendor, reveal Yourself in the majestic grandeur of Your strength over all the dwellers of Your inhabited world.”
            The text distinguishes between G-d as ruler of the entire universe (ha’olam) and ruler of our world (ha’aretz).    The machzor states several times that here on earth, all of His creations (man and animal, at least) are to acknowledge His kingship.  And what about elsewhere in the universe?  The same.  “Reign over all the universe in Your glory”.
            We humans have been seeking for some years now, through powerful telescopes and the SETI (Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence) project, sending space vehicles and messages to other parts of the universe, hoping to contact other intelligent life.  So far, we have not been successful (although see the books written in the 1980s on visits by other beings).   Our sages have not really addressed the question of whether the universe contains intelligent life and, if it does, what it would be like.  Of course many of our other wise men, such as James Blish, James White, Isaac Asimov, Avram Davidson, and Poul Anderson (among many others) have considered this question and many of its implications, and you may wish to read some of their writings.
            And, of course, it’s interesting to speculate what such intelligent beings would be like.  Would they also believe that the universe was created by a Supreme Unique Being?    Would they have holy scriptures?  If so, would they resemble our Torah?  Would G-d have delivered to them the same messages as He gave us?  Did they receive something resembling the Ten Commandments?  Is there a group among them that corresponds to us Jews, with our mission?   Or, alternatively, will it be our mission to eventually venture into space, to carry the word of G-d to other sentient beings elsewhere in the universe?

            Enjoy your speculations.  Shabbat shalom.