Alien Creatures

Now that traces of water have been discovered on Mars, I tend to believe that life could exist on other planets. I assume that traditional Judaism doesn’t say anything about alien life in outer space. What’s your opinion?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Actually, the Torah addresses every aspect of reality, through all ages and times. You just have to know how to uncover the pearls of wisdom buried within.

The Sefer HaBrit writes that extraterrestrial creatures could exist, but they would not have free will.

This would basically reduce aliens to highly developed monkeys in space ships shooting laser guns. That also means that you would not include them in a minyan, since aliens will not be obligated to pray. Furthermore, as with all creatures, you will not be allowed to feed space aliens anything that Jews are forbidden to derive benefit from – e.g. milk cooked with meat, or chometz on Passover.

As for a source of extraterrestrial life, the simple reading of Psalms 145:13 – "Your kingdom is a kingdom spanning all olamim (worlds)" – might imply the existence of extraterrestrial life, since if there were no existence on these other worlds, what kind of kingdom would God have?! (Rabbi Chasdai Crescas, 14th century)

However, the word "olamim" has two meanings. Not only does it mean "worlds," but it also means "eternities." Thus the verse can be translated as "Your Kingdom is a kingdom spanning all eternities." This reading does not imply extraterrestrial life.

Whatever the case, may the Almighty grant you long life on Earth!

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