Is Learning Science Spiritually Dangerous?

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  • #590444

    ames
    Participant

    My question. How do you plan on doing that in the wonderful NYC? All you’ll end up seeing is the skyscrapers.

  • #660369

    mybat
    Member

    Well I once went to hear a speaker that was proving that science in no way contradicts the torah.

  • #660370

    squeak
    Participant

    mepal, not at all true. There are a number of observatories in good ole Brookland. Some are impossible to gain access to, but all of them view the skies.

    Besides, you don’t have to be looking at the sky to study astronomy.

  • #660371

    Dr. Pepper
    Member

    Here’s a moshul my Rebbe once gave (not regarding this but I think it can be applied here).

    If you really need to get somewhere and the streets are all full of ice do you stay home or buckle up and drive extra carefully?

    So, in my opinion, stay alert, buckle up and be very careful. If you feel that you can weed out the facts and apikorsus- good for you. If not- make sure you discuss anything questionable with a rov or someone you trust.

  • #660372

    mazca
    Member

    well learning science makes u see the wonders of Hashem, and if people do not want to see, they wont if a person learns science and doesnt see the wonders, a person its not learning science, its just learning opinions

    Please use punctuation when you post.

  • #660373

    anon for this
    Participant

    Dr. Pepper, that’s a nice moshul. It would definitely apply if the course under consideration is required so that one may finish a degree that will allow him to earn a parnosah. But in your moshul, only those who absolutely need to go somewhere should drive when the streets are icy; everyone else is advised to stay home. The course ames is considering is not a requirement but one that she feels with strengthen her emuna. That said, I do agree with your conclusion.

  • #660374

    zalmy
    Member

    i suggest you look up the following rambam’s:

    – hilchos yesodei hatorah perek 2 halacha 2

    – hilchos yesodei hatorah perek 4 halacha 12

    – the last halacha in hilchos teshuva

    the rambam explains that the way that a person comes to both fear hashem and love hashem (which we are commanded to do) is through in-depth study of the hashem’s world and all its wonders (including, specifically, astronomy), which gives a person a greater appreciation for the infinite brilliance of hashem’s creations (leading to a greater love of hashem), as well as a better understanding of man’s insignificance in comparison to hashem (leading to greater fear of hashem).

    it would seem that ames’ study of astronomy is EXACTLY what the rambam is describing as being part of the mitzvos of ahavas hashem/yiras hashem. those who are attempting to dissuade ames’ (and others) from studying science have the rambam to contend with.

  • #660375

    squeak
    Participant

    ames feel free to share with us any interesting stuff that you learn! That is, if you’re brave enough 🙂

  • #660376

    Joseph
    Member

    Since the Rema in Toras HaOlah (1:2) states clearly that we assume rabbinic science to be infallible, and ancient rabbinic knowledge of astronomy complete, a good place to start learning is from our own sources.

  • #660377

    mepal
    Member

    ames: yes, yes! We’re all sitting here anxiously waiting for some words from the wise…

  • #660378

    NY Mom
    Member

    I think it’s a good idea to balance your study of astronomy with a good strong hashkafa book. I know that R’ Avigdor Miller’s “Rejoice O Youth!” deals with topics of science and appreciating Hashem through nature. Are you familiar with it?

  • #660379

    Joseph
    Member

    ames:

    Here are some starting material.

    Medrash Tehillim (19) quotes Shmuel as saying he is an expert in the streets of Nehardea as much as he is an expert in the ‘streets’ of the heavens. The Medrash asks how Shmuel knew all of that, and it answers he knew it all through the Torah. It then quotes a R’ Hoshea as saying there is “space” between the upper waters and the firmament, and the Medrash asks how R, Hoshea could know this unless he traveled to space. It answers, he knew it from the Torah.

    Aruch Hashulchan (EH 13): “I will tell you a great principle: Chazal, besides their holiness and wisdom in the Torah, were also greater scholars in the natural sciences those savants (“mischakmim”) who would argue against their pure words. And someone who disagrees with them testifies about himself that he does not believe in Torah she bal peh, even though he would be embarrassed to admit it outright.”

    Chasam Sofer (Beshalach) writes that this is the meaning of the posuk “Ki hi chachmascha ubinascha l’einei ha’amim” – Chazal were great experts in the secular sciences and disciplines. In fact, you need to know much secular knowledge in many areas in order to properly understand the Torah – and he gives several simple examples. However, since we are supposed to be busy learning Torah – not secular science – all day and night, and Hashem has no “nachas ruach” from us learning secular studies at all, how would Chazal have known all the secualr wisdom that they clearly knew, as we see they did from all of Shas?

    Answer: They know it from the Torah, since the entire body of secular wisdom is included in the Torah, for the Torah is the bluepeint of the world. And so, when the Goyim see that we do not study the secular science books at all – and we even disagree with them! – yet we derive all the secular knowledge, in the most precisely accurate form – from only the Sefer Torah, they will exclaim, “Am chacham v’navon hagoy hagadol hazeh!” (A similar explanation is given by the Raavad-ibn Daud. He says that the posuk refers to the philosophical truths that it took the nations centuries to develop, we knew all the time via tradition from Har Sinai.)

    The Abarbanel (Shmos 12) quotes Ptolmey as being so impressed with the Jews’ astronomical calculations, that he said it proves the Jews had prophecy. In the Sefer Eretz Zvi (by Rav Aryeh Zvi Fromer ZT’L, Rosh Yeshiva in Chachmei Lublin), quotes more such sources about Ptolmey.

  • #660380

    goody613
    Member

    Rav Yisroel Belsky is an expert on astronomy, i don’t think he would know it if there was something wrong with it.

  • #660381

    Joseph
    Member

    Another interesting Chasam Sofer says (in Drashos Chasam Sofer Vol. 1 p.100b) – Our phophets and sages know all the sciences much better than the scientists, even though all they learn is Torah. This is because the One who created nature informs our sages of the correct facts. This is what amazes the nations, as it says, Am navon v’chacham hagoy hagodol hazeh!

    And the Ramak (Sefer HaPardes 13:6) says the same of Chazal regarding astronomy.

  • #660382

    goody613
    Member

    Rav yonasan Eybishitz describes a rocket ship. and i think the mahral said its possible to go to the moon.all these people knew all the science from the torah

  • #660383

    One word of torah has more knowledge than every science book in the world.

  • #660384

    Joseph
    Member

    How arrogant, and how ridiculous!

    The wisdom of Hashem Himself is manifest in the wonderful world we live in, and since His wisdom is infinite, the wisdom contained in the world is infinite.

    Now the question is: IF there is no creator, how did we get here? IF there is no Creator, then why do these organs seems so similar? The entire nonsense is only assumptions and wishful thinking, not logic or reason.

  • #660385

    mazca
    Member

    Joseph…thanks

  • #660388

    yoshi
    Member

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be more knowledgeable in certain subjects. Most of all Science!

    There are many books out there that talk about the study of Science and believing in the Torah, are not contradicting. In fact they compliment each other.

  • #660389

    Joseph
    Member

    I’d put a link if it were allowed. Not sure if I can mention the site name here, but will put it on a separate post to this one, and let the site decide if it goes up.

  • #660391

    squeak
    Participant

    A simple google search of the first sentence should give the information.

  • #660392

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Joseph,

    Fair enough. At least you should point out that you read it somewhere. 🙂

    In any event, I’d like to offer my apologies on the “again.” You weren’t (as far as I can tell) one of the ones who were involved in the sock-puppetry and plagiarizing last time. I did not mean to imply that you were.

    The Wolf

  • #660393

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Joseph,

    I’m curious… do you think the sun goes behind the rakia at night?

    The Wolf

  • #660394

    onlyemes
    Member

    Completely off topic. 26

  • #660395

    Joseph
    Member

    26, as with the comment you deleted, you can see what kind of kefira enters the mind with complete acceptance of modern science.

  • #660396

    squeak
    Participant

    Can I say it again? Or will I be silenced again?

    Gimme a “T”

    Gimme an “R”

  • #660397

    Anonymous

    joseph, I don’t believe the question of completely accepting modern science was addressed. The question seems to be whether it is possible to trust oneself to filter the apirkorsus out of the science.

    squeak, are you addressing the mods? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • #660398

    squeak
    Participant

    I said, it smells like troll in here.

  • #660399

    Anonymous

    squeak, this time you’re right 😉

  • #660400

    Joseph
    Member

    Wolf: Do you have a complete understanding of rakia?

  • #660401

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    BS”D

    What do you want to learn about astronomy? The positions of the stars? Their brightness? How to identify them?

    Or their origins?

    The first three are not dangerous; neither for that matter is learning about the gases which compose them.

    It is discussing the origins as believed by scientists that can be dangerous.

    The first way of studying is no different than knowing about the eating habits and bodily structure of a 600 kilo bear, or even to deduce that dogs and bears are somehow related. If the 600 kilo bear is black or brown, then his hibernation patterns may be of interest to scientists who want to replicate that process in humans to allow for certain types of medical treatment. (If he is a polar bear, which at that weight is more likely, then his fur and its layered structure is supposedly the inspiration for a type of insulation fabric made by duPont or one of the other giants which is used in outdoor sport coats).

    The second could lead you to believe that a 600 kilo bear and a mouse somehow evolved from the same organism, which is very possibly both kefira and shtus.

  • #660403

    mosherose
    Member

    Okay I’m going to disagree here. I think that learning science is dangerous and can lead to kefira. If your curious about science learn Torah and the science will come along with it.

  • #660404

    onlyemes
    Member

    I did a very superficial search on basic astronomy on the internet. Total time spent, approximately three minutes. There is a site which lists the “Top ten basic astronomy facts”. Some of these facts are in disagreement with the Yeshiva World News hashkafah and are regarded by many here as kefirah. From this point of view, any in-depth secular informational source will only be worse. If one wants to avoid this ,one must stay far away from modern astronomy. Better to learn Shor Shenogach.

  • #660405

    mybat
    Member

    One thing is to learn about astronamers opinions and its another thing to learn about hashems universe.

  • #660406

    I would suggest if you do go for the sciences, make sure to learn from a Yarei Shomayim. Many “professors” and textbooks have the ulterior motive of promoting Kefira.

  • #660407

    ZachKessin
    Member

    If you are interested in the night sky Orion Telescopes has put out a number of new scopes for very cheap. They have a very nice 3″ Reflector for $49.95, this will show you the moon and planets even from NYC. If you can get out of the city it will of course show you a lot more. I am in Israel and tend to go to the Negev, from NYC I would suggest maybe the Delaware Water Gap area. If you have a pair of binoculars those will work quite well too.

    There are some very nice free star charts out there, you will need a printer of course.

  • #660408

    charliehall
    Member

    I found the “Top Ten” I think onlyemes was referring to by typing “Top ten basic astronomy facts” to Google. All are based on empirical facts, and empirical fact can not contradict Torah, chas v’shalom. Therefore they is not a threat to Torah, which of course does not require belief in anything that isn’t true. Acceptance of empirical fact is essential to Jewish observance.

  • #660409

    charliehall
    Member

    ames is not correct in saying a scientist can “believe any theory”. Scientific theories have to be consistent with empirical fact. The truth is, we *don’t* know the mechanism by which HaShem created bacteria.

    I am a scientist and I accept 100% all empirical scientific facts. I’d be an absolute fool not to! And I also accept 100% that “there is a god who created this wondrous universe” and indeed that is one reason I dedicate my life to studying it. But there is a lot of ignorance about the nature of science that unfortunately pervades the frum community as well as the non-frum. Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of HaShem or the truth of His Torah. And the Torah is not a book of science or history but a teaching of how to live. The scientific material in our mesorah is not to be used as science lessons but as instruction for us in how to live. Proof that we are not to rely on the science of Chazal is that relying on their medical knowledge was prohibited back in the time of the Gaonim!

    The best explanation of this distinction was actually by a non-Jew, Galileo: Religion is about “how one goes to heaven. not how heaven goes.”

  • #660410

    ZachKessin
    Member

    The idea that life came to Earth from somewhere else (or moved in the other direction) has been floating around for a while. From what I gather its kind of out there as theories go. We know rocks from Mars have made it to earth and vice versa. But if life could have gone with them well thats rather more complex. The evidence for water on Mars in the past is now quite compelling. And in the frozen state in the present we also know that from the various space craft that have beens sent there.

    Of course it does make great late night TV.

  • #660411

    charliehall
    Member

    An example of where modern science expands our awe of our creator: The pshat of Seder Olam Rabbah would indicate that the universe is approximately 6,000 years old, but that is contradicted by empirical evidence, which clearly shows that the universe is billions of years old. The evidence shows that HaShem’s creation is far more vast than Chazal could ever have imagined. We should tremble that even our greatest sages could not comprehend the power and majesty of our creator; kal v’chomer must we feel humble as a result! How appropriate for this time of year to meditate on this in order to improve our yirat shemayim.

  • #660412

    ZachKessin
    Member

    This is actually the “International Year of Astronomy” so a bunch of good cheap scopes have come out. Two important telescope things, don’t buy any scope that says “375x” or the like on the box, it will be junk.

    and

    NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITH A TELESCOPE

  • #660413

    squeak
    Participant

    There are a lot of interesting things to observe in the night sky these days, if that interests you. You won’t even need a telescope for most of them – a good pair of binoculars should be enough.

    For the past few days, getting up in the pre dawn hours for Selichos, I encountered a false dawn. I had to search an astonomy website before I knew what it was – until then I thought it meant that dawn was miscalculated.

    Last night, I saw the Great Red Spot on Jupiter for the first time. It’s not at all a rare thing to see, but I just never took the time to look.

    The asteroid Juno was unusually bright last night as well – it was right next to planet Uranus which is extremely bright these days.

  • #660414

    charliehall
    Member

    ames,

    I wasn’t offended at all, but thank you. There *are* indeed scientists who are anti-religion; I’ve had disputations with them in the past. They abuse science by trying to make it do things it can’t do.

    But just as science can’t prove or disprove our basic religious principles, religion can’t disprove empirical facts!

    May all our conversations be in pursuit of spiritual and empirical truth.

  • #660415

    squeak
    Participant

    The evidence shows that HaShem’s creation is far more vast than Chazal could ever have imagined.

    You need to slow down and think a little bit before posting.

  • #660416

    Joseph
    Member

    charlie disagrees with the Rema, the Maharal, Aruch Hashulchan, Chasam Sofer, Rabbeinu Bachyai, the Alshich, the Radvaz, and the Chida amongst others.

    I choose the Rema, the Maharal, Aruch Hashulchan, Chasam Sofer, Rabbeinu Bachyai, the Alshich, the Radvaz, and the Chida over charlie.

  • #660417

    ZachKessin
    Member

    Jupiter is bright in the early evening sky right now. (Its the brightest thing in the night sky after the moon, you can’t miss it) With a small scope or binoculars you can see the 4 bright moons as well as banding on the planet. If you get the timing right you can see the great red spot as well. You will need to look up when to look for that, see the Sky & Telescope web site for times. Jupiter rotates about once every 10 hours, so it will change night to night, you can even see changes over a few hours if you look carefully. (Sketching helps here).

    There are also times when you can see one or two of the moons moving across the face of the planet, that is very cool to see. Again Sky & Telescope will have times.

  • #660418

    ZachKessin
    Member

    In this I will side with Charlie.

    Full disclaimer, Charlie and I have been friends for years, he was one of the Aidim at my wedding. He is also one of the smartest people I know.

  • #660419

    Joseph
    Member

    Smarter than the Rema, the Maharal, Aruch Hashulchan, Chasam Sofer, Rabbeinu Bachyai, the Alshich, the Radvaz, and the Chida combined?

    Smarter than any one of them.

    I’d take any one of them over any friend and/or eid.

  • #660420

    charliehall
    Member

    Joseph,

    Would you eat a piece of meat that the author of one of your sources had told you was kosher, when you yourself had seen it taken from the carcass of a pig?

    None of the people you cite lived long enough to hear of the discovery of the cosmic background radiation, which proved beyond any doubt (1) the big bang, and (2) the ancient universe. We cannot conjecture what they would have said had they lived into the 1960s and studied the data carefully.

  • #660421

    Joseph
    Member

    Would you eat a piece of meat that the author of one of your sources had told you was kosher, when you yourself had seen it taken from the carcass of a pig?

    Yes, if the posek declared it kosher after having heard my testimony to that effect.

