Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Miracles, Nature, History

From a correspondent:

Dear Rabbi:
In many postings on the web, I've seen various ways of understanding the interaction of miracles with "nature and history". I'm beginning to think that the paradoxes associated with this interaction are a subset of the Big Paradox associated with the interaction between HaShem and the created world---that we associate with concepts like "tzimtzum".
Looking at it in this way, I marvel at the many weird solutions people feel they must advance to account for the apparent lack of "evidence on the ground" for past miracles documented in Tanach (e.g., the Mabul) and elsewhere. Because if HaShem, for His own reasons, including the maintenance of our ability to have free choice, conceals himself in varying degrees, why should it be impossible for them to understand that He "covers the tracks" of His miracles in varying degrees?
People often rule out the rapid creation of a fully functioning world, saying that the scientifically observed age of the world (whatever that is, lately) has to be real, because otherwise these observations would be the result of deception! Have they not heard our Sages call this a world of "sheker", while the afterlife is a world of "emes"? What do they suppose that means?
And, just because we are granted enough reliable sensory input and analytical capability to carry out our daily tasks, that doesn't mean we can have a complete model of how the whole world is run.
Looking at the final paragraph of the Shema, I note that our hearts and our eyes should be disregarded if they provide input injurious to our mitzvah observance or faith. I don't think this is limited to lustful thoughts and sights; there is reason to believe this applies also to very rational, scientific thoughts and sights.
Do you think I'm on the right track here?


My Response:

It is axiomatic that "HaShomayim mesaprim kevod E-l..." and "Kevodo malei olam..." R' Akiva put it succinctly - just as the garment testifies to the weaver, the beriah testifies to the Creator. We thus see that one (in fact, the primary) manner in which to achieve emunah is by in-depth examination of the Creation. Since such examination begins with the eyes, it follows that the Beriah must be true to the eyes that behold it. Thus, it is not possible that we are to disregard the wonders of Creation - they are the pathway to emunah! And, hence, since "Chosamo shel HKB"H emes," the expression of history manifest in the Beriah must, perforce, reflect the forces HKB"H brought to bear in creating it, not be in conflict with it.

22 comments:

  1. Excuse me - Rabbi YGB, but I believe the questioner is correct. This world is an 'olam' - 'he'elem'. The creation is hiding our G-d. While it is true that the glory of G-d may be revealed by creation in varied ways, it does not follow that observation of the physical world would lead one to faith in the Torah and the G-d of Israel.

    a

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  2. רמב"ם יד החזקה - הלכות יסודי התורה פרק ב
    (ב) והיאך היא הדרך לאהבתו ויראתו בשעה שיתבונן האדם במעשיו וברואיו הנפלאים הגדולים ויראה מהן חכמתו שאין לה ערך ולא קץ מיד הוא אוהב ומשבח ומפאר ומתאוה תאוה גדולה לידע השם הגדול כמו שאמר דוד צמאה נפשי לאלהים לאל חי וכשמחשב בדברים האלו עצמן מיד הוא נרתע לאחוריו ויפחד ויודע שהוא בריה קטנה שפלה אפלה עומדת בדעת קלה מעוטה לפני תמים דעות כמו שאמר דוד כי אראה שמיך מעשה אצבעותיך מה אנוש כי תזכרנו ולפי הדברים האלו אני מבאר כללים גדולים ממעשה רבון העולמים כדי שיהיו פתח למבין לאהוב את השם כמו שאמרו חכמים בענין אהבה שמתוך כך אתה מכיר את מי שאמר והיה העולם:

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  3. RYGB, Any thoughts on whether the study of modern science and medicine can lead to Ahavas Hashem? The Israeli English Yated recently published an editorial saying that modern science is different from medieval science, and cannot lead to Ahavas Hashem. Do you have an opinion?

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  4. ספר פרי צדיק פרשת בראשית - אות א
    ואברהם אבינו נקרא ירא, כי ראה תמיד מלך מלכי המלכים הקב"ה עומד עליו ורואה במעשיו, כי לא היה לו רב שילמדו רק התחיל מעצמו לחקור. תאמר שהבירה זו בלא מנהיג כו', כמו שאמרו בבראשית רבה ומכל מה שנברא בעולם ראה, כי מעשי השם יתברך המה וכמו שנאמר והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך, וראה את השם יתברך מכל דבר שנברא בעולם וזה שנאמר שנראה להאבות בשם אל שדי וכמו שאמר רבינו ר' בונם זצ"ל דשם זה מרמז על מה שאמרו (חגיגה יב.) אני הוא שאמרתי לעולם די שהיה העולם מרחיב והולך כו', עד שגער בו הקב"ה והעמידו, היינו, כי הבריאה היתה כדי שיכירו הנבראים אלהותו יתברך שמו ואמר להם הקב"ה די שאין צריכים להתמתח עוד יותר, כי תספיק הבריאה כמו שהיא להכיר ממנה אלהותו יתברך וממילא כשהכיר אברהם אבינו מהבריאה אלהותו היה רואה מלך מלכי המלכים עומד עליו.

