I strive to stay away from touchy topics, but they still don’t realize how committed I am to the fact that the Earth is a globe.
Meaning, it's not just my opinion, but something I know to be absolutely true.
Yes, I understand that they never really learned about Torah Judaism before and that they grew up this way.
(Actually, I grew up the same way—even worse! The society the older generation grew up in was at least respectful toward the idea of Earth as a round globe.)
Despite how much I understand them, it’s still frustrating to deal with their insistence that the Earth is flat.
And this goes for everyone else I encounter in the non-Torah world too.
One family member (brought up Jewish, always resented it, then found it he wasn't actually Jewish) showed up with his wife (a lapsed Catholic) and started talking about science.
During the conversation, I accidentally blurted out, “Right! And it’s just so amazing how the Ramban realized the Earth was a round globe when not all his non-Jewish constituents accepted this eight hundred years ago!”
Hostile silence met my enthusiasm.
I bit my lip and tried to smile. Oh drat. I forgot myself again.
It’s so hard living in two worlds at the same time—the fake flat world and the real round world.
Then he & his wife smirked at me as he jeered, “Well, personally, I don’t believe in God. I think science explains everything.”
He and his wife exchanged a look that clearly said She’s SUCH a stupid dweeb! before turning back to me with contemptuous smiles.
“Well,” I replied, reluctant to get into a useless confrontation, but wanting to gently introduce the truth nonetheless. “Actually, science does support the belief in God and a round world. Personally, I found it so much more enlightening to read the actual peer-reviewed science publications instead of just the science section of the New York Times....”
My voice trailed off as they looked straight into my eyes and sniggered.
Even though I know they're like this, I was still taken aback by their blatant contempt because I never treat them (or any of the other secular dissenters) in such a way. I'd be too embarrassed to treat them that way.
Ever the peacemaker, my aunt (who thinks she's Jewish but isn't) sang out, “Okay, everybody, let’s just respect all opinions! This IS a democracy, after all!”
This made me feel rebuked because I was the last one speaking, so it felt like she meant me. After all, she didn't say anything after their declarations of atheism and sniggering.
And I WAS speaking respectfully! It just wasn't a view they respect.
Later, a cousin took me aside and said, “Look, we’re all trying to be really open-minded around you, but you just can’t go around pushing your religious beliefs on others. I love you, but you need to respect other people’s beliefs, too. Tolerance is the key to getting along.”
"I need to respect the belief in a flat Earth?" I said.
"Yes," she said. "You don't have to agree, but you do need to respect it. That also means that you can't say anything about it that might offend us."
She’s frum, too, and a firm believer in a spherical Earth, so I thought she’d be sympathetic.
“Well, what did you expect?” she crowed. “You KNOW how they are! Why do you always get so upset about it? Why do you even bring it up with them?!”
“I didn’t mean to,” I said. “It just came out by accident. I got caught up in the topic and—"
“It’s YOOOOOUR FAULT!” she said. “I mean, what did you expect? You need to stop trying to change people!” She gave a huff. “Stop trying to insert words like ‘down’ and ‘up’ and ‘north’ and ‘hemisphere’ into conversations with them!”
“I’m not TRYING to insert those words,” I protested. “It just happens. It's hard to pretend all the time."
"And those EMAILS you write!" she said. "I mean, people just say ONE anti-Torah word and you write them a whole megillah! Why do you have to make such a big deal about it?"
"Because," I said, "in order to explain why it's wrong for them to correct me when I say 'down under' or 'hemisphere,' I need to go into all these proofs about the curvature of the Earth—and word everything in the nicest, most inoffensive manner possible—and—"
"But NO ONE CARES! Why do get so worked up?"
"Why are YOU getting so worked up about me getting worked up?" I countered.
Then an old completely assimilated Jewish friend stopped by.
We’d been best friends since junior high and had stayed in touch even after I’d become frum. She was excited about her upcoming trip to Australia.
Caught up in her enthusiasm, I forgot myself again. “So when exactly are you heading Down Under? It's always so cool to travel to the Southern Hemisphere because the seasons are the exact opposite—oops.”
Her face stiffened and she pulled back.
“Er,” I said, “I mean, TO Australia. You know, down TO Australia—oh, not ‘down’—I meant—"
“Over,” she said, stiffly. “Nothing to do with spheres—'hemi' or otherwise. I’m heading OVER to Australia.”
I understood that "under" (as in "Down Under") meant something completely different to her in her flat world delusion than it did to me as a knower of our spherical existence.
I tried to gently explain to her the science behind my position of the Earth being round and not flat, but her hostile, unreceptive body language and stony facial expression caused my words to end up trailing off into silence.
Some contributors even supported Oddball Orthodoxy’s petition to accept Flat-Earthers into the frum rabbinate.
Exasperated, I wrote the following comment:
It just doesn’t work. There is no reconciliation.