    None of the people you cite lived long enough to hear of the discovery of the cosmic background radiation, which proved beyond any doubt (1) the big bang, and (2) the ancient universe. We cannot conjecture what they would have said had they lived into the 1960s and studied the data carefully.

    Thank G-d for that. They would have said everything they had said already without all that sheker.

  • #660422

    charliehall
    Member

    “Smarter than the Rema, the Maharal, Aruch Hashulchan, Chasam Sofer, Rabbeinu Bachyai, the Alshich, the Radvaz, and the Chida combined?”

    Probably smarter than none of them individually, certainly not smarter than all combined. But today we have access to information they did not have.

    As an example, Rabbeinu Bachya in Chovot HaLevavot has a proof of the existence of God that involves severaly descriptions of the concept of infinity. Many centuries later, it was discovered that his description of the nature of infinity were not accurate. Today any good high school calculus student understands this material. Does that make thousands of high school calculus students smarter than Rabbeinu Bachya? Chas v’shalom! That proof is not necessary for the important spritual truths contained in that sefer.

    The sceptics will use this to disparage everything from Rabbeinu Bachya and to disparage our sages in general. We must not allow this to go unanswered! But denying that our sages did not have access to all the modern information we have at our disposal today is not an valid argument.

  • #660423

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Smarter than any one of them.

    It has nothing to do with being smart and everything to do with being around to see the evidence.

    I see this from yeshiva people all the time – anytime you bring up the idea that X did not know Y, they take it to mean that you think that X is stupid (or less intelligent than modern people who do know Y). But that’s not the case — it’s simply that we, today, live in a society that has the infrastructure and knowledge base to know Y while X did not.

    To give a simple example: Could Rashi have constructed an airplane? The answer, very simply, is no. And that’s not because Rashi was stupid — on the contrary, Rashi was extremely intelligent. But he lived in a society and a time where it would have been impossible for *anyone* to build an airplane. Rashi did not have access to the physics and engineering that we have today. If he lived today, could he have done so? Maybe — but we’ll never know for sure. But to say that he couldn’t do it is not to say that he was stupid or any less intelligent than today’s engineers.

    Similarly, the chachamim that you mentioned, Joseph, did not have access to the scientific evidence that we have today regarding the age of the universe. That doesn’t make them “less intelligent” than Charlie – it just means that they went with whatever information and evidence that they had at the time – just as we do so with the evidence that we have today.

    The Wolf

  • #660424

    Joseph
    Member

    Rashi, Devorim 17:11

    Even if they tell you that right is left and that left is right (you should listen to the sages) certainly if they tell you right is right and left is left.

  • #660425

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Shocked. Completely and utterly shocked.

    The Wolf

  • #660426

    charliehall
    Member

    Joseph, I’m stunned.

  • #660427

    Joseph
    Member

    “Probably smarter than none of them individually”

    Probably?!

  • #660428

    Joseph
    Member

    Wolf:

    The “evidence” they had was the Torah.

    Regarding charlie’s question about the pig, if after knowing all that the psak was its kosher, then kosher it is.

    See the Rashi in Devorim 17:11 I quoted above.

  • #660429

    Anonymous

    Is this going to turn into just another ugly fight?

    Let’s try to stay on topic, or this thread will be closed.

  • #660430

    charliehall
    Member

    Joseph,

    If someone tells me something is permissible and it isn’t, but I do it anyway, I’m over the aveirah, not the person who tells me it is permissible. *I* am responsible for my mitzvah observance. Other rishonim argued with Rashi on that comment, and I’ve seen Rabbi Hershel Schachter write that if was are certain that a rabbi is mistaken in his psak, we MUST not follow it. (Such situations would of course be very rare, and any rabbi would take very seriously any report of a frum Jew telling him that a kosher slaughterhouse was replacing cow with pig meat!)

  • #660431

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    The “evidence” they had was the Torah.

    Joseph, the Torah is NOT a science book. It’s a manual for how to live life.

    The Wolf

  • #660432

    feivel
    Participant

    cosmic background radiation, which proved beyond any doubt (1) the big bang, and (2) the ancient universe.

    be careful what you swallow, even if its not from the carcass of a pig.

    the meaning of the background radiation is well accepted today as indicating a big bang, as was newtons explanation of inertia and motion which anyone before einstein would have literally staked his life on, so rock solid absolute were the “proofs”.

    and which has now been “proven” to be false. (it gives the illusion of being true in an approximate sense, within a range of parameters of time and space but everyone TODAY agrees it is in essence completely false)

    they are having severe difficulties dealing with the heterogeneity of the cosmic background radiation, which is NOT as it should be according to the accepted theory, and are frequently trying out new twists on the theory to try to explain it, unsuccessfully so far.

    a similar problem is the lack of homogeniousity of the cosmic matter (ie galaxies) which also does not fit with the big bang explanation. at one point “inflation” was invoked to explain away the problem, with no evidence whatsoever other than it allowed the theory to stand, or so they thought. then “double inflation” and eventually further “inflations” had to be invoked.

    the old classic theory of spectrographic red shifting of stars of course proves beyond doubt that there was a big bang as the universe is clearly expanding. until it was discovered that the red shifts occur in a quantum manner not analog. they havent figured out what this means, but it is a big problem to say the least.

    you also do not understand who the people are that Joseph mentioned. How could you?

    can an ant understand why the secretary of state paid a visit to a particular foreign dignitary?

    the Chovos Halavovos states that Gedolim like these see without eyes and hear without ears, and a large number of similar sayings throughout the Rishonim, Achronim, and Sefarim.

    dont be fooled, Hashem’s World (Olam meaning HIDDEN, of course) has a complexity, hiddenness, secrets and illusions far beyond what our puny arrogant scientists can even begin to comprehend the existence of.

    technology (the study of open, repeatable, measurable, reproducible events) is one thing. deep theory based on measurements with devices (the underlying rationale for is based on assumptions and suppositions) and the interpretation of is entirely based on other assumptions and suppositions is quite something else.

  • #660433

    charliehall
    Member

    Joseph,

    Regarding the “evidence” for a young universe, that position is not specified directly from the Torah but from Seder Olam Rabbah; there are other sources from our mesorah that would permit an ancient universe. Rambam, Ramban, and especially Rabbi Avraham ben HaRambam all agree that there is no chiyuv to believe the literal truth of any particular midrash/aggadata. Rabbi Avraham’s position is very clear that on that is not the purpose of midrash/aggadata and this position is accepted as seen by the fact that his essay forms the preface to the Ein Yaakov.

  • #660434

    mepal
    Member

    Whats the big deal? They’ll never anyways say a pig is kosher. Nothing here to get so excited about.

  • #660435

    Joseph
    Member

    charlie,

    Regarding answering scientists and those who have blind faith in them about the age of the world, first, just like the flaw in their “vestigial organ” logic, the entire concept of measuring the age of the world the way the scientsts do is based on the assuption that the world was not created by a Creator. But if you say that the world was created the way the Torah tells us it was, that is, a full-blown world, complete with starts visible in the sky, ful-grown trees and animals (and a human), a totally, fully developed and mature world, then their logic falls apart.

    Because when the world was created, it already had an age. In other words, when Adam for instance was created, he was an adult, even though he was one day old; there were fully grown trees; the sun’s light already reached the earth; an entire world existed, full-blown and OLD. How old was the world at the moment it was created? I dont know — it doesnt say. But we do know that it didnt start from scratch. And so lets say a “scientist” would chop down a tree 1 week after it was created and find maybe 50 rings insude – would that prove that the tree was 50 years old? To the scientists it would, and the “tree ring” concept is used as one of their “proofs” that the world is over 6,000 years old. But the truth is it prove no such thing, becuase when the tree was created it was created as an adult, 50 year old tree.

    So even if dating would be accurate, it still doesnt prove that the world was not created 6,000 years ago – because when it was created, it already could have been thousands or millions of quardrillions of years old.

    That is the first thing to understand when dealing with the “true believers” of science. But even if they will come up with somethgin that cannot be explained by the above, there is a Torah principle that you must know that has been used long before any of today’s scientists orbttheir grandparents were born, that tells us that although the world was in fact created 6,000 years ago, we know that it possesses all and every characteristic of a world that is much, much older. The Torah actually expects scientific measurements of the age of the universe to return an age of much, much more than 6,000 years. And we have known this for centuries.

    [this star]

    The Divrei Chaim does not tell us the location of the Yaaros Dvash. But the Divrei Yoel (Simchas Torah p.613) identifies it as being in 2 places: Vol. I, Drush 1 and Drush 15. There, it quotes a Medrash (Rabbah 10:4) that before the Sin of Adam the Mazalos operated much more rapidly. After the Sin, the Mazalos operated much slower and longer. With this Medrash, he explains the fact that we pasken that both the opinion that the world was created in Nisan, and the opinion that the world was created in Tishri, are true. Says the Yaaros Dvash: because the Mazalos operated much more rapidly before the Sin, between the time the Mazalos were created on the 4th day, and the time Adam was created, on the 6th day, the Mazalos had already run their course from Nisan to Tishri.

    The mistake in their system is that they are not measuring the amount of time itself that occurred. They are identifying various events that already happened and are saying:

    1) We measured the amount of time it would take this event to occur

    2) And this event has already occurred

    3) Therefore, the amount of time it would take to make it occur has already elapsed.

    The flaw on that logic is that they only measured how much time it would take if those events would happen NOW, in the post-chet world. But since those events took place before the Chet, they took much less time, and so the occurrence of those events does not indicate the elapse of nearly as much time as the scientists think.

    If they would find a way to measure time itself, meaning the amount of moments that transpired during the course of history, they would come up with 6,000 years.

    Evolution, by definition, means “slow progress”, the opposite of revolution, which means sudden progress. When did this “evolution” supposedly occur?

    Besides, there is no viable evidence for evolution. The evidence is evidence only assuming there is no Creator. All the similarities between us and monkeys are, to us, meaningless, because theres no reason to assume that one Creator did not create many of His creations with similar physicality. But if you assume there is no creator, then the quesiton arises: how do you explain the similarities between us and lower species? And besides — how in the world did such complex “animals” such as humans get here anyway? There are two options” fast or slow. Fast makes no sense if there is no creator. And the whole vestigial thing makes no sense also, as you noticed.

    The Torah says the world was created in 6 days. And that Rashi says explicitly that when the Torah says Vayehi Erev Vayehi Voker Yom Echad it means 24 hours.

    The 6 days of creation were in fact 24 hours. How could they not be? Aren’t days 24 hours now? So when did this change? Where does it indicate in the slightest that the first Sunday after creation (or the first Shabbos?) was suddenly shorter than previous days??

    On the contrary – it’s clear that on the fourth day Hashem said the sun should shine during the time-period that was called “day” and the stars/darkness should rule during the time-period called “night”. Since then, that hasnt changed, and obvisouly, as we can see today, the sun and the stars have decided that the time period called day plus the time period called night, are 24 hours.

    The Gemora says this expicitly. It describes 10 things that were created on the first day of creation, one of which is the “length of the day and night” – as it says, “vayehi erev vayehi voke yom echad”. So the time span of the day was created on the first day of creation. And, as Rashi states, it means “[the day and night together] – i.e. 24 hours between them”.

    G-d does not leave “room for doubt” in the sense that there is something for an objective person to doubt, when it comes to the existence of a Creator. All it means is that we have Bechirah to deny or to dount even though our denial or doubt make no sense.

    It’s a simple as a judge presiding over an open-and-shut case where the defendent is guilty. Open and shut, nothing to discuss. But the defendent is the judge’s own brother. The question is, will he say the truth or deny the truth – either to himself or to the public.

    Same with our Emunah. The existnece hashem is na open-and-shut case. But all the Yezter Horahs in the world tell us to deny it, in order to throw off all our restrictions. The question is, will we fool ourselves.

    The Ran says that the reason the aseres hadibros starts with Anochi Hashem, as opposed to “Thou shalt believe in me”, is because they certianly did believe before kabbalas hatorah, because anybody who is not an idiot (or willing to fool himself into being one) surely believes, since G-d’s existnce is so obvious. So it was meaningless for Hashem to tell them “thou shalt bleieve”. Instead, He introduced Himslef, as if to say “The G-d that you believe in — I am He!” Anochi hashem. And the Mitzvah of Emunah is therefore to believe not that G-d exists, since that’s simplicity – but to believe that the G-d that surely exists is the entity that took us our of Egypt and gave us the Torah — to bleieve that “I”. i.e. the One talking to us on Har Sinai, is in fact the G-d that we all know must exist.

    And no, I dont believe that people would find plenty of “scientific proofs” that there is no Hashem. I say that because they havent done so before or after evolution, since the idea of Kadmus Haolam, which has been logically disproven long ago.

    It’s simple math: the world is either accident or intelligence. If you want to be an atheist, your choice is accident.

    If accident. it was either at once or in stages. But that such a highly developed world can accidently all come at once , like “boom!” theres people, males, females. food, water, air, sunlight etc” all suddenly and at the same time is currently inexplicable.

    That leaves graduality, which means evolution.

    The exact mechanism whereby the graduality supposedly took place – survival of the fittest, sudden mutation, etc – is where the theories come in. But if youre goign to be an atheist, youre goign to have to find some way to validate evolution, because until they find somethgin else, evolution is the only way to explain a G-dless world. Thats why its worth spending our time showing what nonsense evolution is, because today, thats all the atheists have to hang their hats on. Once thats not an option, there is nothing left for them.

    And if they come up with some other silly idea, that too, will be worth spending our time to expose. But right now, this is all they have. And it is nothing.

    (reposted from elsewhere)

  • #660436

    Rambam Hilchos Korbonos 13:13

    ??? ?? ?? ??? ?????? ?????? ?? ?? ??????–??? ??? ??? ??????, ??? ?????? ??????. ????: ???? ??? ??? ????? ??? ????? ????, ???? ??? ?? ???? ???? ????? ????? ????, ????? ???? ??????, ???? ???? ?? ???? ????? ????? ???? ???, ?? ?? ?? ??? ?????–??? ?? ????? ???? ???? ????? ?? ??????, ????? ????? ?????? ??????? ?? ????.

  • #660437

    Joseph
    Member

    Rashi says explicitly each day of creation was 24 hours. See as well the Divrei Chaim (Chanuka p.45 col. 4) quoted above.

    The Gemora says this expicitly. It describes 10 things that were created on the first day of creation, one of which is the “length of the day and night” – as it says, “vayehi erev vayehi voke yom echad”. So the time span of the day was created on the first day of creation. And, as Rashi states, it means “[the day and night together] – i.e. 24 hours between them”.

  • #660438

    Joseph
    Member

    Torah is to the natural world what a bluprint is to its edifice, or what DNA is to an organism. Histakel B’Oraysa Ubara Alma – Hashem looked inot the Torah, and created the world as a relfection of it. This happened because the very reason – the only reason – the world was created in the first place was as a tool to fulfill the Torah. How can you fulfill the Mitzvah of Pri Etz Hadar without an Esrog tree? How can you fulfill the MItzvah of Kibud Av Va’em if you dont have parents? How can you make Kiddush Friday night without such things as night, or wine, or words?

    Those are easy examples. But Hashem does nothing without a reaosn, and creates nothing witout a reason. And if Hashem created it, it has one reaosn and one reaosn only: to facilitate the fulfillment of the Torah. Because without that reason, the world whad no reaosn to exist.

    So everything in the world – every little detail, every little subatomic particle, every litttle spec of space dust – is here to somehow faciliatate the fulfillment of the Toah. Just as every part of a car is to faciliatate the comfortable and efficent transportation of humans from one place to another, so too every part of the world is to faciliatate the transportaiton of humans to Gan Eden by way of Kiyum HaTorah.

    But a differnece between a car and the Torah is, whereas there may have been several possible version of how to make a car, and several possible alternatives to the actual car that was created that would have facilitated juts s well the goal of transporting people form on place to another- differnet typoes of cars, trucks, planes, bicycles, etc – there was only ONE possible way to facilitate the goal of getitng people into Gan Eden, and that was by creating this particular world. No other world, not even in te slightest detail, would have done the job.

