Contact Us

Supernova!

Supernova!

 Email

I have always been fascinated by the supernova phenomenon. Ever since I first studied about these stellar explosions in primary school, I have been mesmerized by the drama surrounding the death of a star.

I remember befriending a lone star through my bedroom window. It was brighter than the others, and I watched it dance in the dark night sky for weeks on end. One night, I couldn't find it anymore. At eleven years old, I must have been a bit of a fantasist, because I decided it had erupted and died, and that night, I cried myself to sleep.

The last visible supernova in our galaxy actually dates back to October of 1604. Indeed, my imagination must have taken me a little too far. But looking back, I think I was simply struggling to understand what a star's death represented in my own little world.


We are taught that G‑d manifests Himself in nature and in man, and thus, the more we learn about our world, the more we really discover about ourselves and our G‑dly potential. We are likened to the moon in its ever-changing phases; to trees, needing sustenance to grow; to fire, yearning to connect higher; and even to oil, as we rise up and endure.

As I explore our world in an attempt to understand the journey of my soul, I find myself awed by the intensity of the supernova:

Stars of a large mass may end their lives in an incredibly catastrophic explosion that can be observed light years away. As the star explodes, chemical material created throughout the star's lifetime is blown off into space, eventually becoming part of new stars and planets. Not only does the debris create new life, but after eruption, the star's luminosity suddenly increases millions of times above its normal level.

I am drawn to this strange wonder of nature, where the concept of death so poignantly combines both intense tragedy and brilliant beauty. I am inspired by a darkness that gives birth to light; daunted by a death that creates new life.

In one pivotal moment, the star seems to be relating its life story: birth, growth, death, and even afterlife, fuse together in a strange and tragic way.

Perhaps, the star is also telling us another saga; the story of our very own souls.

Chassidic teaching discusses the concept of kasis lama'or - the idea of being crushed to reveal a greater light. To reach the core, to uncover our essence, sometimes, we need to be crushed. Like the supernova, it is painful; it is a tragedy, but it is the most beautiful experience on earth.

We all have our own personal supernovas. Moments when the world seems to tip us upside down, and leave us clinging to the edge of our galaxy. Moments when nothing seems to make any sense at all; when the nights are so dark, we fear giving up finding a ray of hope again. So the soul cries out, erupting in pain, and we watch, in horror, as our fortress falls and crumbles to the ground.

Something inside of us seems to die, but like the fiery star, it is only a temporary demise; a frozen moment in time.

And then, all at once, it is calm. A gentle wind blows, and a new day dawns. Crushed, and broken, we lift our weary heads to rise up again. Slowly, we stand, and lo and behold, we shine once more. Only this time, a thousand times brighter than before.

And amidst the dying embers, the shattered pieces of our soul have found a new home. We have not struggled in vain, for the strength gained through our most powerful challenges now fortifies us, building new life in uncharted territories.

Indeed, it is in the aftermath that we witness our greatest achievements.

Collectively, we are a nation of supernovas. The Jewish people have been exiled time and time again; we have been crushed, broken, and orphaned of our very homeland. And yet, each time we emerge with renewed vigor, stronger than ever before. As Mark Twain saw it, we ought to appear as "a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way," but somehow, we have endured for thousands of years as a blazing light unto the nations.

Perhaps, G‑d created the supernova phenomenon for us as an expression of true kasis lama'or in our physical world. What we must remember is that not only does a supernova remnant outshine its entire home galaxy, but that long after its destruction, the debris formed from the explosion continues to enrich interstellar space for eternity.

Yes, in the wake of tragedy, a thousand suns will shine.

Aeschylus, the Greek tragic dramatist, wisely said, "I know how men in exile feed on dreams of hope." Who, if not the Jew, has lived his life to the rhythm of this message? We have held on to a G‑dly promise; we are bound to a vision of everlasting redemption. Ours is a sacred dream of hope; a fulfillment of the prophecy, Darach kochav mi'Yaakov – "A star shall go forth from Jacob…" (Numbers 24:l7)

Sara Hecht is a freelance writer, composer and singer from Australia. To book Sara for a musical performance, visit sarahecht.com.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
11 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Sara Hecht March 29, 2009

What's really weird is that I googled my name and this came up. My name is Sara Hecht, though this isn't my work of course. I love astronomy though. I have a twin. O_O Reply

sy April 1, 2008

Sara you write such nice articles and its so true Reply

year 10 melbourne, vic January 8, 2008

we love you sara was our incredible counsellor in Camp Gan Yisroel Melbourne, 5768.
this article was read out to us by sara....there was not one dry eye....
sara you are our constant inspiration...continue sharing your beautiful soul with us....
thank you very much i'll see you soon
:) Reply

Corrie Fraiser August 12, 2007

Thank you Sara, I am touched by your words, how you so delicately animate the hidden teachings of the world we call home.
I don’t know you, but from what I have seen of your work both on this site as well as the newer women’s site, I feel that you are a passionate and deep person. A lover of life. An artist. A soul that rides the challenges of life with a strong and knowing heart. A believer in the Supernova.

Thank you Sara.
Keep sharing your beautiful soul with us. Reply

L.M. August 12, 2007

supernova! A "stellar" work of art!
Thanks again to this true and sensitive writer for the inspiration and joy she brings to the reader.
She allows us a view of a child's wonder and trust; her early interpretation, and later appreciation of life and loss, her meeting, struggle, and reconciliation with darkness and light in our world.
We can sense her own silent quest, her painstaking search for meaning, her drawing on the truths she'd been taught, and most of all, her reaching out to us, and sharing something very precious from her own journey.
Sara, may G-d bless you with much health, happiness, and success always! Reply

Leah August 10, 2007

Amazing article! Very well written and very deep....... Reply

bopman adair , ok August 8, 2007

supernova i live there...the thing that gets me thruogh it is I WILL REFINE YOU LIKE SILVER. in and out of the fire until the master sees his own reflection in the silver then ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,we are ready Reply

mcnearbabe August 8, 2007

wow... very nice... very apt...
thank you. Reply

AJ Huntsville, AL August 7, 2007

Beautifully written I am not surprised to find out that Sara Hecht is a lyricist. This article has a lovely ebb and flow to it, much like a song. Beautifully written. Thank you. Reply

Anonymous August 7, 2007

Supernova Sara,
i would just like to thank you for your beautifully written thoughts. They are more than words. Your message speaks to me. i appreciate your realizations and how from nature you took the star as a metaphor for one's life. Weaving a common thread thru nature...and a man's experiences of life is, in my opinion, a core intention of G-d's creations. 'The world is made every moment for me.' To truly feel this is to truly learn from every creation and integrate it in one's life. G-d made a 'world of art' -- it's for me to find the common strokes between us all!!
thank you Sara! Reply

Larry August 5, 2007

Amazing article. Reply

Related Topics