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  5. ספר צדקת הצדיק - אות קפט
    קפט) שני מיני השגות אלהות יש. אחת מצד הבריאה מכיר שיש בורא וזה נקרא מעשה בראשית. שנית מצד ההנהגה וזה נקרא מעשה מרכבה איך השם יתברך רוכב על הברואים. והם שתי מדריגות דראיה וידיעה של אבות ומשה רבינו ע"ה הנזכר בזוהר וארא (כ"ג.) עיין שם שהאבות השיגו מצד הברואים כמו שאמרו ז"ל (בראשית רבה ריש פרשת לך ל"ט א') באברהם אבינו ע"ה ראה בירה דולקת וכו' והיא נקראת ראיה דאתגליא ולכן נזכר אותו שם אצלם שם בכתוב המורה שאמר לעולמו די כדברי חז"ל (חגיגה י"ב.) ופירש הרבי ר' בונם זצ"ל שיש די בבריאה זו להכיר אלהותו יתברך על ידו [ואותו שם מועיל גם כן לבנים כנודע כי זה מצד הבריאה כי לא תוהו בראה (ישעיה מ"ה י"ח). וכן תואר אב הוא שם טפל לבן וזו השגת אבות העולם. אבל תואר רב טפל לתלמיד וזהו השגת משה רבן של ישראל]:
    וידיעה הוא בהנהגה כמו שנאמר (שמות ל"ג י"ג) הודיעני נא את דרכיך ולא אתגליא כמו שנאמר (שם פסוק י"ט) וחנותי את אשר וגו' ולא הודיעו רק ידע דשמו הוי"ה הוה ומהוה הכל והיה הוה ויהיה דהיינו כמו עד שלא נברא העולם כן עכשיו דזה אי אפשר להיות מחשבה תפיסה. וזהו הדעת מדריגת משה רבינו ע"ה שהוא כולל כל נפשות התלמידי חכמים מישראל ואי אפשר להשגה זו אלא מי שהוא תלמיד חכם. אבל השגת הראיה של האבות שהם כוללים כל הנפשות כולם מישראל זה אפשר לכל אחד אף שאינו תלמיד חכם להשיג:
    שהשגה זו מוטבע בו מאבותיו מצד שהוא זרע אברהם יצחק ויעקב [ודור המדבר שנקרא דור דעה (מכילתא בשלח ג') ראתה שפחה על הים מה שלא ראה יחזקאל דהיינו מעשה מרכבה שהיו כולם מוכנים לדעה ולמדריגת הדעת דמשה רבינו ע"ה הפרנס הכוללן] וגם לתלמיד חכם בעתות ההעלם יוכל להתחזק על כל פנים בהשגה זו שמורשה לו מהאבות וכדרך שכתב הרמב"ם בהלכות יסודי התורה (ריש פרק ב') כיצד הדרך לאהבה ויראה כשישים האדם אל לבו וכו' עיין שם:

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  6. To RGS:

    I have no idea what they meant! On the surface, the assertion is incomprehensible.

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  7. What one takes away from close observation of the physical world may enhance faith and practice, or may diminish them. In this connection, one's personal qualities and mindset(including conscious or unconscious bias in data-gathering and interpretation) matter a great deal. This is why HaShem's messages concealed within "nature" are more accessible to some and more elusive to others. People do not think alike. Do the painter, the poet, and the physicist see the same world?

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  8. Rabbi YGB -

    Your citations do not prove anything regarding the positive or negative value of studying modern-day natural science. While Avraham Avinu may have recognized things after reflecting upon creation, it doe snot follow that the same would hold true for a student in a nuclear physics class.

    Science speaks a certain language, and theTorah speaks a difefrent language. Yes, G-d speaks to us through creation, but who is to say that the language by which HE expresses Himself is the language of the scientists, and if the reflection that the Rambam mandates is the same as yours?