Fact: The Earth is NOT flat.
Fact: There is NO massive body of water surrounding the continents with an outer boundary of a gargantuan ice wall to keep the water from spilling off the edge.
Fact: There is a mountain of scientific evidence (from ancient archeological pictographs to thousands of actual photographs from NASA) that clearly indicate a GLOBE-SHAPED Earth.
I think we should just focus on getting the truth out there—or at the very least, sticking to our own guns.
Even if it’s only offered as one sugar-sweetened spoonful at a time, the truth is the only way to go.
BTW, why do WE always have to tiptoe around Flat Earther views? Why can’t they be considerate of ours?
But the replies I received? Oh, gosh....
MR, you sound very angry. And please be aware that ALL CAPS is the same as yelling.
MR, the fact is that a tremendous amount of water exists all over the place (i.e., oceans, seas, etc.) along with massive ice walls at the poles.
Furthermore, from where we're standing...the world actually DOES look FLAT.
This is incontrovertible: The world LOOKS flat. It FEELS flat.
(I mean, except for mountains, hills, valleys, and canyons, and all that. But you know what I mean—all that seems to exist on a FLAT earth. Our world simply does not feel or look like a globe.)
This needs to be addressed and, quite frankly, why is that our Gedolim don’t ever tackle this issue?
Unfortunately, when people bring up Flat Earth theory to them, the Gedolim usually just look perplexed or chuckle—or both. At the most, they make statements like, “The Earth is definitely a globe.”
But they don’t explain WHY the Earth is round, or how that happened!
When asked for further elucidation, they merely encourage us to just look into the Torah.
But many people need more than that.
And I’m sorry, but directing people to NASA photos and pro-globe science articles?
That falls in the same category—it simply isn’t enough.
We say it's a round globe and they say it's a round disc.
Yes, a disc is flat, but it's round, too.
Personally, I go with the Intelligent Design theory, which describes how the world started off like a flat disc, but then HKBH just puffed it up via geological "nostrils," forming it into the globe it is today.
There is a remez to this in Bereishes 2:7 when it says that HKBH breathed into Adam Harishon's nostrils the "nishmas chaim" and Adam Harishon became a "nefesh chayah."
This could certainly indicate He puffed up the Earth too.
That's really fascinating, AYidThatMakesYouGoHuh! Does anyone say where the Earth's "nostrils" were?
No one's really sure, yogamama, but they think it might have happened via the caldera in Yosemite National Park or via a series of massive sinkholes, which are actually what killed off the dinosaurs, as hinted in Parshas Korach.
mr, its frum peopel like u turnd me off Yidishkite w/ ur narow vewz. u h8 EVrybody.
WHOAAAA! This thread is getting cantankerous! Where are the moderators????
FYI: Rabbi Wallerstrong gave a shiur on this and people walked out.
Also, I heard he got a LOT of nasty emails.
And he agreed to do a robocall that encouraged the frum community to support the only candidate who acknowledges that the Earth is a globe. What's more, this robocall incident made into the New York Times—and NOT in a good way.
Astoundingly, the rabbi openly admitted he knew nothing else about the anti-Flat Earth candidate, other than that candidate strongly posits a belief in a globe-shaped Earth.
Personally, I think it was a chilul Hashem.
Maybe she could give me chizuk.
But she frowned at me in puzzlement, then said, “Well, we have to understand them. They didn’t grow up with Torah.”
“I know,” I said. “I didn’t either.”
She looked rattled by that, then got hold of herself & said, “Yes, but you can’t judge them. Hashem brought you to the emes, and not them—well, at least not yet, anyway. Do you daven for them?”
“Yes, of course,” I hurried to reassure her. “But I just feel like I can’t deal with this hypocrisy and craziness anymore. All the time, I'm trying to remember the right obfuscations or straining not to say anything no matter how insane their views are…I just hate it.”
Her eyes widened. “Hate?” she said. “Oh no...but don’t you feel SORRY for them?”
“Um, kind of…” I said. “But right now, I’m just feeling frustrated and kind of angry.”
Her eyes widened as she leaned back from me as if I'd suddenly come down with a particularly contagious form of sinat chinam.
“But don’t you realize it’s SUCH a rachmanus that they don’t know?" she said. "Nebbuch, they deserve our pity and compassion.”
“Yes,” I said, “but what do I do about—"
“Just work on your ahavas Yisroel and your compassion,” she said, giving my arm a pat before moving on to the next attendee.
Finally, I called about another friend who also suffers from Flat-Earther Frustration.
“Of course dealing with Flat Earthers gets you down—it drives me batty, too!" she said. "Just stuff ‘em! They’re all just totally bonkers! And the whole world is bonkers, too, but thank God, you aren’t. Hashem’s on your side—stick with Him and don't give up!”
And finally, I felt better.