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According to this article, there's an organization that wants to blast a Sefer Torah into space for safe keeping on the moon.

Are there any halachik problems regarding such an endeavour (and if so, what are they)?

(Related: Ilan Ramon (the Israeli astronaut) took a Torah with him when he went into space, but that was for his use, not for storage.)

H\T 'Moshe H'

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    לא בשמים היא ?? – Shmuel May 25 '14 at 5:45
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    the underlying assumption here is that we need to "help" God to safeguard His torah in case the world gets destroyed or whatever reason. This runs contrary to lots of Jewish hashkafa, such as that God is in control of the world, etc., and the world is headed for redemption, resurrection, etc. Based on that, I think it's a big waste of a kosher sefer torah and a big waste of money. note that not everything needs to be explicit in the shulchan aruch to be considered halacha. for example, it does not say anywhere you cannot pray with a cat on your head, but one can deduce from common sense that – ray May 28 '14 at 11:22
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    it is not appropriate to speak before a king like this. – ray May 28 '14 at 11:22
  • @ray Doesn't it say you can't hold anything while praying? – Ploni Jun 11 '17 at 19:23
  • A sefer Torah on the moon would almost certainly become pasul very quickly due to radiation – Daniel Sep 29 at 21:47
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In Yoreh Deah (282) it seems that you can't simply take a sefer Torah out. There needs to be a holy, good purpose/reason for taking it out or for travelling. To take a sefer Torah to the moon when there is no place for it to reside and no Minyan in which it would be read, it seems unlikely that this would be permitted. Furthermore, the journey to the moon is not necessarily kavodik - how would it be transported etc. are all questions that would require halachic discussion and supervision. As a practical example it would be forbidden to sleep or lie next to the Sefer Torah. In space is this even possible not to do?

Sifrei Torah that remain untouched tend to wear out much faster than those read on a regular (weekly) basis. The reason is that the ink is constantly expanding and contracting as it is rolled, and thus bonds to the parchment more readily. Leaving a sefer Torah in an environment where the elements could actually damage it, would defeat any objective. Solar winds, low gravity, low atmosphere, low oxygen could have a deleterious affect on the parchment and ink. It could not, but one would have to test this in a real life example - perhaps a sofer would write some text on parchment, send it up to the moon for a year, and then get it back to see the effects. This would be an expensive undertaking for any mission.

There are also Hashkafic issues. Is there legitimate reason to send a Sefer Torah to the moon? If it is an act of preservation, the Jewish people have survived more than 2000 years of tumultuous history, Their sifrei Kodesh have survived as well, Hashem has provided the means for two miracles, there is no need to worry about that.

If these places are colonized, would there be any reason for a Jew to go? It would seem that it would be forbidden to go to Mars if there is no Minyan etc. If necessity required it, then the appropriate questions will be posed to the leading halachic authorities about the most appropriate action in such a scenario should be.

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In What If... on Yamim Tovim (page 242-244), Rav Zilberstein addresses whether a Sofer may write a Sefer Torah specifically for the purpose of sending it to the moon.

He begins by citing the Yerushalmi (Peah 1:1), where Rebbe sent the non-Jew Artvon a Mezuzah. The Netziv (Emek She’eilah 145) questions this: a Mezuzah written without specification must be hung on a Jewish doorpost; a Mezuzah may not be hung on a non-Jew’s doorway, as he has no obligation of Mezuzah, and that would be degrading to the scroll written for the Mitzvah. The Netziv answers that it must be, then, that Rebbe specifically had that Mezuzah written for Artvon. He quotes a precedent for this from the Yerushalmi (Sanhedrin 3:9) which says that Sifrei Torah written in Eretz Yisrael may not be removed from Eretz Yisrael unless they were specifically written to be brought to the Diaspora.

Based on this, Rav Zilberstein at first suggested that it should be permissible to write such a Sefer Torah with the intent to take it to the moon. However, he differentiates between the two cases, saying that it’s a disgrace to the Sefer Torah to be brought to a barren place where it will never be used, and “the fundamental disgrace of the Sefer Torah never being used cannot be mitigated by writing it with that intent.”

If Rav Zilberstein ruled that sending a Sefer Torah specifically written to be sent to the moon is still forbidden, all the more so to send one which was written to be used should be forbidden!

EDIT: This same logic is brought in Feldheim’s Veha’arev Na, volume 2, pages 509-511.

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