    We are obliged to understand more than the existence of a Creator, but to know the G-d of Israel who has taught us the Torah.

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  9. Hmmm...

    Why not try this on for size?...

    http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5759/bereishis.html

    As a result of the chet, three types of damage occurred, for which over 5,758 years of history have yet to fully rectify. First of all, the world descended and was distanced from the Infinite Light of G-d. Secondly, the forces of spiritual evil were made stronger by virtue of the fact that man was plunged down to their level. Thirdly, good and evil became mixed together, separable only through death.

    "When Adam sinned, however, this was greatly altered ... At first it was very easy for man to overcome his natural faults and attain perfection ... When Adam sinned, however, he himself caused the further concealment of perfection and increase of evil. Man himself thus became the cause of the evil that existed in him, and it therefore became much more difficult for him to abandon it ..." (Derech Hashem 1:3:6-8)

    This is what G-d commented in the time of Noach:

    The inclinations of the heart of man are evil from his youth. (Bereishis 8:21)

    This is also the intent of the Talmud when it states:

    Four died because of the bite of the Snake, and they were: Binyomin son of Ya'akov, Amram the father of Moshe, Yishai the father of Dovid, and Kalav son of Dovid. (Shabbos 55b)

    That is, they were so perfect that had not death been ordained as a rectification of the chet of Adam HaRishon, these four people would have passed from this world straight to the World to Come.

    Not to mention the incredible insanity that we accept as part and parcel of everyday life. There are many ways to describe the damage Adam and Chava did that sixth day of creation, some more sophisticated and esoteric than others. However, the greatest way to measure the damage is by how inobvious the hand of G-d has become to human beings in everyday life, in every aspect of everyday life.

    She took some of its fruit, and ate. She also gave some to her hus band, and he ate ... Then they heard the voice of G-d mov ing through the garden like the day breeze, and the man and his wife hid from G-d among the trees of the garden. G-d called out to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard Your voice in the Garden. I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid." (Bereishis 3:7-10)

    This was the greatest damage to creation. G-d made all of creation, every last single star in the universe to allow man to act godly, and to become close to His Creator as a matter of free-will choices. Instead of reaching for the stars, man was now mired in the muck, very much human, and "hidden" from G-d. It was the exact opposite scenario that we strive to achieve when we say the Shema: Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One. He is "One" to be sure, but in the minds of men, the wedge between G-d and His physical, "natural" creation had been driven in; 5,758 years, for the most part, have only seemed to widen the gap.

    However. However, as the following quotes make clear, as we approach the end of history as we know it, rectification may not be as far off as many may think:

    "If you change a little bit the laws of nature, or you change a little bit the constants of nature-like the charge on the electron-then the way the universe develops is so changed, it is very likely that intelligent life would not have been able to develop."(Dr. Dennis Scania, head of Cambridge University Observatories)

    "If we nudge one of these constants just a few percent in one direction, stars burn out within a million years of their formation, and there is no time for evolution. If we nudge it a few percent in the other direction, then no elements heavier than helium form. No carbon, no life. Not even any chemistry. No complexity at all ... If anyone claims not to be surprised by the special features that the universe has, he is hiding his head in the sand. These special features ARE surprising and unlikely." (Dr. David D. Deutsch, Institute of Mathematics, Oxford University)

    "The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural 'constants' were off even slightly. You see, even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life-almost contrived-you might say a 'put-up job.' " (Dr. Paul Davies, noted author and professor of theoretical physics at Newcastle University)

    (When Fred Hoyle was researching how carbon came to be in the "blast-furnaces" of the stars, his calculations indicated that it is very difficult to explain how the stars generated the necessary quantity of carbon upon which life on earth depends. Hoyle found that there were numerous "fortunate" one-time occurrences which seemed to indicate that purposeful "adjustments" had been made in the laws of physics and chemistry in order to produce the necessary carbon.) "A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintendent has monkeyed with the physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature, I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars." (Sir Fred Hoyle)

    "The fact that the universe exhibits many features that foster organic life-such as precisely those physical constants that result in planets and long-lived stars-also has led some scientists to speculate that some divine influence may be present." ("Science and G-d: A Warming Trend?" Science; August 1997)

    "The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers (i.e. the constants of physics) seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. For example, if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded... It seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers (for the constants) that would allow for development of any form of intelligent life. Most sets of values would give rise to universes that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty." [Hawking says that he can appreciate taking this as possible evidence of] "a divine purpose in Creation and the choice of the laws of science (by G-d)." (Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p. 125).

