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New Heavens and a New EarthThe Jewish Reception of Copernican Thought$
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Jeremy Brown

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199754793

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199754793.001.0001

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Relativity and Contemporary Jewish Geocentrists

Relativity and Contemporary Jewish Geocentrists

(p.254) 13 Relativity and Contemporary Jewish Geocentrists
New Heavens and a New Earth

Jeremy Brown

Oxford University Press

In the last chapter we meet some Jews who still found it impossible to accept the “new” astronomy of Copernicus, now over four hundred years old. The most famous of these was Menahem Mendel Schneerson, known as the Lubavicher Rebbe, who claimed that the Theory of Relativity implied that the geocentric model could be correct. Others Jewish ‘neo-geocentrists’ followed this example, including Shlomo Benizri, a former minister of Health in the Israeli government. In 2003 he published a book on the Jewish calendar in which he concluded that despite nearly five hundred years of scientific and astronomical evidence to the contrary, it is the sun that revolves around the Earth, and not the other way around, invoking again Einstein and his Theory of Relativity. After examining what it was that Einstein actually said about the heliocentric system, the chapter closes with an examination of how the system is treated in the contemporary world of ultra-orthodox (haredi) Jews. The evidence suggests that although the heliocentric model continues to be viewed with some suspicion by some, there is a steady, if hesitating trend, to accept it as the description of reality.

Keywords:   Menahem Schneerson, Lubavitch, Shlomo Benizri, geocentric model, Relativity, Einstein, ultra-orthodox Judaism, Haredi

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