    Just as the Torah is infinitely precise in its details, so does the natural world reflect the infinite precision of the Torah. WHen Hashem created an Esrog, which shaken in the proper manner, would connect the shaker’s soul to Hashem Himself in the particular way that the speciifc Mitzvah of velkachtem lachem pri etz hadar does, He created the Esrog, the jointsand limbs of the person shaking it, the water and soil and sunlight and gasses that the Esrog consolidates, the mind and body of the perosn shaking the esrog, the circumstances surrounding the buying of the esrog – its value, its purchase price, the precise difficulty invovled in obtaining it, — every single factor that comprises the act of the mitzvah, its nisyonos, and its ramifications — were created with infinite precison, down to the sub atomic level in order to best produce the desired effect.

    Because the world itself – the entire universe – is desgined to be the place where, when Moshiach comes, the spiritual energey that was emitted upon the performance of the Mitzvos, combined with Hashem’s revelaiton of His Oneness, matures into the spiritual environment Olam Habah, which is en enternal conneciton betwen the Mitzvah-doers and Hashem Himlsef, the entire world, every molecule and sub atomic element it consists of, every single segment of time and space itself, every sub-sub-sub atomic component of every single square micro-inch of the entire universe, was created in a way that it will fulfill its spiritual purpose – of untimately onnecting humans to Hashem through its being used bu humans to be turned into a connection between the human body-and-soul, and Hashem.

    That was the only single solitary idea that Hashem had in mind when creaitng the world. That was the only single solitary reason the world was made. ANd just as Hashem is one, and the Torah is one, and could not e any other way, the world, in order to fulfill its purpose as becoming the connection to Hashem was created in the only way it could have been, using the Torah as its blurprint, as its DNA. ANd that mean not only the physical shell of the world, but every single nuance of every single sub-atomic detail of the wordl, was created using the Torah as its bluepirnt. The Torah and nothign else is what the world reflects, on aninfinitely sublime level.

    This is why the Rambam states (Yesodei Hatorah 2:2) that the natural world contains “wisdom that has no measure and no end”. Because juts as the Torah has infinite wosdom, so does the world, which is a reflection of it.

    The calculations and details that went into this world are bottomless. And its nature reflects the nature of the Torah itself; is details reflect the details of the Torah, in the same way that the details of the organizsm reflect the details of the DNA molecule.

    So far we know that nature and Torah relate in that the Torah actually dictates what goes on in nature – histakel b’oraisa ubarah almah – just as the blueprint of a building decides how the building will be built, the Torah, in the same sense, decided how nature works. And just as the DNA controls the structure and makeup of the organizsm, so too it is the Torah the controls the structure and makeup of the world. There is not a single spec of the natural universe that is not ruled and determined by the Torah. As Rabbeinu Bachyai writes in the Introduction to Chumash, all wisdom and science in existence is contained in the Torah.

    And the opposite is true as well – the Avos knew and fulfilled the entire Torah even though it had not yet been revealed by Hashem. Avorohom Avinu made and donned a pair of Tefillin. Now there are maybe 10 or so Halachos L’Moshe Misinai invovled in making a pair of tefillin. How did Avrohom Avinu know how to make a pair of Tefillin?

    The answer is that Hashem looked inot the Torah and bsaed on it, decophered nature; Avrohom re-performed that process the other way: He looked inot the Tevah, the natural universe, and decphered the principles upon which it was based, the reasons wy it was created in precisely the way it was, and, with preision accuracy, the details of that Torah which is reflected in nature. He looked, for instance, at his own body, and he deciphered from his 248 limbs and his 365 sinews, the 248 Mitzvos aseh and the 365 mitzvos lo saaseh. He deciphered the Torah by studying its reflection – the universe – the same way a skilled architect can decipher the blueprint of a building by studying the building.

    So he made a pair of Tefillin.

    Nature is created by, from, and as a reflection of Torah. Nature follows Torah law, not vice-versa. And although nature, on the surface, follows surface-level physical laws, on a deeper level, on the deepest, deepest level of science, all of nature, all of the universe, follows a system of laws that are designed to facilitate the purpose of Creation, namely, its enetual maturation, nurtured by the study of Torah and performance of Mitzvos by the Jewish nation, into a spiritual entity known as Olam Habah.

    In a nutshell, those Laws of Nature are simply a reflection of the Laws of the Torah itself. When the physical universe, which is a reflection of Torah, is nurtured by the Torah-acts of the Am Segulah, it becomes a vessel for the conneciton of the souls and bodies of the Am Segulah to the Creator of the Torah.

    That is the cosmology of the world in a nutshell.

    So the natural world and the Torah are inexorably connected. The Torah is the blueprint of the natural world, and the natural world is a reflection of the Torah. Avrohom, Avinu, or someone on his level, could look into nature and discover how to make a pair of Tefiillin; and Chazal were able to loo inot the Tora and discover thigns about nature. [Rabeinu bachya, Ramban].

    But there is a reason that the natural world was tied to the deepest levels of the Torah. G-d could have made a world whose blueprint was physical laws or someother system of rules. Why did Hashem chose the Torah as the blueprint of creation?

    And that is how Avrohom Avinu made a pair of Tefillin by looking into the natural world with the eyes and understanding of the Avos, and saw how the world needs Tefillin in order to fulfill its purpose, and how exactly those Tefillin need to be made. By seeing the sleeve, oyu can understand the shape pf the arm, and by seeing an arm you can understand the design of the sleeve.

    That is the relationship between Torah and the natural world.

    (reposted from elsewhere)

  • #660439

    Joseph
    Member

    The scientific knowledge of our sages.

    Scientific facts in Chazal and rabbinic tradition can be divided into two categories:

    (a) Scientific facts that are taken from the Torah itself, and

    (b) Scientific facts that were known by Chazal based on their knowledge of science.

    The most recent example of this is the Chazon Ish ZTL, who lived in our times, and had no secular education at all, yet showed much knowledge of math and astronomy, much of which can be seen in his teshuva on the international dateline.

    (reposted from elsewhere)

  • #660440

    Joseph
    Member

    WHY G-D CREATED THE WORLD

    Once upon a time, there was only G-d, The Perfect Being.

    And G-d, being Good and Benevolent, wanted to bestow this feeling of perfect happiness on others. So He had a plan to create others that can enjoy this infinite, amazing G-d-Pleasure, just like He Himself does. But there was a problem.

    The answer: Create beings that have the ability to connect to G-d in such a way that they can actually be part of G-d, but with their own individual identity. Since they are part of G-d, connected to His essence, they will be able to enjoy the G-d pleasure, but only to the extent that they are connected.

    So this is what He did:

    This blueprint is called the Torah.

    The connection with Hashem is called Olam Habbah.

    But there was more work to be done. In order to fulfill the Torah, man needed tools. There is a Mitzvah in the Torah of honoring parents. That means man will have to have parents. There is a Mitzvah to fast on Yom Kippur, so man will have to have a need for food. And the food itself would also have to be created.

    In order for man to fulfill the Torah, an entire world will have to be created, and man will have to be given a physical body with which to do Mitzvos.

    So Hashem created the whole, entire, physical Universe.

    And so Hashem gave us the Torah.

    (reposted from elsewhere)

    Joseph, no more long posts

  • #660441

    NY Mom
    Member

    Ames!!! Look what you have started with this thread!

  • #660442

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    scientists and those who have blind faith in them about the age of the world (emphasis mine)

    There’s your first error.

    EDITED

    The Wolf

  • #660443

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    WHY G-D CREATED THE WORLD

    How is this relevant to the discussion? Science doesn’t concern itself with why God created the world.

    The Wolf

  • #660445

    Joseph
    Member

    Rashi, Devorim 17:11

    Even if they tell you that right is left and that left is right (you should listen to the sages) certainly if they tell you right is right and left is left.

    Charlie: “Other rishonim argued with Rashi on that comment”

    Name me ONE Charlie, name me one please.

    EDITED

  • #660446

    EDITED

    Also note the Rambam in Hilchos Shiggagos 13:13 (Machon Mamre), if someone is Over something they know is Assur because Beis Din says it is Muttar, then the person who did it is personally Chayiv a Chatas and can not be included in the Par H’elam Da’var

    ??? ?? ?? ??? ?????? ?????? ?? ?? ??????–??? ??? ??? ??????, ??? ?????? ??????. ????: ???? ??? ??? ????? ??? ????? ????, ???? ??? ?? ???? ???? ????? ????? ????, ????? ???? ??????, ???? ???? ?? ???? ????? ????? ???? ???, ?? ?? ?? ??? ?????–??? ?? ????? ???? ???? ????? ?? ??????, ????? ????? ?????? ??????? ?? ????.

  • #660447

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Joseph,

    Please don’t cut and paste long blocks of text from elsewhere. Please summarize and answer in your own words. I answer you with my own words — not with cut-and-paste pages from elsewhere… I respectfully ask for the same courtesy in return.

    The Wolf

  • #660448

    The Rambam that follows is even more pointed than the first: (Shiggagos 13:17)

    ???? ??? ??? ?????, ????? ???? ????, ????? ???? ???? ???, ??? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????–??? ???? ?????? ?? ?????: ??? ??? ??????, ???? ?? ??? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ????; ??? ?????? ?????? ?? ?????, ???? ??? ??????–???? ???? ????, ????? ???? ?????.

    If they (the people) knew Beis Din was wrong, then only the people are Chayiv (and are Mayzid!) as THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE FOLLOWED BEIS DIN!

  • #660449

    Juris Doctor
    Member

    EDITED

    Seriously, folks. Either you accept reality or you don’t. The choice is quite simple. But in any event, do not pretend to clothe your emunah peshutah in the garb of false rationality.

    I have no problem (theoretically, at least) with somebody saying, “I acknowledge the evidence, but I still believe to the contrary.” Just don’t claim that you can actually dispute the evidence on the merits.

  • #660450

    feivel
    Participant

    Seriously, folks. Either you accept reality or you don’t.

    yes.

    quite

  • #660451

    squeak
    Participant

    JD – you must have really excelled in argumentation. I can see the jury nodding as we speak.

  • #660452

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I’m fairly certain the Yerushalmi in Horiyos makes the exact opposite point that the Sifri makes (as brought down by Rashi). The Yerushalmi there states that you follow the chachamim *only* when they tell you that left is left and that right is right.

    The Wolf

  • #660453

    Juris Doctor
    Member

    Squeak – no need for the sarcasm.

    Also regarding “left is right and right is left” – you are aware that according to the vast majority of commentaries (the Chinuch notwithstanding), this only applies to the Beis Din Hagadol (Sanhedrin) concerning halachic matters.

  • #660454

    onlyemes
    Member

    To Editor 26,

    Yesterday I wrote that the world is billions of years old and you deleted it with the comment “Totally off topic”. I hope you realize that this was a mistake, as many posts have concentrated on this very point.

    Legufo shel inyan, there is no question that the universe was created billions of years ago and that this is one of the fundamental tenets of astronomy; studying it without this assumption is foolish.

    Again, those who feel this is kefirah, stay away from it; you are entitled to your opinion. But I am of the belief it is not kefirah, on the contrary, denying it is denying God’s universe itself.

    Chazal knew what was known in their time , but not more. This should be obvious. Chazal and rabbanim only 200 years ago believed in the existence of mermaids. If one wants to believe in mermaids, it’s his prerogative. But then he should not expect to be taken seriously on any discussion concerning science.

  • #660455

    Anonymous

    onlyemes, yesterday you were off topic. Today you are not. That’s why your post went up.

  • #660456

    jewishsoul
    Member

    Did anyone else watch “Exodus from Egypt: The Hidden Agenda” by Rabbi Fohrman on Aish.com? He includes some fascinating info on the Big Bang from a Torah perspective.

  • #660457

    jewishsoul
    Member

    Didn’t mermaids play a part in ????? ??

  • #660458

    feivel
    Participant

    there is no question that the universe was created billions of years ago

    there is no question to you

    that this is one of the fundamental tenets of astronomy; studying it without this assumption is foolish.

    yes i agree it is an assumption. and the whole rest of astronomy is based on this ASSUMPTION. there is also of course the second assumption: that there is not a creator.

    Chazal knew what was known in their time , but not more. This should be obvious.

    it is not at all obvious to me. im glad though that the minds, Nevius, and capabilities of Chazal are obvious to you.

  • #660459

    Joseph
    Member

    “Chazal knew what was known in their time , but not more.”

    The Chasam Sofer (Beshalach) writes Chazal know science from the Torah.

    The Aruch Hashulchan (EH 13) writes someone who disagrees with Chazal on scientific matters, testifies about himself that he does not believe in Torah she bal peh, even though he would be embarrassed to admit it outright.

    There are many additional meforshim stating the same. But this is a good start.

  • #660460

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    If your faith and yiddishkeit are strong, there is no danger in studying science and astronomy in particular. I’ve studied astronomy and it only increased my wonder and isnpiration at Hashem’s creations. Science and astronomy address the “how” of observable phenomena, they do not address the why? Science doesn’t purport to answer why the universe is here. As a Jew, I know the answer to that- because it is the will of Hashem. But science can answer questions about why certain things appear to humans to be a certain way.

  • #660461

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    The Aruch Hashulchan (EH 13) writes someone who disagrees with Chazal on scientific matters, testifies about himself that he does not believe in Torah she bal peh, even though he would be embarrassed to admit it outright.

    Of course, that’s assuming that every word of “Torah SheB’Al Peh” that we have today came from Sinai and was transmitted down to the Chazal without error or deviation… but that’s another argument for another day. 🙂

    The Wolf

  • #660462

    rebetzin
    Member

    Charlie Hall,

    Can you explain the definition of empirical facts?

    Were there ever empirical facts that were later disproven? Or is that a contradiction?

    Thanks

  • #660463

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    The Maharal writes (Chidushei Agados Menachos 64b) that all science is included in Torah.

    That may or may not be true. But even if true, that doesn’t mean that Chazal knew every bit of it. IOW, I could have a document from the Creator that contains all the secrets of the universe — and I may even be very knowledgeable in that document. But that doesn’t mean that I know *everything* about it and can therefore build faster-than-light spaceships.

    The Torah tells us that 130 + 800 = 930. But I can also make that statement based on observation. So, if I state that 130 + 800 = 930, why do you assume that I got it from the Torah? Perhaps I did the math myself?

    Furthermore, if the science that Chazal said is wrong, shouldn’t it be obvious that it’s based on their own chachmos and not from a mesorah?

    The Wolf

  • #660464

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    This will be the last long post approved in this thread…unless 26 approves it.

    The following essay, part of Ohr Somayach’s forthcoming “Torah and Nature” series, deals with this issue:

    At the beginning of the nineteenth century, strange artifacts began to be discovered. They were bones, bones of gigantic and monstrous creatures the like of which had never before been heard of. Sir Richard Owen, the renowned British paleontologist, coined the collective term Dinosauria, Greek for “terrible lizards.”

    Even the plant-eating dinosaurs were awe-inspiring. Triceratops, larger than an elephant, had a fearsome array of horns on its armored skull. The large sauropods, Brachiosaurus and Ultrasaurus, weighed more than eighty tons and stood as tall as a five-story building. But the meat-eating dinosaurs were downright terrifying. And none more so than the greatest predator ever to walk the earth. Twenty feet tall and forty feet long, with a massive head boasting six-inch fangs, Tyrannosaurus Rex, the “king tyrant lizard,” was a fearsome beast indeed.

    Dinosaurs are terrifying creatures. Fortunately, there aren’t too many of them around nowadays, so there is little to fear. But some Jews do still walk around in fear of dinosaurs. However, this has nothing to do with the dinosaurs’ extreme size or their tendency to crush or eat anything in their way. It has more to do with their very existence. Paleontologists assert that dinosaurs lived hundreds of millions of years ago, while the Jewish calendar sets the age of the universe at under 6000 years plus six creation days.

    I remember a young student in yeshiva once drawing me aside in a conspiratorial manner.

    “Do you believe in dinosaurs?” he asked me in a hushed tone.

    “No,” I replied, surprised. “I believe in G-d.”

    I wasn’t sure as to exactly which religion he belonged to (The New Age Temple of the Dinosaur Worshippers, perhaps?),but as far as I’m concerned, it’s only G-d, and religious affairs, that are matters of belief. (And even with those, we’re not talking about blind faith, but rather acknowledgment based on firm evidence and reasoning.)

    Dinosaurs aren’t a matter of belief. The fossils really exist; I own one myself. How one interprets these fossils is a different matter.

    It has been suggested that G-d placed fossils in the ground as a test of our faith. There are two main difficulties with this explanation.

    The first objection is that it’s not a particularly good test. As we shall see, there is more than plenty of room for accepting the former existence of dinosaurs and the Divinity of Torah.