    " ... How surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values ... One constant does seem to require an incredible fine-tuning... The existence of life of any kind seems to require a cancellation between different contributions to the vacuum energy, accurate to about 120 decimal places ... [This means that if the energies of the big bang were, in arbitrary units, not: 1000000000000000000000000000000 0000000000000000000000000000000
    000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 0000000000000, but instead, 1,0000000 00000000000000000000000000000000000
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000 0000000000
    00000000000000000000000001, there would be no life of any sort in the entire universe because] the universe either would go through a complete cycle of expansion and contraction before life could arise or would expand so rapidly that no galaxies or stars could form." (Nobel laureate, High Energy Physicist, Professor Steven Weinberg, Scientific American)

    "The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bullseye one millimeter in diameter on the other side." (Michael Turner, Astrophysicist at the University of Chicago and Fermilab

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  10. The appearance of such statements by scientists will enhance the religious consciousness of some people, but will spur others on to refine and perfect their powers of rationalization so they can brush it all off. Can you demonstrate that all the scientists quoted above are now theists? Most? Any?

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  11. Your last post only reinforces my point. The fact that many scientists now agree that there must be a Creator does not meet our own responsibilities: which is to recognize that the Creator has a Chosen People - that He has given them a Torah, and that the world turns upon their actions. In fact, the science of today makes this point harder to discern, so I still stick to my agreement with your first poster - the physical world is a Nisayon - and the advance in knowledge makes the modern-day Nisayon even greater than early generations - Rabbi Winston notwithstanding.

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  12. This is Reb Elchonon's famous point in Kovetz Maamarim. Summarized on the web by Rabbi Zev Leff at:

    http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/leff/archives/chayeisa.htm

    Chesed - Foundation of Emunah

    She said, 'Drink my Lord,' and quickly she lowered her jug to her hand and gave him drink. When she finished giving him drink, she said, 'I will draw water even for your camels until they have finished drinking' (Bereishis 24 18-19).

    Chazal teach us that kindness and benevolence — gemilas chassadim — is one of the pillars upon which the world stands. Yet it still remains to be understood why chesed was the sole criterion which Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, considered in choosing a wife for Yitzchak.

    The benefit of chesed in promoting harmony between people is obvious. But there are many sources in Chazal that link chesed to other values where the connection is far less obvious. The Midrash (Yalkut Shoftim 64), for instance, states that one who does acts of chesed is viewed as if he believes in all the miracles that Hashem performed for the Jewish people; one who does not do acts of chesed is considered as if he denied all the miracles. Another Midrash (Koheles Rabbah 7) links chesed to emunah: One who rejects chesed is as if he denies God. The Torah begins and ends with acts of chesed (Sotah 14a), and Maharal explains that just as in a chain the connecting links are on the ends, so, too, the links to Hashem that emanate from the Torah are created by chesed.

    What exactly is the connection of chesed to emunah? Understanding that connection requires us to consider the ultimate barrier to faith in God. Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, hy "d, in Kovetz Ma'amarim, writes that God's existence is obvious to every human being. The orderly and complex nature of the universe cries out the existence of an intelligent Creator. Only a person's desires and passions blind him to seeing the truth. Shortsighted self-interest prevents him from recognizing that which is self-evident. Chazal enjoin us from straying after false ideologies with the words, "Do not stray after your heart." The source of false ideologies is not in the intellect but the heart. The passions of the heart deprive the intellect of the objectivity necessary to acknowledge the truth. As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch so beautifully puts its, "Emunah is not the knowledge that there is a God, but rather the acknowledgment."

    Our discussion of a person's desires as the major barrier to emunah will help us understand a difficult Rashi in Lech Lecha. Rashi says that God miraculously saved the King of Sodom from his fall into a lime pit because there were those who did not believe that Avraham had been miraculously saved from the fiery furnace of Nimrod. Only when they heard of the miraculous deliverance of the King of Sodom, did they retroactively believe in Avraham's salvation.

    Ramban asks what was the connection between the King of Sodom's miraculous escape and belief in the miracle on Avraham's behalf. The essence of the miracle on Avraham's behalf was that he was saved on account of his righteousness and trust in Hashem, factors completely absent in the case of the King of Sodom. Ramban speculates that perhaps the King of Sodom was delivered from the pit when Avraham approached it, and hence it was obvious that he was saved due to the merit of Avraham. But if so, Rashi omitted the crucial detail. In addition, what does Rashi mean that they believed in Avraham retroactively? It would seem rather that they believed in Avraham from that point on.

