Sunday, May 04, 2008

Chazal and Science; Secular Knowledge

Hello R. Bechoffer
I remember
listening to one of your lectures, and you mentioned that the sages did
not know science, and that not everything is in the Torah. You also
brought out The Gra's made a Sium when he finished learning sciences
of the world. Can you please provide references of the above, or if I
misunderstood what you were saying can you please clarify.

These are two separate issues. The former is issue is my own sevara -
but it is based on Avoda Zara 4b, where we see that Adam HaRishon was
not told such elementary concepts as the days becoming longer and

The latter is in the Hakdama to Sefer Pe'as HaShulchan, written by the Gra's talmid.


  1. "and that not everything is in the Torah"

    If I recall the shiur correctly (if it's the same one), this statement has a clarification.

    Since the Torah is the blueprint of the universe, everything IS in it, but only at very deep levels, which are unaccessable to most people, maybe even to Chazal.

    Is this correct? If so, in theory, if one knew the secrets of the Torah deep enough, could they extract quantum mechanics?

  2. Also, on the topic of Torah and Science, check out the animated movie by Nathan Aviezer which I have posted here:

  3. Sorry very technical but I started Writing it so I finished it.
    וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה אֱמֹר אֶל-הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם לְנֶפֶשׁ לֹא-יִטַּמָּא בְּעַמָּיו
    Rashi says on this Posuk is teaching us to warn the adults regarding the minors. What does this mean? The Chasam Sofer offers a few answers .The Cohen's children are of a special status genealogically. The reason for this is because of the Laws of the Kehunah. The reason by a non-Cohen a child is believed to be of his Parents is because of the law of majority. This in legal reasoning is a weak argument. This means we believe the mother to say who the father of the child is on her word. This by a Cohen says the Chasam Sofer is different. There is a law in Kehuna that if the wife of a Cohen is attacked, the wife is no longer allowed to live with her husband. The reason for this is if there is a child sired thereafter it has a special status of a Chillul. This child loses the special status of Kehunah and can not do the service in the temple. It also brings shame to the family to prevent all of this we know that the wife of the Cohen will admit right away that she was attacked, and will not consider continuing living with her husband. Therefore her children have the special strong genealogical status so Rashi says you have a special connection with your children henceforth you the Cohen must be extra careful about your minors. The second less legalistic reason is also to do with the Technical aspects of Kehuna .Kohanim do not receive a plot of land in Israel as do the other tribes. The Kohanim also subsist on Terumos and Masseros .It is for these reasons the Kohanim have a special warning from Rashi to watch out for the younger ones. That is because there was no regular source of income not land or regular finances. Therefore Rashi specifies that special care must be taken of the Minors as they have no source of income. A third reason given by the Chasam Sofer has to do with the special Genetic trait that all Kohanim are supposed to have that is they are a "Lovers of Peace and a pursuers of Peace" as there grandfather Aharon HaKohen was. Therefore they are especially meant for doing Hashem's work of bringing the Jews closer to Hashem. This being defined as Kiruv with this holy work says the Chasam Sofer comes great responsibility. That is to "warn the adults regarding the minors" meaning to warn them not to got overly involved in the others peoples lives seeing that they can influence you the other Kohanim in the negative so it is your job to forewarn them that is to be לְנֶפֶשׁ לֹא-יִטַּמָּא