    The second objection is that, without being overly presumptuous about G-d’s ways, everything that we know about Him tells us that He doesn’t act that way. G-d does not create evidence against His Torah and ask us to blind ourselves to it with a leap of faith. Rather, He presents us with evidence for His existence, and preserves free will by implanting within us a powerful ability to ignore that which is inconvenient.

    This point is powerfully presented by Rav Elchanan Wasserman, zatzal. He raises the question of how a twelve year old girl or a thirteen year old boy can be commanded in the mitzvah of emunah, faith, which the brilliant Aristotle didn’t even manage. His answer is that emunah just requires one to draw the logical conclusions from the evidence that surrounds us; if great minds slip up, that is because of personal agendas.

    Nature points towards G-d, not away from Him. We are told, “Lift your eyes upon high and perceive Who created these!” (Yeshayah 40:26); and that “The heavens speak of G-d’s glory, and the sky tells of His handiwork!” (Tehillim 19:2). Contemplating nature is not only a means to affirm G-d’s existence, but also, as Rambam explains, the fulfillment of another mitzvah:

    This honored and awesome G-d – it is a mitzvah to love Him and to fear Him… And how does one come to love and fear Him? When man contemplates the great wonders of His deeds and creations, and he perceives from them His boundless and infinite wisdom, instantly he loves and praises and gives glory, and he has a great desire to know G-d… And when he contemplates these matters, he instantly recoils and is in awe, and he knows that he is a small, dismal, lowly creature, standing with a minuscule weakness of intellect before the Perfect Wisdom… (Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 2:1-2).

    Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi, in his famous work the Kuzari (1:67), writes that “Heaven forbid that there should be anything in the Torah to contradict that which is manifest or proved.” Likewise, Heaven forbid that there should be anything manifest or proved which would contradict anything in the Torah. If one is convinced that G-d wrote the Torah and created the world, then one should fear no scientific discovery. Conversely, if one is afraid of what the scientists will discover, then one is clearly not fully aware that everything discoverable was created by G-d.

    But doesn’t the apparent age of the dinosaurs contradict the Torah? Well, to claim so, one would have to claim to understand what the Torah actually means with its account of Creation. But this raises many matters of interpretation; for example, how do you measure a “day” when the sun is only created on the fourth one? How do you determine the flow of time when it varies depending on how near you are to objects of large gravitational mass? Since we have so little understanding of these matters, how can dinosaurs frighten us?

    Far from being frightened by dinosaurs, Rabbi Yisrael Lifshitz, author of the Tiferet Yisrael commentary on the Mishna, received the news of fossil discoveries in the nineteenth century with delight. As he had undoubtedly expected, they confirmed everything that we knew all along. He writes:

    [Editor’s note: Interestingly, many paleontologists also consider there to have been four eras: the Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic.]

    We are enabled to appreciate to the full the wonderful accuracy of our Holy Torah when we see that this secret doctrine, handed down by word of mouth for so long, and revealed to us by the Sages of the Kabbalah many centuries ago, has been borne out in the clearest possible way by the science of our generation.

    The questing spirit of man, probing and delving into the recesses of the earth, in the Pyrenees, the Carpathians, the Rocky Mountains in America, and the Himalayas, has found them to be formed of mighty layers of rock lying upon one another in amazing and chaotic formations, explicable only in terms of revolutionary transformations of the earth’s surface.

    Probing still further, deep below the earth’s surface, geologists have found four distinct layers of rock, and between the layers fossilized remains of creatures. Those in the lower layers are of monstrous size and structure, while those in the higher layers are progressively smaller in size but incomparably more refined in structure and form.

    Similarly, fossilized remains of sea creatures have been found within the recesses of the highest mountains, and scientists have calculated that of every 78 species found in the earth, 48 are species that are no longer found in our present epoch.

    We also know of the remains of an enormous creature found deep in the earth near Baltimore, seventeen feet long and eleven feet high. These have also been found in Europe, and have been given the name “mammoth.” Another gigantic creature whose fossilized remains have been found is that which is called “Iguanadon,” which stood fifteen feet high and measured ninety feet in length; from its internal structure, scientists have determined that it was herbivorous. Another creature is that which is called “Megalosaurus,” which was slightly smaller than the Iguanodon, but which was meat-eating.

    From all this, we can see that all that the Kabbalists have told us for so many years about the repeated destruction and renewal of the earth has found clear confirmation in our time.

    (Tiferet Yisrael, in Derush Ohr HaChayyim, found in Mishnayot Nezikin after Masechet Sanhedrin)

    Huge and fearsome creatures that they were, dinosaurs can’t possibly be a threat to the religious Jew. As G-d’s creations, they are another example of His wondrous might. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

    Thank you for citing the source. 26

  • #660465

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    As an aside, I always wondered the following about the following question that perhaps someone from the “Chazal knew all of science” chevra can answer?

    Who dropped the ball on the cure for cancer?

    If Chazal knew all of science, they must have also had a cure for cancer. They got it from Moshe, who passed it to Yehoshua, to the Nevi’im, etc., down to Chazal.

    Now, perhaps it’s true that even if Chazal had the cure, they didn’t have the infrastructure to mass produce it. But they must have transmitted the cure down to the generations, as they did with the rest of the Torah.

    That being the case, I’m fairly certain that today we have the infrastructure to mass produce and distribute medication. However, I don’t see any of today’s rabbanim coming forward with a cure to this terrible disease. I would presume, therefore (and please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) that today’s rabbanim don’t have this cure – i.e., it’s been lost.

    That means that somewhere along the way, the transmission of this was broken. If so, who broke the chain? Who lost the cure for cancer?

    The Wolf

  • #660466

    squeak
    Participant

    Wolf – the Sefer HaRefuos was hidden because it was misused.

  • #660468

    feivel
    Participant

    if you dont understand Chazal at least dont EDITED

    they knew what they needed to know

    they probably couldnt rebuild a carburetor either

  • #660470

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Wolf – the Sefer HaRefuos was hidden because it was misused.

    That’s fine. Then substitute some other non-medical technology which would be highly beneficial to society.

    The Wolf

  • #660471

    starwolf
    Member

    Of course, if one takes the Torah to be a blueprint for the world, one can say that all knowledge is included within. However, that knowledge cannot be easily accessed. To say that *all* scientific knowledge was known to the Gdolei Hador ascribes to them supernatural powers that border on avoda zarah, and to believe in Rabbinic infallibility in nonhalachic matters is, in my opinion, reminiscent of a tenet of a religion other than ours.

    We certainly know Rabbinic sources that were geniuses, and remarkably well-learned. Some of them were remarkably well-learned even in the natural sciences. How much of that scientific knowledge was passed on to us? Do you really think that any of the Rishonim knew about the causes and cures of diseases? Many of these things we have learned through empirical–i.e. scientific study. Does anyone think that the Gdolim of times past had this information and would not use it to save their fellow Jews from the horrors of disease?

    One can certainly take the approach of refusal to learn science out of fear that it would cause one to lose faith in Torah. In my opinion, this implies little faith in the Torah and one’s education.

    However, to come up with statements that “there is no evidence for evolution” is nonsense. There are hundreds of scientific papers published on evolution every year. I would be willing to bet that the people who make statements about the lack of scientific evidence are not familiar with that scientific literature. In other words, they are arguing about a subject of which they are ignorant. The people who work on evolution are quite familiar with the rules of scientific evidence, thank you.

    There are a good many shomer mitzvot scientists who have no problem whatsoever reconciling their faith and the scientific process. of course, we know that there are Rabbinic sources forbidding such knowledge, and insisting that the Rabbanim knew more in every sphere than anyone else. however, there are Rabbinic sources arguing against such theories as well, as was cited by Charlie earlier in this thread. It is clear that those of us who choose scientific study for our live (in addition to Torah)would not accept the former. One does not learn about immunology from the Gemara, nor does one learn about red shift. It might be possible to do so, but we have lost the knowledge of how to do it, if we ever had it.

    If, on the other hand, you have a question about WHY the universe was created, there is no way to address this through scientific inquiry. The methodology involved (and the rules are very strict)simply cannot address this question, just as it cannot address the question of the existence of a Creator, or moral issues.

  • #660472

    Joseph
    Member

    The Rema in Toras HaOlah (1:2) states clearly that we assume rabbinic science to be infallible, and ancient rabbinic knowledge of astronomy complete.

  • #660473

    BS’D:

    WolfishMusings:

    Actually, Chazal (being Rashbam & Tosfos) say that the diagonal of a rectangle 4×6 is either equal (Rashbam) or less (Tosfos) than the diagonal of a square 5×5. So I would have not liked to have learned Math from them.

    (Bava Basra 102a)

    (For those who don’t know, a 4×6 rectangle has a larger diagonal (4^2 + 6^2)^.5 = 52^.5 ~ 7.21 than a 5×5 square (5^2 x 2)^.5 = 50^.5 ~ 7.07.

    (I don’t intend to be mean, but) I see no point in further discussion with someone who would be willing to eat Chazer because he doesn’t understand that the Chachomim are not Malachim and/or are not omniscient. I don’t see why you are bothering.

  • #660474

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    The Rema in Toras HaOlah (1:2) states clearly that we assume rabbinic science to be infallible, and ancient rabbinic knowledge of astronomy complete.

    Even when you have direct evidence to the contrary?

    Chazal say that lice don’t come from eggs (and therefore we can kill them on Shabbos). However, we can observe that lice, in fact, do come from eggs laid by other lice.

    If I were to show you a louse hatching from an egg, what would you tell me? That what I’m seeing is not, in fact, happening? That I’m witnessing an illusion? Or would you just close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears and go “la-la-la I see nothing!” at the top of your lungs?

    What would you do when presented with direct evidence that Chazal were wrong on a point of science?

    The Wolf

  • #660475

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    Joseph- when you are sick do you go to a doctor or a Rabbi?

  • #660476

    Joseph
    Member

    Shabbos 112b:

    Our Chachomim are b’nei malachim.

    What would you do when presented with direct evidence that Chazal were wrong on a point of science?

    Such evidence does not, and never will, exist. Including the lice issue. (See my earlier post discussing it.)

  • #660477

    areivimzehlazeh
    Participant

    a Grand Welcome goes out to Just-a-guy!

    Hey- remember that in this here Coffee Room you aint just a guy- you’re a privileged CR member!

    Stick around and join the fun 🙂

  • #660478

    I was once told by a person that he holds it is a safek doraysa l’chumra so it is completely forbidden to kill lice. I’m disgusted by the freethinking, and lack of emunas chachomim. We have to accept that Chazal were above us and our brains. Btw not that this is emes, but maybe all Chazal meant that l’inyan the m’lochoh of netilas neshoma it has to come from a certain type of egg etc. like by bishul Chazal were koveia that a kli sheini is ossur, kli shlishi is mutor etc. We should use our brains to reconcile Chazal and find out biyun what they mean, not chas veshalom ridicule them and forbid killing lice

  • #660479

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Such evidence does not, and never will, exist. Including the lice issue. (See my earlier post discussing it.)

    No, you did NOT address it in your previous post. EDITED

    Allow me to summarize:

    Chazal said that lice can be killed on Shabbos because they don’t come from eggs.

    Your post brought several approaches:

    1. The Pachad Yitzchock suggested that perhaps now that we know better than Chazal on this matter, we should not allow the killing of lice.

    2. Rav Yehuda Breil ZTL rejected this by saying that it is certain that rabbinic science is more accurate than empirical science – and that the rabbinic point of view will eventually be proven correct.

    3. Others (your source did not specify who) state that the halacha is independent of the fact that it is based on. IOW, regardless of whether or not lice come from eggs, you can kill them on Shabbos. The reason was just a vehicle to convey the actual halacha.

    So, of the three aproaches, at least two of them allow for the possibility that Chazal can err in science (one suggests that the halacha should change because of it and the other says it shouldn’t — but both make the underlying assumption that the science of Chazal can be proven wrong.

    As for the second approach, I don’t quite see how you can fit that into the lice case. If I actually show you a louse coming from an egg, how can you go back and say that Chazal were right and they don’t come from eggs?

    Or is it your approach that it’s impossible to show you that lice come from eggs?

    The Wolf

  • #660480

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    not chas veshalom ridicule them

    Poshite,

    No one is ridiculing Chazal here.

    The Wolf

  • #660481

    I think (you can argue) but I think to say they’re wrong is a horrible bizoyon to chazal. End of the day, it’s mutor to kill lice on Shabbos. Btw I’m not mad at u if u dont understand I’m just crying about how people can think such hava aminos about Chazal. Plz dont put up a fight even if u dont agree

  • #660482

    Joseph
    Member

    (Mods please forgive me one more time for the length of this post. Thanks)

    Should a human not have a Neshama or a Nefesh, he is not a human, but an organic construct; should someone create an organic machine that mimics plant life in every biological way possible, it may still be considered a Domem, if it lacks the spiritual Nefesh HaTzomeches.

    (reposted from elsewhere)

  • #660483

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I think (you can argue) but I think to say they’re wrong is a horrible bizoyon to chazal.

    Do you think that respectful disagreement is impossible?

    I have an obligation to honor my father, but that doesn’t mean that if he says “Invest your money in a Uranium field in Asbury Park” that I have to actually take my 401(k) money and do so. I can respectfully disagree with him regarding the profitability of such a venture. The same applies to scientific statements of Chazal — I can disagree respectfully. Disagreement in and of itself is not disrespect.

    The Wolf

  • #660484

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    BS”D

    Neither Chazal nor anyone else dropped the ball on the cure for cancer. Hashem for whatever reason has not yet revealed the cure for malignant illness.

    The Rambam was most probably a far greater doctor and certainly far more intelligent and righteous than the discoverer of penicillin (Fleming?). For one thing, the Rambam spoke of aerobic exercise and dietary restraint when people believed in resting and overeating.

    But Hashem instead decided to reveal penicillin, a mold that existed since the beginning of time, to a non-Jew who was not even looking to mold as an antibiotic, but who somehow chose not to throw out his moldy petri dish. The penicillin was there, but it was Hashem Who decided how and when to reveal it.

    And He did so during World War 2, to a British scientist who was charged with preventing infections in soldiers who were wounded while stopping the most vicious tzoirer ha-Yehudim of all times yemach shmo.

    When the Rofe Koil Bosor decides to reveal the cure for cancer, it will come. It could come bederech hateva, in a university or drug company lab (and if in EY this might be bederech Teva, but their R&D is actually very overrated), or it could come out of nowhere, for instance from someone noticing some effect on cell growth when he spills food or cleaning solution in a test tube.

    One thing is for sure, looking for ways to reduce the niflois haBorei to mere mundane chemical occurrences and to otherwise dray Torah chas vesholom is not going to draw down the siyata deShmaya that is needed for this cure to be revealed, even if Hashem reveals it through an oived avoido zoro in the Far East.

  • #660485

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Joseph,

    So, please summarize this for me.

    Are you saying that when Chazal say “lice don’t come from eggs,” they’re not describing the physical reality but rather some metaphysical reality?

    Or am I misunderstanding your last post?

    The Wolf

  • #660486

    The important thing is that at the end of the day it is mutor to kill lice on Shabbos. If you chap a geshmak to farenfer the reason (which isn’t metaphysical, although Chazals to have secret layers) just like by bishul there is a Chazal’s definition which is very different from ours, kol hakavod.

  • #660487

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Neither Chazal nor anyone else dropped the ball on the cure for cancer. Hashem for whatever reason has not yet revealed the cure for malignant illness.

    That’s fine. In fact, that’s what I believe as well.

    But there are those on these boards who think that Chazal had the cure for cancer (since they knew all of science). My question *for them* is where did this transmission become lost? Or do today’s Rabbanim still have it?

    The Wolf

  • #660488

    Joseph
    Member

    “Do you think that respectful disagreement is impossible?… The same applies to scientific statements of Chazal — I can disagree respectfully. Disagreement in and of itself is not disrespect.”

    Wolf: Correct. It is impossible for you to chas v’shalom disagree with Chazal.

    Your summation of my lice post wasn’t too bad.

  • #660489

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    The important thing is that at the end of the day it is mutor to kill lice on Shabbos.

    And that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that approach. I’m not looking to change the halacha of killing lice on Shabbos.

    The Wolf

  • #660490

    BSD:

    Joseph:

    Once again (and just to protect everyone else), what you have said seems to be (C’V)close to (I’m sure you are not saying kefira, so please restate what you said).