    Avraham's salvation from the fiery furnace was a matter of public knowledge. It took place before a multitude of spectators who had come to witness Nimrod's execution of the heretical destroyer of idols. How, then, could there be people who did not believe? The answer is that even well-documented historical occurrences can be denied if their implications point to uncomfortable conclusions. Belief in Avraham's miraculous deliverance necessitated recognition of an intelligent Creator, Who is involved in this world and rewards the righteous. And that in turn would lead logically to recognition of the need to subjugate oneself to God's design for the world. Those with uncontrollable passions therefore needed to reject what they or others had clearly seen.

    But when the King of Sodom was saved in a miraculous fashion, the miracle no longer needed to be attributed to Divine reward and punishment. It could be argued that supernatural events can benefit the wicked as well as the righteous. No longer did the miracle suggest the existence of a God of justice. The evildoers of that generation could now believe retroactively in Avraham's miracle, for there was no longer any need to deny its implications. Though Hashem performed this miracle to demonstrate to the non-believers the fickleness of their approach-their lack of intellectual honesty and integrity-they used it to further blind themselves to His reward and punishment.

    We have seen that the belief in God is a direct function of one's freedom from subjective desires and capacity for objectivity. This, then, is the connection between chesed and emunah. Only one who can be selflessly concerned with others, who can divest himself of his own needs and be sensitive to those of others can attain the objectivity needed for the true belief in Hashem. Avraham was rosin hama'aminim-the first and greatest of the believers-and at the same time the pillar of chesed. The two are inseparable.

    The Baalei Mussar point out that the difference between a window and a mirror is but a little "kesef"-silver. Kesef is derived from the root "to desire." When one gives into passions and desires, he sees only himself. Similarly, one who is selfishly concerned only with himself will distort the world. One who frees himself of this selfish perspective and looks out the window to be concerned with others will ultimately have a more honest and objective perspective of the world.

    Therefore Eliezer tested Rivkah to see if she was a lover of chesed. He sought not just someone who acted with kindness but a lover of chesed like Avraham, who actually suffered when opportunities to perform chesed did not present themselves.

    Eliezer tested Rivkah by asking her for a favor rather than letting her offer first. It is easier to volunteer chesed, which is a boost to one's own self image, than to acquiesce to another's request. Eliezer stood by quietly while Rivkah toiled to draw water for his entire flock of camels. He neither offered to help in the slightest way nor expressed any gratitude. Had Rivkah not sought to do chesed for its own sake, she would have been discouraged by his rudeness. Only when Eliezer was convinced that Rivkah's chesed emanated from complete selflessness, did the test cease. For now he knew that Rivkah's selflessness guaranteed the objectivity needed for true emunah, and that she was fit to be the mother of the Jewish people.

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  13. From: "Ron Caplan"
    sumseq@hotmail.com
    To: ygb@aishdas.org
    Subject: RE: Fwd: [YGB] 5/11/2005 01:58:31 PM

    There are a few good articles at the beginning of the Challenge book by feldheim that I am reading on this topic.

    My own thoughts however is that its true that the Science they teach in university is coming from people who for the most part look the other way when it comes to non-scientific ideas like religion. They teach from a perspective of near-atheism, and engross themselves so deeply in the study they don't step back to appreciate the large-scale significance of the study. Science is about going deeper and deeper and more precise into a topic then seeing the overall picture from a human perspective.

    Thus, someone in a nuclear physics class would probably not become an Avraham Avenu.

    However, if someone take the knowledge gained from such classes, sifts out the philosophy of scientism, as well as non-thoroughly-established theories, and concentrates on the fact that Hashem created all of it, then I think most definitely science helps ahavas HaShem. (In fact, I sometimes wonder how people without any science knowledge can truly appreciate "zecher maaseh bereishies".)

    In terms of "language" of the scientist vs Hashems language, or course it is different (as of now). Science uses generalizations in many situations, and mathematics is a logical construct that can describe to a determined level of accuracy the world around us. However no scientist would in his right mind try to simulate a stars structure in all details (a single solar flare would need a huge super computer to simulate!), and a atomic physicists would never try to count every particle he was working with, (because its impossible!) . Thus the scientists language is only approximations. Today, in most cases, these approximations are more the adequate for our needs to use them in inventions. However to describe Creation in its essence, Science has been forced to re-think its laws, and come up with new ones that describe extreme conditions (the ultra large, ultra small, high-energy, etc). Scientists claim that they are approaching a point of total explanation of the Creation. Their goal is to unify all of the laws of nature into one, simple, all-encompassing equation / statement which can unify all of the Creation. This would obviously be connected to the 10 statements of Creation, so if they ever reach that point, I think even they would come to recognize ahavas HaShem. (Even atheists call this sought after unification "the G-d equation", or "G-d's mindset".

