Above the Sun

Question

Dear Rabbi, what on earth was the wisest of the wise thinking when he said, “There’s nothing new under the sun?” I wonder if King Solomon would have said the same thing if he had the Internet! Thanks

4 months

Answers

  1. “There is nothing new under the sun.” This is a teaching from someone who has historically been called the wisest of all people. At first glance, this bold statement is enigmatic. Anyone who looks around sees that many household consumer products announce that they are “New!” or “New and Improved!” And, as you ask: What about all the new technologies that have made life easier and enhanced?

    And let us take what receive from the sun as an example. Renewable and green “solar energy,” captured in special panels using modern technology, are clearly new. Isn’t this a clear example of something new that is quite literally “ “under the sun”?

    Rather, we need to correctly understand King Solomon’s words. They mean that in the physical world nothing is created “new.” There is no creation ex nihilo — something out of nothing. There is only the transfer of energy and the reassembling of parts to form “new” items that were previously not around in their present form.

    In this sense, all of “modern technology” has always existed. When God created the physical universe, smart phones, supercomputers, space travel and even the Internet came into existence — as we know them now in their present component parts. It was only up to us to figure out how to put them together.

    Real renewal is a concept that exists only in the spiritual world, in a truly eternal and existential sense. As we are taught in Jewish sources, “Above the sun there is renewal.” Every person has the power of free will, to choose between right and wrong. With this “power” a person can create a spiritual reality that was not preordained and not merely a continuation of an already-started process.

    A person who performs an altruistic deed of choosing right over wrong is bringing into existence “something new” — a new and pure piece of Creation and is contributing to all that is good in the world — especially in one’s own individual and precious life.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team