    When the chachomim said a girl under 3 will not lose her Besulim and they grow back, they meant it literally. Same for a bird that only hops (for those who learn Daf). It does not hop more than 50 Physical Amos, not Spiritual Amos(?).

    Please restate/clarify what you have just posted. And I apologize if I am being harsh (or if you agree & I did not understand).

    Thanks.

  • #660491

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Your summation of my lice post wasn’t too bad.

    Thanks.

    So then, at the end of the day, you might agree that on a purely physical level lice come from eggs, no?

    The Wolf

  • #660492

    Joseph
    Member

    gavra: I posted the Rishonim and Achronim. Read them again, and you’ll find your answer.

    Wolf: Yes.

  • #660493

    Wolfish, please be mochel me if you had the impression I was accusing you. If you look earlier in my comments I mentioned a mayseh that had happened with me where a guy disgusted me by paskening (?) it was ossur midioraysa to kill lice on Shabbos. I just felt that the conversation was close to the border between trying to understand the Chazal better(which we should really ask a choshuveh Rav like R’ Chaim Kanievsky) and the apikorsus of being mevazeh talmidei chachomim of Gemoro, of which the least knew how to mechayeh meisim (I read that in a letter of Chazon Ish). But dont get the impression I was pointing a finger on you, and If I gave that impresssion I’m sorry.

  • #660494

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Wonderful!

    Guess what, then — Chazal aren’t interested in science (as it is presently defined)!

    So all the arguing is meaningless.

    Lice can come from eggs on a physical level — but Chazal meant something else when they said that they don’t.

    The universe can have existed for billions of years on a physical level — but Chazal meant something else when they said that it’s only ~6000 years old.

    And so on and so forth.

    In other words, Chazal aren’t really making scientific statements (as we understand them today) — they were making metaphysical/mystical statements.

    That’s fine. I’m perfectly willing to believe that the universe is billions of years old and that Chazal had some other deeper meaning behind their statement.

    The Wolf

  • #660495

    Joseph: Wrong post.

  • #660496

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Poshite,

    No problem. I didn’t think you meant it accusingly. I was just clarifying my position in case you misunderstood.

    The Wolf

  • #660497

    Joseph
    Member

    Wolf:

    You took my point on a specific question you had, and went too far with it. (I’m sure you realize this.)

    The world is physically less than 6,000 years old. I’ve posted on this point earlier.

  • #660498

    And btw Wolf I didn’t mean you should jump the guns and say that the world is chas veshalom 15.3 trillion years old and lice come from eggs… I meant to give it some iyun or ask a rav to really find out. I keep on refering to the example of bishul on Shabbos. Chazal say that in this kli it’s bishul, this one it’s not. Maybe (idk) the fertilization of lice is meshuneh from other briyos, or maybe their eggs are too small or something ( I be’emes dont know) But I think Chazal meant what they meant even physically you just have to find out what they mean. It could take time.

  • #660499

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Hold on a minute…

    Why do you say that Chazal were describing a metaphysical reality WRT lice but science (as we understand it today) WRT the age of the universe?

    IOW, how do you decide when “scientific statements” of Chazal fall into the former category or the latter one?

    The Wolf

  • #660501

    squeak
    Participant

    I really don’t want to get involved, but I do have a point to make.

    If lice are hatched from eggs, then how do we attribute kessamim? The entire concept of teliya is based on abiogenesis.

    No, they were most definitely not talking about lice coming from eggs. A better possiblity is that what we call lice is not what Chazal called lice, and we in fact have no idea what Chazal lice are. I say better, only.

  • #660502

    Joseph
    Member

    The Torah says the world was created in 6 days. And that Rashi says explicitly that when the Torah says Vayehi Erev Vayehi Voker Yom Echad it means 24 hours.

    The Gemora says this expicitly. It describes 10 things that were created on the first day of creation, one of which is the “length of the day and night” – as it says, “vayehi erev vayehi voke yom echad”. So the time span of the day was created on the first day of creation. And, as Rashi states, it means “[the day and night together] – i.e. 24 hours between them”.

  • #660503

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    And the gemara says explicitly that lice don’t come from eggs.

    How is that different?

    The Wolf

  • #660504

    Joseph
    Member

    Wolf: The Gemorah says they come from dirt, a point we’ve discussed at length.

    Any comment on squeak’s post?

  • #660505

    mybat
    Member

    I once went to hear a speaker who was actually proving that the torah and the science don’t contradict each other. Saying that the midrash says that each day of creation lasted for millions of years because our concept of time is different than hashems. I don’t remember his name but I thing he was a professor or something that worked with NASA.

  • #660506

    000646
    Participant

    Joseph,

    Using squeak’s reasoning you might as well say that we have no idea what Chazal meant when they said “days” or that when they said “days” they meant something different then then people do when they use the word “days” (the same way you are assuming that when Chazal said dirt they meant very small eggs, or they are talking about something else completley).

    I know it’s a small matter but please capitalize Chazal. Thank you.

  • #660507

    squeak
    Participant

    000646 – you understood my point exactly.

  • #660508

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    BS”D

    Why is anyone so intent on disproving the scientific statements of Chazal?

    I would understand someone who is actively searching for a cure to disease to want to check out all angles, and this is true pikuach nefesh. Such investigation is of little interest and hard to understand unless you are really trained in science and therefore belongs in the classroom and the laboratory where it will be used for good.

    On the other hand, for someone who is ostensibly shoimer Torah umitzvos to do so in order to prove that this generation has more knowledge than Chazal did, is a sign of lack of emunah at best, and pure gaava at worst. Reishis chochma yiras Hashem.

  • #660509

    Joseph
    Member

    squeak: Going with your pshat, how is it that it is still mutur to kill (what we call) lice on Shabbos?

    646: The 6 days of creation were in fact 24 hours. How could they not be? Aren’t days 24 hours now? So when did this change? Where does it indicate in the slightest that the first Sunday after creation (or the first Shabbos) was suddenly shorter than previous days?

    On the contrary – it’s clear that on the fourth day Hashem said the sun should shine during the time-period that was called “day” and the stars/darkness should rule during the time-period called “night”. Since then, that hasn’t changed, and obvisouly, as we can see today, the sun and the stars have decided that the time period called day plus the time period called night, are 24 hours.

  • #660510

    Quite a most excellent and insightful question, bear.

  • #660511

    000646
    Participant

    Joseph,

    Lice are born from eggs, actual physical eggs not dirt. Dirt means dirt not eggs even small ones and even ones laid by lice.

    According to you why is it ok to say that when Chazal say “dirt” it sometimes actually means “lice eggs”, but not ok to say that when Chazal say “days” they mean periods of time?

  • #660512

    Joseph
    Member

    Regarding days having been something other than the common 24 hours, that contention makes no sense as I outlined above, both from the meforshim and logically.

  • #660513

    cherrybim
    Participant

    Question: Could not Hashem have created a universe that was billions of years old?

    Where do tomato bugs come from? Where are the tomato bug eggs before the tomato seeds are planted and the plant is grown?

    Where do maggots that come out of dead bodies come from? One theory is that flies lay their eggs on the body and produce the maggots. Or, do they produce on their own in a dead body?

  • #660514

    goody613
    Member

    i just heard that you should learn science.

    reminds me of story of the chazon ish who spoke to kids and gave them a hard mathematical problem that no one could answer, and he told them you have to learn math and science to know the gemara.

    on the other side, he told secular kids in the gemara you will find math and science too

  • #660515

    oomis
    Member

    I think science only serves to enhance our emunah. If Chazal said something that we know to be scientifically inaccurate, perhaps our understanding of THEIR understanding is inaccurate, or perhaps it is not an halachic issue, so we should not be so concerned about it. In general, Chazal seem to have had a really impressive understanding of the world, of illness, of human nature, etc. without all the fancy accoutrements of today. So if they misspoke about lice and its source, or if they understood it differently, big deal. They still knew what was treif and what was kosher. And more important, they knew how to treiber out the gid hanasheh, so we could eat the good steak! Bottom line – this is nit-picking (pun intended).

  • #660516

    charliehall
    Member

    “Why is anyone so intent on disproving the scientific statements of Chazal?”

    I’m not. I’m objecting to people who insist on *proving* the scientific statements of Chazal when the halachah has been since the time of the Gaonim that we *don’t* follow their science.

    “Could not Hashem have created a universe that was billions of years old?”

    Of course the answer to this is yes, but that is a Christian idea with no basis in our mesorah. In our mesorah we find opinions that follow the apparent pshat which would be that the universe is thousands of years old (see Seder Olam Rabbah) and other opinions alluded to by others that say that the universe is much older. There is no psak for aggadata.

    “in the gemara you will find math and science too “

    Correct.

    “perhaps it is not an halachic issue, so we should not be so concerned about it”

    Correct.

    “So if they misspoke about lice and its source, or if they understood it differently, big deal. They still knew what was treif and what was kosher. “

    Correct again.

  • #660517

    AbeM
    Participant

    Psh. Let’s keep something in mind about “science” here. “Science” just consists of people–namely, “scientists”–making “observations” about the world, noting “regularities,” making “predictions” and testing them with “experiments,” amassing “evidence,” and using “inductive logic” to make conclusions about “underlying laws.”

    As a side note: I’m wondering if all things on Earth are made of “atoms” and “molecules” or of the four elements (earth, wind, water, fire). Any takers?

  • #660518

    AbeM
    Participant

    “Joseph: squeak: Going with your pshat, how is it that it is still mutur to kill (what we call) lice on Shabbos?”

    The answer to this is pretty straightforward–it’s a pashut Gemara in Masechet Rosh Hashana 25a. Rabban Gamliel poskined when Yom Kippur would start. Rabbi Yehoshua pointed out that RABBAN GAMLIEL WAS MISTAKEN IN HIS ASTRONOMICAL CALCULATIONS. Rabban Gamliel responded by decreeing that Rabbi Yehoshua must come before him with his money bag on the day that Rabbi Yehoshua had claimed should be Yom Kippur; Rabban Gamliel was the leader, and would be the one to set when Yom Kippur is, and Rabbi Yehoshua was supposed to defer to this.

    Rabbi Akiva comforts Rabbi Yehoshua by reading the word “otam” in “tikreu otam b’moadam” as “atem,” interpreting the three uses of this word in the Torah as: “atem”–you set when the holidays are. “Atem afilu shoggegin, atem afilu mezidin, atem afilu muta’in.” “You [set it] even if mistaken, you even if purposefully wrong, you even if you make an error.”

    The message is simple. Chazal’s role is to determine halacha and Hashem’s will for humans. To this extent, their word becomes law in the halachik realm, even if they base it on a scientific error. This is, after all, the clear point of the Gemara; Rabban Gamliel was mistaken scientifically, but his psak was followed anyway, because he is a spiritual leader, not a scientific one. If you think that saying the sages could be mistaken in science takes away from their infallibility in halacha, you have simply misunderstood their role in both.

  • #660519

    onlyemes
    Member

    I do not buy into the opinion that one can learn science from Torah. If Chazal said something of a scientific nature, it was due to the then prevalent scientific “knowledge”. If you want to then call it Torah, fine, but it is just prevalent knowledge and was known to goyim also. If a Rav or posek reads a secular scientific book ,paraphrases it, and I then read the Rav’s writings, I have not “learned science from Torah”.

    Please be intellectually honest. No Rov will make the claim that he can study only traditional Torah and seriously know current engineering, medicine, physics or math. I challenge any Rov or godol with no secular education, to take the National Boards Examination in a medical discipline or GREs in any science. So claiming that all of science is in traditional Torah when no one in history has achieved anything approaching this is dishonest.

    And curiously, unless I missed it, I have not seen an angry letter from the International Society of Mermaids attacking me for denying their existence, past or present.

  • #660520

    ZachKessin
    Member

    Where do maggots that come out of dead bodies come from? One theory is that flies lay their eggs on the body and produce the maggots. Or, do they produce on their own in a dead body?

    This was actually a point of great debate about 150 years ago or so. There are however some simple experiments you can do to resolve the issue. You take a sample of something that bacteria can grow in, say chicken stock, then you seal it off so that no bacteria can get in, you then heat it up to kill any that may be in there. If bacteria can appear from nothing then they will quickly infect the sample. However they can not, a fact you can be thankful next time you open up a can of some food. This was discovered by Prof Louis Pasture and we now of course call it “Pasteurization” in his honor.

    My father is a biologist as is actually working on a book about the history of this.

  • #660521

    ZachKessin
    Member

    Were there ever empirical facts that were later disproven? Or is that a contradiction?

    A fact is not something you prove or disprove, it is a statement of something you have seen or observed. For example that the orbit of mars is an ellipse not circle is a fact, based on observations by Tycho and others after him. Now the accuracy to which we know the details of that has of course gotten better.

    There have been some things that were taken as facts over the years that came from measurements that we conducted incorrectly, or in some cases out right fraud. (It happens)

    But in general things taken as a fact in science have been tested and retested in many different ways over the years. For example relativity has been tested in thousands of experiments over the last 100 or so years and has been found to be correct in every case.

  • #660522

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    I challenge any Rov or godol with no secular education, to take the National Boards Examination in a medical discipline


    BS”D

    Rav Firer from Ezra uMarpeh could probably pass (language barrier aside) with a higher score than many US medical graduates and with a far higher score than the South Asian graduates who work in US emergency rooms (or much of the flotsam and jetsam with unpronounceable names and unverifiable credentials who wear name tags with “Dr” and hang around Maimonides beis refuah in BP). Something tells me he is not the only one.

  • #660523

    The name of this is “Is learning science spiritually dangerous?” We got a little off topic about some arguement if Chazal knew science or not (chas veshalom). But this slightly off topic conversation proved one thing: Learning science is spiritually dangerous – if that’s the type of things people can say about Chazal after learning it. The Chazon Ish advised top brain surgeons, and knew psychology very well. He never left the beis medresh or chas veshalom read those books. Once a man askded the Chazon ISh if he can learn psychology, and the Chazon Ish asked him “Why can’t you learn it from Chumash-Rashi?” Every few years scientists change their theories, and in a hundred years they’ll be laughing at using carbon14 to prove ages of fossils and things. But then, they’ll have weirder theories then. The point is, we should stick to Chazal because they’re always right. “Kol Haoseik batorah lishmah zocheh lidvarim harbeih”, “Hafoch boh vahapoch boh ki kuloh boh”

  • #660524

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    There have been some things that were taken as facts over the years that came from measurements that we conducted incorrectly, or in some cases out right fraud. (It happens)

    BS”D

    I happen to know for a fact that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is descended from Piltdown Man, as is his buddy Haroun Cohen (a distant cousin via the Piltdown connection). So much for outright fraud.

  • #660527

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    BS”D

    Again, Ames, what are you setting out to learn? The positions of the stars? Their brightness and even their composition? Or their supposed origins?

    Only the last can be spiritually damaging, and even that is not a given if all you want to find out is how we understand the way Hashem created them. The Torah is not meant to give us the technical details of creation, only to make it clear Who created the world and for what purpose. Parshas Bereishis is hard enough to listen to on Simchas Torah; would you like to hear a series of chemical reactions as well? (The only chemical reaction that matters on Simchas Torah is the reaction of ethanol with various human cell structures….)

    The problem is only found in cases of brainwashing by those who use their findings to deny Hashem and the authenticity of the Torah.

  • #660528

    Yes, Chazal have wrote about the wonders of the universe. All over Shas and Medroshim. And btw why do you need anybody to write a book a bout it? Go on a hike in the woods, look at the stars, you’ll be astounded about the briah. Besides, science books nowadays are laden with kfirah which is ossur to read. When I used to be in yeshiva they forced me to go to science class and they were talking about a certain type of worm that I forget what exactly was but the point is the science book said, “It is so wondrous of a creature that it’s as if it was programmed by a programmer. But we know that it really just evolved blahh blah ” The science book couldn’t admit it! I don’t get it what’s your rush to learn science? I was forced to learn it, and it was pretty boring! I was always nispoel from the briah not science books – they made it boring and disgusting!

  • #660529

    xx
    Member

    I have a question about this whole argument.

    Where did all the extra years go? I am going to assume that everyone here believes in Sheshes Ymei Breishis, and it says very clearly that Adam was created on the sixth day of the universe.

