Gershon Hepner

Dark Matter and Energy

The cosmically major role played by dark matter

may, according to cosmologists, be dwarfed

by that played by mysterious dark energy.

Due to the way they have worked in synergy

a universe that’s manifest has morphed,

only one fifth visible to its persona grata,

the human cast that may have been by God created to observe it,

but raging energetically in darkness perhaps does not deserve it.


News of inconstancy of this dark energy, said its discoverer,

was the best news that he this week heard.

Inconstancy of Israel’s friends has made this worried sufferer

wish that dark energy against the Jews had not been stirred.

In a review of The Elephant in the Universe: Our Hundred-Year Search for Dark Matter by Govert Schilling, Katie Mack, the Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, writes (WSJ, 7/9/22):

For nearly a century, astronomers have been finding hints that the stuff we are made of—atoms, molecules, everything constituting ordinary matter—is, cosmically speaking, insignificant.

In “A Tantalizing ‘Hint’ That Astronomers Got Dark Energy All Wrong,” NYT, 4/4/24, Dennis Overbye writes:

On Thursday, astronomers who are conducting what they describe as the biggest and most precise survey yet of the history of the universe announced that they might have discovered a major flaw in their understanding of dark energy, the mysterious force that is speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.

Dark energy was assumed to be a constant force in the universe, both currently and throughout cosmic history. But the new data suggest that it may be more changeable, growing stronger or weaker over time, reversing or even fading away.

“As Biden would say, it’s a B.F.D.,” said Adam Riess, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. He shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with two other astronomers for the discovery of dark energy, but was not involved in this new study. “It may be the first real clue we have gotten about the nature of dark energy in 25 years,” he said.

Jannai, a late fifth – early sixth century, Gallilean payetan, wrote a poem which is sung at the end of the first seder by Jews who celebrate two, “Nirtzah, And It Happened at Midnight: וּבְכֵן וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה.” It states:

קָרֵב יוֹם אֲשֶׁר הוּא לֹא יוֹם וְלֹא לַיְלָה, רָם הוֹדַע כִּי לְךָ הַיּוֹם אַף לְךָ הַלַּיְלָה, שׁוֹמְרִים הַפְקֵד לְעִירְךָ כָּל הַיּוֹם וְכָל הַלַּיְלָה, תָּאִיר כְּאוֹר יוֹם חֶשְׁכַּת לַיְלָה, וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה.

Bring close the day which is not day and not night [referring to the end of days – (Zechariah 14:7)]. High One, make known that Yours is the day and also Yours is the night, guards appoint for Your city all the day and all the night, illuminate like the light of the day, the darkness of the night, and it was in the middle of the night.

This is the verse in Zech. 14:7 that inspired Jannai’s reference to “the day which is not day and not night”:

וְהָיָ֣ה יוֹם־אֶחָ֗ד ה֛וּא יִוָּדַ֥ע לַיהֹוָ֖ה לֹא־י֣וֹם וְלֹא־לָ֑יְלָה וְהָיָ֥ה לְעֵֽת־עֶ֖רֶב יִֽהְיֶה־אֽוֹר׃

And there shall be a continuous day—only GOD knows when—of neither day nor night, and there shall be light at eventide.

Rashi explains Zech. 14:7 as follows:

Neither [will it be] a light of splendor, like the light of the world to come, as it is stated (Isa. 30:26): “The light of the sun shall be sevenfold as the light of the seven days.”

Nor a time of trouble, like the trouble of the preceding subjugation by the kingdoms, shall [these days] be, for they will be the days of the Messiah, and there shall be no subjugation during these days.

It occurred to me, after hearing Dr. Lindsay Taylor-Guthartz in Torah in Motion explain that Jannai’s song could be regarded as a prayer for the inconstancy of dark energy, a physical concept on which I pivot my poem. It is as if Jannai is foreshadowing such a prayer recited by all Jews who celebrate a seder this year, six months after October 7.

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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