    In my opinion, one cannot come to an ahavas Hashem from only learning science from the scientists, but rather needs to look at thte science through the correct perspective. Truth cannot be ignored, and unless Hashem is trying to trick us, the world seems to run by certain defined attributes, and we have been given the ability to see these only recently.

    For example, I was in university astronomy class with 400 other people.
    Everyone was bored and thinking about how drunk they were to get that night. On the other hand, a FFB friend of mine in Monsey had to take an astronomy course for credit, and was knocked off his chair every class! He said it was awe-inspiring and helped his kavana for davening! Big difference!
    Does this mean one has to have Torah first before appreciating science?
    Quite possibly for most people, yes! Only those seeking deep insight into science , into ultimate theories, and complex biology, etc. are the ones who have started to believe in a "Higher Intelligence". The average 20 year old in science class, does not come to this conclusion.


    I dont knwo if this completely answers the question, but I \definetly agree with you that "I have no idea what they meant! On the surface, the assertion is incomprehensible."

    - Ron

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  14. Anonymous said...

    What one takes away from close observation of the physical world may enhance faith and practice, or may diminish them. In this connection, one's personal qualities and mindset(including conscious or unconscious bias in data-gathering and interpretation) matter a great deal. This is why HaShem's messages concealed within "nature" are more accessible to some and more elusive to others. People do not think alike. Do the painter, the poet, and the physicist see the same world?



    It depends if one takes a preconceived perspective and from that viewpoint surveys nature and the beriah, or whether one examines nature and the beriah and in the wake of that examination formulates a perspective. The latter will perceive Hashem - whether artistically, poetically or scientifically; the former - perhaps not.

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  15. The letter writter hit the nail on the head. This concept is discussed at length by Rabbi Nachman in Likute Moharan in several places, as well as in Likute Halachot by Rabbi Natan (see especially Even Haezer, hilchot Pirya urivya/Ishut 3:13, which discusses discovering Gcd through Torah versus through nature).

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  16. From a distinguished talmid chochom and scientist in Eretz Yisroel:

    The issue is not the language of science, but rather its substance. In concluding Sefer Mada, Rambam said:

    ועל פי הדעה תהיה האהבה אם מעט מעט ואם הרבה הרבה, לפיכך צריך האדם ליחד עצמו להבין ולהשכיל בחכמות ותבונות המודיעים לו את קונו כפי כח שיש באדם להבין ולהשיג כמו שבארנו בהלכות יסודי התורה.

    If anything, recent scientific discoveries imply Gd’s existence even more than ever; cf. the anthropic principle [=laws of nature seem to have been designed to produce sentient beings], which plays a central role today’s philosophy of science. Now scientists have found that every microscopic cell in every animal & plant performs all the functions of a highly sophisticated factory.

    In my own professional area: in the human retina [=screen in the back of the eye] there is a jumble of nerves. Till a few decades ago, no one knew what for. Now it was discovered that this is a mini-mini-computer, doing a tremendous job of converting the blurred image falling on the retina into the sharp one we see.

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  17. Anonymous said...

    The letter writter hit the nail on the head. This concept is discussed at length by Rabbi Nachman in Likute Moharan in several places, as well as in Likute Halachot by Rabbi Natan (see especially Even Haezer, hilchot Pirya urivya/Ishut 3:13, which discusses discovering Gcd through Torah versus through nature).


    It is most certainly true that Reb Nachman held this way.

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  18. How does the scientifically oriented observer, even one who accepts G-d as the Creator, make the leap to accept open miracles as documented in the Torah? Wouldn't this person's inclination be to treat the open miracles in the Torah as "fables with a moral"?

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  19. Why would a scientist have any more difficulty with miracles than the Rambam?

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  20. Aside from Rambam's exceptional personal qualities, he was brought up and properly educated as a believing Jew.

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  21. ...And therefore the Rambam had the proper perspective on miracles, which he doubtless would maintain any thinking person should attain as well - the Rambam believing, as he did, that through thought all Emes=Torah can be derived.

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  22. See:

    http://www.600000men.com/book/Akiva.html

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