    Make a mathematical calculation of the years in the Torah (which are quite clearly spelled out) and where did the billions of years go? Let’s just say 3000 years until Yetzias Mitzrayim (it is less, but just for our purposes let us push it up to keep the numbers easy and to avoid any problems) that number (the accurate one) can be found by simply adding the numbers in Sefer B’reishis.

    then add another say 1000 years (really less) until the Churban. Again, that number can be obtained by taking the number of years after Yetzias Mitzrayim that the Bais Hamikdash was built (in Milachim) and adding the number of years that all the kings ruled. add another 70 years for Galus Bavel/Parus Umadai, I think we are up to slightly over 4000.

    add another 500 years (less) for the second Bais Hamikdash (I don’t know any primary source for that, anyone who does, please let me know, but I think everyone will agree that it wasn’t longer than that, or at least not much)

    at that point the current system of years comes into play, so even if we say that the 2009 figure is incorrect, I don’t think that it is inaccurate by more than a few years, so even 100.

    the number I have here is 6670. That is wrong because I gave so much extra time everywhere. But even if it were accurate, in the scheme of things, what is the difference between 5770 and 6670 if we are talking about that vs. billions of years?

    Why can’t it be 5770?

  • #660530

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    “BS”D

    Again, Ames, what are you setting out to learn? The positions of the stars? Their brightness and even their composition? Or their supposed origins?

    Only the last can be spiritually damaging, and even that is not a given if all you want to find out is how we understand the way Hashem created them. The Torah is not meant to give us the technical details of creation, only to make it clear Who created the world and for what purpose. Parshas Bereishis is hard enough to listen to on Simchas Torah; would you like to hear a series of chemical reactions as well? (The only chemical reaction that matters on Simchas Torah is the reaction of ethanol with various human cell structures….)

    The problem is only found in cases of brainwashing by those who use their findings to deny Hashem and the authenticity of the Torah.”

    Well said.

  • #660531

    000646
    Participant

    “On the contrary – it’s clear that on the fourth day Hashem said the sun should shine during the time-period that was called “day” and the stars/darkness should rule during the time-period called “night”. Since then, that hasn’t changed, and obvisouly, as we can see today, the sun and the stars have decided that the time period called day plus the time period called night, are 24 hours.”

    How does the fact that Hashem said the sun should shine in the day and the stars at night prove that hashem created the sun and stars in literally 24 hours?

  • #660532

    By the way Justaguy “The Torah is not meant to give us the technical details of creation” The Torah is the blueprint of the world (Medresh Rabbah) and I saw the Groh (I forget where) said that the history of every single blade of grass is found in the Torah.

  • #660533

    000646
    Participant

    I meant mitsva 545 in my last post

  • #660534

    When did I say girls should learn Shas and Medroshim? I said it’s all contained there. MAybe some nice RAv oneday will publish “Likuttei Maamorei Chazal al Habriah”. And I still hold nature walks and star gazing are 10000000000 times better than science books! They’re so boring overloaded in kfira! I used to think nature and animals and stars and chemicals etc. were fun until I saw science! The whole think is miyusdik

  • #660535

    “Poshite Yid, but the info isn’t accesible!” So it isn’t but it’s there, and that’s my point, and if somebody really learns he’ll get there! Or maybe we’ll get that nice Rav to write up a sequel “Yalkut Historiya shel Blades of Grass min HAtorah”

  • #660536

    FIne. Which blade of grass do you want to know about? I’ll check it up, and get back to you. Anyways, my point was that “learning science instills me with love and fear of HAshem” depends: From science books: No, quite the opposite, at least from my experiences. From nature and a person that looks around and enjoys the world without the brainracking silly depressing theories and hypothesises (and those horrendous vocabulary terms they’re latin or something), then this is where you get yiras shomayim from. I think many seforim say the beauty of pondering nature to lead to emunoh and stuff.

  • #660537

    Of course, the microscope just make you more and more nispoel! I’m talking about LEARNING science books(Boring).

  • #660538

    000646
    Participant

    Joseph,

    The Chinuch (mitzva 545) clearly states that no species of animal ever goes extinct. Do you believe this to be the case?

  • #660539

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    Poshite Yid 613- I think whether one finds science books and the “depressing theories and hypothesies” boring is just a matter of personal taste. Some people hear music and want to learn to play an instrument. Others are just content to listen to the music. No big deal.

  • #660540

    000646
    Participant

    “Where did all the extra years go? I am going to assume that everyone here believes in Sheshes Ymei Breishis, and it says very clearly that Adam was created on the sixth day of the universe”

    If you say the sheishes yemei brieshes werent literall 24 hour days then this isnt a problem

  • #660541

    To the defense of myself: Science books happen to be boring, and that’s just a matonoh min hashomayim, but my point is: They are spiritually dangerous, laden with kefira, freethinking, and the a to z s of Webster’s Atheistic and Agnotistic Dictionairy ( if it existed).

  • #660542

    anon for this
    Participant

    Poshite Yid 613, it seems from your posts that you feel the study of science from textbooks or formal coursework is unnecessary because it’s “disgusting”, “brainwracking”, and “boring”, and therefore far inferior to learning about science through their own observations of nature. However, these science books (minus the assumptions about the origins of the life, the universe, and everything) are simply the observations of many scientists. In fact, many people find the study of science to be personally fascinating and challenging, and more intellectually satisfying than learning solely through their own observations. This study of the world around us, whether through formal study of science or through our personal observations, can lead to increased appreciation of the niflaos haBorei.

  • #660543

    haifagirl
    Member

    I really don’t know anything about astronomy. Nor do I really care to. However, if you want to talk chemistry, that’s something that’s astounding. The more I learned about how the different atoms and molecules interacted with each other the more amazed I was that people could learn this and NOT believe in Hashem. And the information I learned came from science books and (non-Jewish) professors.

  • #660544

    squeak
    Participant

    anon – I’m in agreement with you. The science books are a tool to enhance your own powers of observation. They not only prevent you from needing to reinvent the wheel, but they also introduce you to things you could never have observed on your own with no instruction. I’d like to know how you would be able to predict where to point your telescope in the sky without understanding the science that is in the books. Without it, you would just be gazing more or less randomly.

    If chemistry is your thing, like haifagirl, you’d have a lot of trouble studying the subject by observation alone and without instruction (whether formal or textbook).

  • #660545

    anon ( I’ll forget about you minusing things off) still the whole yesod of scientific thought even if it some innocent “simply the observations of some scientists” is EVIDENCE. That’s the whole scientific method, if you learned about it. You make a hypothesis, you need to find evidence. They challenge our mesorah of Har Sinai and just about everything because you must have EVIDENCE. Our answer is obvious: How many times has somebody bug u to prove something and u say, “I’ve seen it with my own eyes, I don’t need to prove it to u. We were at Har Sinai, atoh horayso lodaas ki hashem hu elokim ain od milvado – Hashem opened up the shomayim and showed us He was there, and non other (Rashi)! So the whole scientific method of analysis and everything that distorts everything is enough of a reason why not to learn it. If you happen to get an eidel science book (there aren’t much but I”ve seen a few that are semi eidel) then ok. But I still feel being mispoel from the briah is much better. I wouldn’t trust any of those kfira sponsered science books anyways.

    I heard a moshel from a choshuve Rosh yeshiva that imagine you have a guy at NIagra Falls, and then he has a postcard. He’s standing right in front of Niagra Falls, but staring at the photograph saying how beautiful this is . That guy’s a fool he’s at Niagra FAlls!

    Anyways, even if science books don’t negatively impact you because you’re so sure of yourself that you have an iron wall surrounding your neshoma (unfortuanantely I wasn’t blessed with anti-Hashpoah TM just boredom towards science books) there are so many people that got harmed! Just look at some of the people earlier in this article who were mevazeh Chazal about their knowledge of science! Didn’t the gedolim put somebody’s books on cherem for that?

  • #660546

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    BS”D

    So what you’re saying is that we shouldn’t turn to Torah for science?


    The principles of science are contained in Torah. There are technical details, of use to few of us, which we need to use human tools to measure.

    The principles that allow a scientist to figure out that star X produces Y heat were laid down at creation. Hashem did not give us the technical details in the Torah because He knows very well we would not sit and listen to chemical equations in shul. Instead He gave us the wisdom to find those details and then to choose between being partners in creation or chas vesholom using the yetzer horo to either walk away from emunah, or, worse, to destroy.

    The same nuclear fission that produces electricity in the US is what Mad Mahmoud wants to get his hands on in order to blow up half the world. Hashem created it and it is up to us to find out how to use it the right way.

  • #660547

    starwolf
    Member

    A600Kilo-Bear posted that” “Rav Firer from Ezra uMarpeh could probably pass (language barrier aside) with a higher score than many US medical graduates and with a far higher score than the South Asian graduates who work in US emergency rooms (or much of the flotsam and jetsam with unpronounceable names and unverifiable credentials who wear name tags with “Dr” and hang around Maimonides beis refuah in BP). Something tells me he is not the only one. “

    Rav Firer consults with a number of scientific and medical authorities to gain his knowledge. In addition, he arranges for many lecture series by scientific and medical authorities. I would say that he has pursued a pretty strenuous, if unconventional, scientific education.

  • #660548

    starwolf, what about the Chazon ISh? I heard ashiur from a choshuveh rosh kollel that was praising the Chazon ISh’s knowledge of medicine he even adviced top brain surgeons despite ever picking up a medicine book. The rosh kollel said he knew it from “kol haoseik batorah lishmah zocheh lidvarim harbeih”

  • #660549

    starwolf
    Member

    How sad that someone can glory in their ignorance, and be happy that he has no knowledege of physics, biology, or chemistry–since his faith is so small that it might make him “mevazeh Chazal”.

    Of course, if one thinks that thinking that Chazal did not know everything (literally)is “mevazeh”–this is another matter. Lack of access to modern technological means (microscopes, telescopes, brain scans, radiolabelling etc does not lessen the learning or midot of Chazal, or change their place as the the religious leaders of Am Yisrael.

  • #660550

    starwolf I was forced to learn science for many years in school. And same here, how sad can someone be basking in their ignorance of human brain worship, and not admitting that Chazal knew better than him, even in science. It is a major bizayon to be mefakfeik about their knowledge of science, and I now see why science is spiritually dangerous, by the comments you and otthers have said.

  • #660551

    ames, it doesn’t. But one still has a chiyuv to fight for Kavod Hatorah. Why are comments that mevazeh Chazal allowed to go through?

  • #660552

    anon for this
    Participant

    Poshite Yid, your reply to me seems inconsistent. First you argue that science is “kfirah” because it’s based on observations. Then you quote Rashi regarding the presence of every yid at matan torah. Rashi is actually pointing out that we know matan torah happened because we were there–our own personal observations aka the scientific method.

    Like haifagirl, I find that knowledge inspires my emuna much more than ignorance (though I am more interested in physics than chemistry). Obviously your mileage may vary.

  • #660553

    starwolf
    Member

    Since this thread was originally about astronomy, allow me to make a suggestion for those who with to do some scientific observation of the Heavens, along with a Jewish source to accompany them:

    Find a clear spot to observe the night sky. Take along a star map to help you locate big dipper, Orion, and the Pleiades. Take along a Tanach and open it to Sefer Iyyov, Perek 38.

    Let me know then if science leads to emunah, or kefirah.

  • #660554

    ames:

    The argument by some was that science is best learned via Chazal, while others said that Chazal did not know everything we know today about the sciences.

    Then it went downhill from there.

  • #660555

    haifagirl
    Member

    ames:

    The simple answer is ask your LOR. He knows you better than most of us. There are people who can learn science and it will strengthen their emunah. There are others, and we’ve unfortunately seen them on this thread, for whom it will have the opposite affect.

    Your LOR will probably know which category you will most likely be in.

  • #660556

    starwolf
    Member

    Poshite Yid,

    I could not comment on the Chazon Ish. I do not know which surgeons he advised, nor which advice he gave–I have not heard anything about that. If you have any more detailed information, I would appreciate it if you would post it.

    My comment about Rav Firer is based on personal knowledge, not on anything that I have heard.

  • #660557

    At the end of the day is learning science spiritually dangerous? It depends how, but the classical way of this age dihaynu learning the present day books is for sure dangerous (and if you’re one of those amazing people who have anti-Hashpoah, kol hakavod).

  • #660558

    starwolf
    Member

    Poshite Yid 613–again, you are misinterpreting. I am not saying that today’s scientists “know better” than Chazal. I am saying that today’s scientists have access to information that Chazal did not. Those are two very different things, and my statement implies no disrespect.

  • #660559

    starwolf that is disrespect to say that science knows more even if its because they have “more access”, and ames, i learned math very well (in fact skipped many grades up for math) but, I quit after Algebra 2. And no, it did not enhance my avodas Hashem. And btw “CHazal didn’t teach us science or math” Did they teach you Torah either? You’re gonna answer yeah just pick up a sefer. Guess what, maybe they taught us science and math too, just pick up a sefer. And to everybody (except for those who have antiHashpoah) even if you’re not gebentched with boredom to science books, is it still worth the bad Hashpoah even if you’re nispoel from it?

  • #660561

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    I’m not saying anyone should do either of these things, but just asking- isn’t wondering whether Chazal could have invented an airplane or performed open-heart surgery, or built a rocket ship different than wondering whether indeed the world is Hashem’s creation and the Torah his word?

  • #660562

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    BS”D

    My point in bringing up Rav Firer is that his Torah education and perspective is what enables him to understand whatever sources he uses to look up the information he needs to save Yiddishe neshomos. I know full well how he obtains this information. Anyone can obtain it nowadays online. I have a friend who is a professor in Ein Karem, and when I need advice he sends me right to the NIH website. I understand about 60% of it which is more than I need to know whether or not something I am eating is causing me some nuisance health problem. And that 60% is probably enough to pass med boards if I spent time learning it for every condition that a particular specialist needs to know.

    On the other hand, Rav Firer is not a scientist who learns science so he can get a grant and perhaps find out how simian behavior mirrors human behavior, and then use that worthless information to prove that we are just animals chas vesholom.

  • #660563

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    BS”D

    If Hashem had decreed that the airplane was to be revealed in the time of Chazal then they would have invented it. The principles were always there.

  • #660564

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Ames, I’ve skimmed through most of the posts (I’m 7 days post partum, so I don’t have that much time) and I just wanted to offer you my words of “wisdom.”

    First, learning anything, including Torah can be spiritually dangerous. Just think of the four people who learned pardes…

    You seem to have a strong emotional and religious support system. If learning about astronomy strengthens your emunah, I recommend continuing. If there is anything that begins to bother you, talk to the people you trust – your husband, your rabbonim, your family. Its ok to ask questions and understand even if you think it sounds like you are turning to kefira. Its important to understand where you are going wrong, why you are going wrong or how you are misunderstanding things.

    There are people who don’t find science and nature spiritually fulfilling and its hard for them to understand why you want to learn it. Its like trying to explain to me why music is beautiful – I just don’t appreciate it.

    Good luck and shana tovah!

  • #660565

    “Just think of the four people who learned pardes…”

    They entered the Pardes. Probably ames wouldn’t.

  • #660566

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Ames, glad to help 🙂

    Mod80, my point is anything can be spiritually dangerous. Science just gets a bad rep as “the bad thing”…

    I know, your point was clear. I just wanted to clarify a detail…80

  • #660567

    Btw Reb Elchonon Wasseerman in Kovetz Shiurim Chelek 2 klers a shayla if it’s mutor to learn limudei chol lishmoh, for the geshmak of the limud., I think he came out it was ossur, unless if it was for parnossoh

  • #660568

    A600KiloBear:

    Achitofel learned 400 Halachos of a “Migdol Haporach B’avir”, what we would think of today as an airplane or helicopter.

  • #660569

    squeak
    Participant

    with the owner of the thread satisfied, and the general momentum of the thread gone awry, I’d say there’s no good reason to leave the thread open any longer.

    There is a NEW momentum, people are still interested, the tone has not deteriorated.

    SJS, I like what you wrote very much. I could not have expressed it as eloquently. Are we going to have a vacht nacht here in the CR?

  • #660570

    starwolf
    Member

    A 600KiloBear posted:

    “BS”D

    My point in bringing up Rav Firer is that his Torah education and perspective is what enables him to understand whatever sources he uses to look up the information he needs to save Yiddishe neshomos. I know full well how he obtains this information. Anyone can obtain it nowadays online. I have a friend who is a professor in Ein Karem, and when I need advice he sends me right to the NIH website. I understand about 60% of it which is more than I need to know whether or not something I am eating is causing me some nuisance health problem. And that 60% is probably enough to pass med boards if I spent time learning it for every condition that a particular specialist needs to know.

    On the other hand, Rav Firer is not a scientist who learns science so he can get a grant and perhaps find out how simian behavior mirrors human behavior, and then use that worthless information to prove that we are just animals chas vesholom. “

    No, actually looking at the NIH website is not enough to help one pass the boards. (By the way, how do you think that the information gets to the NIH website? By the virtue of scientists, who are more than happy to share their information. In any event, it is the more specialized knowledge that one needs, and that is why Rav Firer (and others) actually take the time to talk to the scientists who do actually study these things full-time. He also understands that scientists do not “learn science so that we can get a grant”. You can learn all the science that you wish–that will not get you a grant–and it does not matter if you are affiliated with Brisk or Bar-Ilan. You get grants so that you can perform studies to obtain specific answers to specific questions. That usually means experimental studies. The reason for the grants is that the experiments cost money to perform. So we get grants to do science–not do science to get grants.

    A number of those experiments have lead to amazing health advances. Your idea of scientists trying to prove that “men are just animals” is ridiculous. Do you really think that the average scientist spends 60+ hours/week in the laboratory for that? Why don’t you look at cancer survival rates from 20 years ago and today? The same goes for a number of(non-cancer)childrens’ diseases. This is the result of scientific investigation, of which you are so contemptuous. Perhaps this has not affected you personally–but every time anyone goes into a hospital and sees a child who has benefitted from one of the treatments that keep them alive, one should keep in mind that that treatment started in the laboratory of a scientist. A scientist who, in all probability, did not make any money by making it freely available. That is why we spend 60+ hours/week in the laboratory–for knowledge, not grant money.

    Numerous examples upon request.

  • #660572

    Anonymous

    CLOSED

    That never gets old 🙂

  • #660573
  • #660575

    Anonymous

    80, I trust your opinion. If you think it should stay open, so be it.

    On one condition. You let me close the thread when the time comes.

  • #660576

    mepal
    Member

    Publice private convos…

    Oh, sorry mepal, I forgot you like to get in on all the mod convos 😉 26

  • #660577

    DEAL!

  • #660579

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    BS”D

    Read about all the spurious grants that are given to mediocre scientists out there. Then come back to me and tell me what is ridiculous. Many of these grants have to do with certain types of behavioral science that I cannot describe on this board even by using loshon sagi nahor.

    And yes, you can read enough to pass a medical board and even to practice medicine on yourself. Do you think I trust the doctors where I am? Besides, most of the NIH contributors are on the public or university dime and are compelled to share their findings because it is their job to do so and not because they are in any way altruistic.

    Finally, the advances in medicine came mostly from drug company labs, from the profit motive, and even if an advanced treatment came from a university, it is only the drug company that could get it to the patient. Universities and public labs are full of drones who are there only for the job security and yes, some of them get grants for utterly ridiculous scientific experiments that prove nothing of any value.

  • #660580

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Haven’t had a chance to read through this all. I am now writing from my lab, and some of these posts are rather disturbing to say the least.

    A few prefaces:

    A) There is clearly nothing wroing with studying science, and today it may be the greatest method of understanding niflaos haborei that we have.

    B) Studying science is possibly the greatest chesed there is, as one who suffers from a disease wants nothing other than some relief.

    C) I don’t believe that evolution has been proven for reasons I may discuss in another post, as it is long. However, we must learn to take what scientists have proven and separate from what is speculation. The differences are often subtle. But we must learn the art of critical thinking. In gemara terms, is something muchrach or not. Every single line one reads or writes in science must constantly be filtered this way.

    Now for the direct issues:

    1) Joseph, you brought Chazal’s knowledge of the rakia as a proof to their expertise. Kindly define what the rakia is and what it was that chazal added to our understanding of this astronomical entity that we did not know before.

    2) Somebody wrote that one shouyld not study science from science books, but rather from the briyah. That is rather silly, and in your whole lifetime you will probably only gain the most simple and superficial understanding if you try to reinvent the whole wheel on your own. As Newton said, if we have seen further, it is because we have stood on the shoulders of giants. We can’t get anywhere new in science without understanding all that has preceded us to the best of our ability.

    3) Tha gemara Pesachim clearly states that Chazal felt that non-Jews knew better than we did about astronomy. So all these arguments saying that they knew more than the scientists contradict an explicit gemara. Chazal were men of humility and emes, and did not hesitate to credit others. The same with Kibud Av which is learned from a Non-Jew in Kiddushin. Chazal searched for emes no matter what the source, as they had such integrity and intellectual honesty.

    4) The Rambam Kiddush Hachodesh (17,24) similarly says that anything proven scientifically or mathematically has the status of divrei neviim.

    5) The Rambam also says that the reason Chizkiya buried the Sefer HaRefuos was because it didn’t work.

    6) As much as the astounding amount that scientists know now, it is just a drop in the ocean of what there is to know. This does not mean scientists are stupid or arrogant. It means there is plenty more work ahead of them.

    7) As was discussed in another thread on this topic, I proved that chazal could not have known modern science, since if they did, they would have had a mitzvah de’oraisa of lo saamod al dam rayecha to launch an airplane at the advancing Roman horsemen at the time of the churban. One cannonball probably would have made all the horses and fighters retreat in panic. Since chazal did not do so, it means they were unable to. Similarly, if today’s gedolim had knowledge of how to cure cancer, they would be mechuyav to share that knowledge. Since they don’t, it means they do not know how.

    8) Reb Moshe and Reb Shlom Zalman freely acknowledge that when they need to know how something works in order to pasken, they ask the scientists or engineers. They admit they they would not know on their own.

    9) If you believe gedolim know more science than the scientists, kindly find me one who is willing to sit for a graduate level science exam on things we clearly know. Such as how to design a GPS system, or organic chemistry. (Noncontroversial and straightforward things.)

    10) If our gedolim do not know, then as was raised before, exactly what generation did this stop. When Joseph quotes the Rama about science, did he know these things? If he did, when in the last 300 years did gedolim suddenly lose this ability?

  • #660581

    starwolf
    Member

    A600KiloBear,

    you are absolutely incorrect. Most major medical advances did not come from drug companies, they came from University and Hospital research laboratories. A detailed sudy of this has been done by the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, and the data are very clear about this. (Reference upon request)

    I would say that I know a good many scientists; they are my colleagues and I would not classify any of them as “drones”, any more than I would classify my friends who study full-time in Yeshiva as “drones”. And, by the way, even with tenure, there is no job security in university research; if you actually knew anything about the subject, you would certainly know that. Perhaps this is not true “where you are” but it certainly holds for the US, most Western European countries, and Israel. And the system works best in those places.

    How many original medical articles do you read every week? How would you know where the advances in medicine come from? If you were familiar with the literature, you would know that the things that you post are simply untrue.

  • #660582

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Regarding the Chazon Ish neurosurgery story, as has been discussed here previously, there is no source other than books quoting other books with no name of a doctor or hospital or patient so that it can be verified.

    In additon, if it was true about the Chazon Ish, then gedolim of today should be able to do the same thing. But yet, the Steipler and Reb Moshe and today’s gedolim all go to hospitals and submit to the doctors treatments. They do not stay home and treat themselves with their advanced knowledge of medicine. None have claimed any knowledge of curing cancer.

    Finally, there is a tshuva in Reb Elyashiv’s sefer regaring whether one can lie and make up stories of gedolim to inspire talmidim. That pretty much says it all.

    (Reb Elyashiv strongly discouraged it, in response.)

  • #660583

    sammygol
    Member

    Pointing out instances where either Chazal themselves, or Raboseinu Rishonim vaAcharonim were wrong in scientific knowledge is not necessarily denying their greatness, unless one specifically wishes to do so. In that case, it is being mevaze Talmidei chachomim and one is deemed an apikores.

    If the goal is NOT trying to prove them wrong for its own sake, or to aggrandize one’s own superiority, one may actually be doing something correct. You do not need an obscure Midrash to see that some information is at odds with reality, or that Chazal themselves have admitted that their knowledge was faulty. This, latter fact is of incredible value in this argument, because, had their scientific knowledge been obtained strictly from the Torah, they would have never changed their minds to agree with the Greek or the Roman scientists of the day. When Rabbi and Antoninus were discussing the motion of the sun (in Sanhedrin), Rebbi admitted the Roman to be in the right. Had Rebbi’s knowledge stemmed strictly from the mesorah, he would have had no right to admit that his reasoning was incorrect. There are great many examples of our sages’ acceptance of the words and arguments of the gentile scientists. Even stronger is the argument that many a time when they admitted the scientist to be correct, that very information that they did agree to was later disproven as well. Had their secondary stance been derived from the Torah alone, how could have it been so patently proven wrong later?

    Yes, Chazal tell us that ALL the wordly knowledge is contained in the Torah, and we must and do accept that as a fact. However, that does NOT mean that Chazal themselves understood every scientific fact and nuance thereof from the Primary Source. They knew that it is alluded to therein, and that one COULD obtain that information from the Torah, yet, they never claimed that THEY actually had all of it revealed to them. Their humility and love of truth wouldn’t allow for such statements. It does no service to the honor of Chazal to state that they were correct even in their obvious mistakes, let alone that these mistakes are actually Torah based truths.

    When it comes to latter day sages, their scientific knowledge was even more derived from the gentile world, with all its wrongful facts and assumptions. Many Rishonim maintained that the Earth is flat, as Rashi interprets the Gemara of mayim shelonu, and Rashi himself, in Asara Yuchasin states that Tigris and Euphrates flow from south to north, deriving that from a posuk regarding “nahar yotze me’Eiden”. (There exist very long debates on the topic of these four rivers. How can anyone say that the Rishonim KNEW what they are from the Torah-based geography, when they debate whether one is the Nile or Ganges, with each side bringing proofs from the pesukim AND geography?)

    There were rishonim that believed in warewolves, mermaids, sirens, and other non-existant creatures. Rambam quotes almost verbatim from Galen, whose knowledge of human anatomy was in fact derived from dissecting apes, and who was proven to be absolutely wrong, after 1400 years of blind acceptance. Let’s not forget the famous debate between the Rambam and the Ramban as to whether the Moon is a heavenly body or a mere apparition. Whether one wishes to rely on Mr. Armstrong’s footprint or not, one is wrong and the other is right, since their statements are mutually exclusive. This has nothing to do with the age of the Universe, or the Big Bang, and it is not as easy to dismiss as spontaneous generation of lice, which one can tweak into meaning “Chazal’s interpretation of having a spiritual existance”. Even regarding Sheidim and witchcraft, the Rambam disagrees with Chazal, stating that these do not exist, even if explicitly mentioned in the Mishna and the Beraisa.

    Our reliance on Chazal as the final arbiters of Halacha, which WAS transmitted from Sinai, doesn’t depend on their knowledge of science, geography, or astronomy. The halachos of Kiddush HaChodesh are independant of existance of the Crab Nebula, or of the fact that the Zodiac is in reality NOT a set of 12 constellations, but only appears alligned as such. Ascribing to our sages infallibility in natural sciences in the face of obvious errors only detracts from following their halachic rulings, since one may begin to feel that if they were wrong in factual matters, they could have easily been wrong in halachic ones, too. Just as our respect for the Rambam isn’t due to his being a great physician in his time, but on his knowledge of the Torah, and there is no inconsistancy in accepting his psak while acknowledging his mistakes in medicine and astronomy.

    Studying science reveals to us the magnitude of Creation and the greatness of the Creator. Only those who are afraid to shake their own self-serving values would continue to postulate that whatever wrongful information was sated by Chazal must be accurate, despite obvious facts. Yet, is it really self-serving? The only gain is that one ascribes to the greatest chachomim his own mediocrity and feels a need to emphatically state that those who seached for the truth didn’t.

  • #660584

    amok
    Participant

    EDITED

    Davar acher, though tangential, for those interested in early ideas of flight, the Rambam in Shmona Prakim discusses the unreliability of the imagination, saying it can conceive the impossible(sheker), such as a “steel ship flying in the air”. I was giving a Machshava shiur in this in a community near JFK in the Shabbos afternoon rush hour. I dont think any of those participants left with an idea of scientific infallibility of the Chachamim.

  • #660585

    Joseph
    Member

    Rema — Toras HaOlah (1:2) — We assume rabbinic science to be infallible, and ancient rabbinic knowledge of astronomy complete.

    Aruch Hashulchan — EH 13 — “I will tell you a great principle: Chazal, besides their holiness and wisdom in the Torah, were also greater scholars in the natural sciences those savants (“mischakmim”) who would argue against their pure words. And someone who disagrees with them testifies about himself that he does not believe in Torah she bal peh, even though he would be embarrassed to admit it outright.”

    Chasam Sofer — Drashos Chasam Sofer Vol. 1 p.100b — Our phophets and sages know all the sciences much better than the scientists.

    Ran — Drashos #13 — points out that the statement of R. Yochana (Sanhedrin 100a) had no halachic relevance at all – it was merely an Agadic interpretation, and the disagreement was regarding a scientific fact, yet the student was punished for not believing in its truth.

    Rav Yiztchok Izak Chaver — Magen Vtzenah (p. 49) — there are people who reject Chazal’s statements because the secular scientists disagree, and they laugh saying that we know its not true. They are fools.

    Chida — Shem Hagedolim: “Seforim”:5:82 — There are those among us who disagree with Chazal because of their scientific knowledge, but they do not understand that Chazal had Eliyhau Hanavi informing them, and they had Ruach HaKodesh to inform them.

  • #660586

    Joseph
    Member

    “How does the fact that Hashem said the sun should shine in the day and the stars at night prove that Hashem created the sun and stars in literally 24 hours?”

    646 –

    The Gemora says this expicitly. It describes 10 things that were created on the first day of creation, one of which is the “length of the day and night” – as it says, “vayehi erev vayehi voke yom echad”. So the time span of the day was created on the first day of creation. And, as Rashi states, it means “[the day and night together] – i.e. 24 hours between them”.

  • #660587

    A600KiloBear
    Participant

    BS”D

    Starwolf, it so happens that I read all or part of that politically biased report about where advances in medicine supposedly come from. The author has an agenda, to put it mildly, and that agenda is similar to Obamacare.

    The rest of your post is biased as well.

    Sadly, yes, there are drones sitting in koilel and that is why the system needs to be revamped.

    And in the US, EY and Europe, not here where research is dead anyway, there are many drones doing worthless research in the public sector.

    The koilel benchwarmers are a drop in the bucket even if they are getting welfare and section 8. The fat in the public science sector costs hardworking taxpayers billions.

  • #660588

    Joseph
    Member

    The Yerushalmi says that a Chodesh is established by witnesses, and some girl has her third birthday on that Rosh Chodesh, she gets her besulim and can lose them with a man, but if later those witnesses were proven Zomemim, and we realize she was never three to begin with, nature follows the Torah and her Besulim grow back. This process is obviously not scientific but miraculous, and with no Kidush HaCHodesh until Moshiach comes, its going to be difficult for the scientists to observe the process.

    Regarding the Rambam, Reb Yaakov Kaminetzky said that the Rambam’s Hilchos Deos were not intended to be Torah, but rather the Rambam’s secular wisdom. He said, by way of proof, that the Rambam there says the moon is a sentient entity, and now we “see” on TV that it is only a rock.

    Rav Schneur Kotler ZTL said that this statement of Reb Yaakov “may not be said”, and that he remembers that Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk ZT’L once said that there are people who hold like this regarding the Rambam, and they are totally wrong, and he (Rav Meir Simchah) would really write a sefer showing that every word of the Rambams Hilchos Deos is culled from Chazal, but the Malbim already wrote such a Sefer so he doesnt need to. Rav Schneur continued, that nobody knew what Rav Meir Simcha was referring to by the Sefer of the Malbim until a few years ago (like 30 years ago from today) they reprinted a Kuntres from the Malbim showing that the Rambam’s Hilchos Deos was all from Chazal.

    Rabbi Menachem Kasher (author of Torah Sheleimah) wrote a Sefer called “HaAdam al Hayareach”, where he devotes all of chapter 4 to this Rambam. He, too, quotes from the Zohar in a different place to support the Rambam: “Does then the ground so sentient? Yes, as it says (Mishle 3:19) ‘Hashem with wisdom founded the land'” Meaning, He created a land that possesses wisdom. He also quotes more. Rav Chaim Kanievsky also quotes sources throughout Hilchos Deos showing where in Chazal they come from.

    About the Rambam and the Zohar, it is true, though not everyone concurs; the consensus is that the Rambam did not have the Zohar. Nevertheless, there are statements in the Rambam that have no source other than the Zohar (such as “Whoever gets angry is as if he worshipped idols”). The explanations given for this is that the Rambam had Medrashim that we no longer have, plus the Rambam was able to be “mechaven” to Kabbalah even though he did not have the sources.

  • #660589

    Joseph
    Member

    The Yerushalmi says that a Chodesh is established by witnesses, and some girl has her third birthday on that Rosh Chodesh, she gets her besulim and can lose them with a man, but if later those witnesses were proven Zomemim, and we realize she was never three to begin with, nature follows the Torah and her Besulim grow back. This process is obviously not scientific but miraculous, and with no Kidush Hachodesh until Moshiach comes, its going to be difficult for the scientists to observe the process.

    Regarding the Rambam, Reb Yaakov Kaminetzky said that the Rambam’s Hilchos Deos were not intended to be Torah, but rather the Rambam’s secular wisdom. He said, by way of proof, that the Rambam there says the moon is a sentient entity, and now we “see” on TV that it is only a rock.

    Rav Schneur Kotler ZTL said that this statement of Reb Yaakov “may not be said”, and that he remembers that Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk ZTL once said that there are people who hold like this regarding the Rambam, and they are totally wrong, and he (Rav Meir Simchah) would really write a sefer showing that every word of the Rambams Hilchos Deos is culled from Chazal, but the Malbim already wrote such a Sefer so he doesnt need to. Rav Schneur continued, that nobody knew what Rav Meir Simcha was referring to by the Sefer of the Malbim until a few years ago (like 30 years ago from today) they reprinted a Kuntres from the Malbim showing that the Rambam’s Hilchos Deos was all from Chazal.

    Rabbi Menachem Kasher (author of Torah Sheleimah) wrote a Sefer called “HaAdam al Hayareach”, where he devotes all of chapter 4 to this Rambam. He, too, quotes from the Zohar in a different place to support the Rambam: “Does then the ground so sentient? Yes, as it says (Mishle 3:19) ‘Hashem with wisdom founded the land'” Meaning, He created a land that possesses wisdom. He also quotes more. Rav Chaim Kanievsky also quotes sources throughout Hilchos Deos showing where in Chazal they come from.

    About the Rambam and the Zohar, it is true, though not everyone concurs; the consensus is that the Rambam did not have the Zohar. Nevertheless, there are statements in the Rambam that have no source other than the Zohar (such as “Whoever gets angry is as if he worshipped idols”). The explanations given for this is that the Rambam had Medrashim that we no longer have, plus the Rambam was able to be “mechaven” to Kabbalah even though he did not have the sources.

    (reposted from elsewhere)

  • #660590

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Joseph, among the statements of the Rambam in Hilchos Deos are relative sizes of the sun, moon, and earth. They are off by quite a bit from modern accepted figures. Are you going to tell me that the modern astronomers don’t know these sizes? We have a GPS system which is based on the exact positions of satellites. I have reason to believe that scientists know something about orbits. They have also sent man to the moon and back. The Rambam also says the planets are set in hard spheres, and there is no space between these spheres. Why haven’t our rockets crashed into any of them? The gadlus of the Rambam was that he would be the first to say to use the science of our times.

    As far as gemara in Pesachim where Chazal were modeh that the non-Jewish astronomers were right, why in the world should I accept a dochak pshat from the sefer that you quote. What is the hechrech to interpret the gemara any differently than it says in black and white. Note, Rebbe Akiva Eger in the gilyon hashas tries to say Chazal were really right, just did not have a ready answer in that debate, as you try to say, but do you then accept his pshat of bokea chalonei rakia that there is a big window in the sky that opens during the day and closes at night to block the sun?

    Second you keep quoting Rabbonim who validate the scientific knowledge of other Rabbonim from various eras. But that is called preaching to the choir. Can you provide a single instance of a Gadol from any era who was mechadesh a scientific principle which was previously unknown to the world, and is accepted as correct today. I.e., Archimedes lived at the time of Chazal, I believe. He has a principle that is still in physics books today that submerged objects displace their volume of fluid, and floating objects displace their weight.

    Also Pythagoras’s theorem is still used today. While Chazal mention it only for the square case (1:1:1.4 or 4:4:5.6, etc.), it holds for rectangles, too. Please find me a single scientific chidush from a Gadol of any era which demonstrates that they were ahead of the other scientists of their time by virtue of their Torah knowledge and which stands the test of time so that it is correct even today.

    If you want to believe that Chazal and the gedolim of today know modern science, you may believe it. However, don’t expect many of us to believe something which can easily be demonstrated, but has not been. (And which of the 13 articles of faith does it violate, anyway?) Note, the Rambam writes that we are not even required to believe a Navi until he proves himself by means of osos and mofsim. I also recall reading that at least one sefer says one is never obligated to believe something that goes against his physical senses. If you can’t show me a single gadol today that could pass a grad school exam in science, then why should I believe it was different 100 or 300 or 1500 years ago. (Note they could certainly pass if they went to grad school and studied the material, but we are talking about getting it from the Torah alone.)

    Finally, Rashi in many places does mathematical calculations. He very often, despite his derech of always writing as short as possible, will go to great lengths to do a multiplication. Don’t have a ready example, but he will say something like 258.25 times 5 is such and such, keitzad, and then multiply the 200 by 5, and the 50 by 5, and the 8 by 5, and then the fractional part by five, grouping fractional part into whole numbers and remainder,and then add everything up taking many lines to illustrate the correct answer. But this is basically 5th grade math. It took a very long time to set up the problem in those days. They didn’t have the quick mathematical symbols and language we have today. If Rashi lived today, would he spend a whole paragraph doing a simple multiplication? I am chas veshalom not saying anything bad against Rashi. I am just saying that he used the tools available in his times.

    The gadlus of Torah is menschlachkeit and midos. It was not given to be a science book.

    More in future posts, IYH.

  • #660591

    bein_hasdorim
    Participant

    I’ll be very B’kitzur, cuz this will get outta hand if i’m not.

    This is to refute what some have said before which is “shtusim!”

    Pashuteh Yid said: “The gadlus of Torah is menschlachkeit and midos.

    It was not given to be a science book.”

    True, however, I cant say this any clearer, The Torah holds all the information

    as to what is going on in this planet as well as what goes on in the skies & above.

    Those of you who think otherwise are totally mistaken & have bought into western/

    greek/ideology, “Koychi V’oitzem Yodi” etc.. in intellectual terms as well.

    The Scientists today didnt even touch the tip of the iceberg yet, they are full

    of theories, hypothesis, educated guesses, & we accept all their “shtusim” as fact,

    until they find out that they made a mistake,(like recently with the planets)

    & then they publicly state their new finds replacing thir old fact/theory, this is the constant cycle. they mean well, but they are Am Haaratzim playing guessing games.

    Dealing with a universe so vast, their intelligence so limited, their lifes so short, how can they possibly figure out the complexities that are astoundingly larger then

    their mere pathetic finite lives.

    Histakel B’oiraisah Ubarah Alma, HB”H looked into the Torah & created the world.

    I put my faith in the infinite one that created this wonderful magestic universe,

    & put first his scholars & who took their knowledge from his torah, about his

    wonderful world. (so much 4 being m’katzer!)

  • #660592

    starwolf
    Member

    A600KiloBear,

    in response to your posts, yes, the expense of research is quite high, a a great deal is paid for by the taxpayer. The vast majority of this is biomedical research, as funded by the NIH. The studies funded are the basis of hope for cures and treatments. They are the reason that many types of cancer are not immediate death sentences any more. Most of us know someone who has had cancer and is still alive 5 years later.

    As you posted, “there are drones sitting in koilel”. True, there are mediocre people everywhere, and every system can stand self-examination and improvement–the Yeshiva and University worlds are no exceptions. However, we would not judge the Yeshiva world by the mediocre talmidim within, nor by the ones just marking time Nor should we judge the scientific world by the nonproductive people working there. Without the Yeshiva world, what happens to Torah? Without the University system, what happens to science–and thus medicine? Despite the fact that neither world is perfect, they are both necessary for our way of life.

    Regarding the relative contributions to biomedical advancement by the university communities versus the pharmaceutical companies–if you were referring to the same source that I was–sure, she has a political agenda. However, the numbers that she cites are correct. Far more major advances in biomedical science take place in the university system–precisely because of the funding system and the fact that in the university sector, we are well aware that science is a long process, and it can take a long time. We have the advantage of recognizing the value of research and knowledge for its own sake. This can often lead to very significant biomedical advances. Who could have thought that a jellyfish protein could lead to cancer treatments, or Alzheimer’s Disease early diagnostics and potential treatments?

  • #660593

    anon for this
    Participant

    A600KiloBear, you claim that starwolf’s source is biased. What is your source for the assertion that most medical advances are funded by industry? And which industries are funding these advances?

    It is likely true that research for many new drug therapies is funded privately. But the basic science that is behind most medical advances is funded publicly by the NIH. Consider the past 20 or so Nobel Laureates in medicine & physiology: most of their research was not funded by industry.

  • #660594

    haifagirl
    Member

    Pashuteh Yid:

    You asked for an example where Chazal’s knowledge was ahead of the scientific knowledge of the time. How about the length of a lunar month? Unfortunately, almost all my possessions are in storage right now, so I can’t look up the exact figures, but if you look at the amount of time Chazal say it takes for the moon to renew itself, it is 29.????? days. If you look at the historical data from scientists, you will see that as their tools and knowledge progressed, they have come closer and closer to Chazal’s number.

  • #660595

    starwolf
    Member

    I find the above post by bein_hasdorim interesting in that he seems to misunderstand the view that scientists have of science. We recognize that our conclusions are not timeless.; they are based on observation and therefore, can be only as accurate as the instruments that we use. When we discover new methods of measurement or improve the accuracy of our measurements, we can see things that we previously could not, and we thus change our conclusions. This is why science itself continually evolves. The important thing about the science is the data, not the theory. the theory has to fit the data, not the other way around. And we all understand that we do not have the complete story in any scientific discipline.

    Those of us who are religious scientists do recognize the difference between scientific knowledge and Torah knowledge. We argue that there is no contradiction between them, not that there is no difference in the type of information involved.

    bein_hasdorim wrote: “Dealing with a universe so vast, their intelligence so limited, their lifes so short, how can they possibly figure out the complexities that are astoundingly larger then

    their mere pathetic finite lives.””

    We understand this about the universe. However, one could also say the same about Torah. How could our limited intelligence understand a Torah so vast, with our short lifetimes–how could we figure out the complexities of Torah that are astoundingly larger than our mere pathetic lives?”

    There–now does anyone disagree with that? Yet nobody would say that we should not study Torah. Just because we cannot finish the task does not excuse us from the work. And the same applies to science.

    Scientists are not naive about science, nor are we “Am Haaratzim playing guessing games”, as bein_hasdorim would know if he knew exactly what is involved in science. If I may pose a question to him, do you use the words “Am Haaratz” and “shtuss” when you refer to medical advances made by scientists within your brief lifetime? Ones that might save the lives of you or one of your family members? Yes, everything was created by HKB”H–but keep in mind that He chose to reveal it through scientists using the scientific method, which you refer to as “shtuss”.

  • #660596

    zalmy
    Member

    i am curious as to the degree of formal (or even informal) scientific education possessed by those on this board who relate to contemporary science/math with terms like “shtusim”, “nonsense”, “sheker”, “kefira”, (or even just “boring”), etc.. i’m expecting to hear either that 1. these various posters actually have studied science on a graduate level (or perhaps even hold Ph.D.’s), or 2. science is such “shtus” that any 10 year old in yeshiva can tell you its a waste of time.

    i suspect that those who are arguing most loudly that science is “shtus” and we can learn all of science exclusively from torah have actually had a very limited exposure to science/the study of science. in all likelihood this may be something they are proud of. but we should also consider how much value can be ascribed to the opinion of someone who may admittedly be completely ignorant on the subject he is addressing.

    of course, i would be very happy to be proven wrong. so – to those who relate to contemporary science/math as “sheker”, “shtus”, etc. (you know who you are): please indicate the level of your formal scientific education, and/or whether you have studied (hard) science on a graduate level.

  • #660597

    PY:

    See my earlier post on this thread regarding Rashbam & Tosfos, the diagonal of a rectangle (Pythagoran theorem), and P’shat in the Gemorah in Bava Basra 102a.

  • #660598

    feivel
    Participant

    zalmy

    no one here is obligated to inform you of their educational background

    i, myself have given my background on previous posts.

    science is not shtus.

    scientism, the modern avodah zorah, the blind faith worship of scientists and their pronouncements is far worse than “shtus”

  • #660599

    ZachKessin
    Member

    Actually the length of the Molad is off by about 6/10 of a second. And while that number is pretty good that error does add up. The time that the new moon should be seen in Jerusalem according to the molad now is closer to when it would be seen in Kabul.

    The truth is that the Babylonians had very good numbers on the lunar cycle 2300 years ago, as did the Greeks (who got them from the Babylonians).

    I actually recorded a podcast about the Hebrew calendar with my Rabbi for 365 days of Astronomy, it should air at some point in the next few months I hope.

    For the record I have a BA in physics (including astronomy)

  • #660600

    000646
    Participant

    Joseph,

    The Rambam states that the moon is one fourtieth the size of earth we now know it is about one fourth the size of the earth.

    Rambam states that there is no star bigger then the sun we now know that there are.

    Rambam (yisodei hatorah 3:4) states that the sun is located in the sphere between mercury and mars wich would mean that there should be no planets between mercury and mars except for the sun. We now know that this is simply not true (we live on a planet between mercury and mars and we arn’t on the sun!).

  • #660601

    sammygol
    Member

    The Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Central American Indians all had extremely advanced calculations relating to the lunar cycle. None of them had gotten this information from the Torah. Conversely, the Rambam states that the numbers used by Chazal are very slightly imprecise, yet, it isn’t due to their lack of the correct values, but in order to enable easier calculations. It is an error, he says, that does not change the date of the Molad when used with witnesses.

    Our calendar sanctified by Hillel Sheni, though, IS problematic, since it is Julian and not Gregorian. Anyone opening a siddur to “tal umotor” will see that in every century those words are added a day later. Pesach DOES occur later than T’fufas Nissan by now, and Succos crosses into cold wintry weather, due to the accumulation of 2 weeks’ error since the time of Hillel. It has been proposed that, while knowing that this would be the fact, Hillel chose to use an existant callendar to facilitate the coming generations in having a working system, rather than to have the Jews using their own solar callendar in addition to lunar one. It has also been suggested that nobody envisioned the actual length of the golus before being mekadesh al pi eidim will resume, and, therefore, having few days artificially added would do no harm, as the tekufos would still be preserved. While nobody today can know with certainty Hillel’s reasoning, it is a solid fact that our traditional callendar, as practiced, is way off, but until the 15th century neither the Jewish sources, nor the Roman/European scientific ones ever mentioned being aware of this discrepancy.

    Instead of today’s style of bashing the scientific advances as “done by goyim, whose only aim is to disprove the Torah”, which in itself is an imbecilic claim, Chazal embraced knowledge, and used it. They were so sure of the absolute truth of the Divine laws, that they never feared that a new discovery would shake the foundations of their faith. Today people are afraid, but instead of fearing their own ignorance they place the blame on those doing the research, as having sinister motives. Please, which astronomer examining the evidence for Black Holes, or which geneticist finding the molecular code for Tay Sachs did so in order to destroy the Biblical value system or to prove Rabbi so-and-so wrong?

    The same benighted fools who yell “shtusim” and “kefira” from these pages run to the doctor for antibiotics, get their X Rays and MRI’s, fly on airplanes, and yes, listen to radio, all invented or discovered by those useless scientists who are drones, duds, and convince others of veracity of their research only to obtain more funding.

    Who are the hypocritical fools after that?

  • #660602

    feivel
    Participant

    the diameter of the moon is one fourth of the earth

    however its volume is about one fiftieth of the earth

    our knowledge of the size of stars is of course indirect and based on numerous unproven assumptions of the methodology of measurement, and of course old assumptions are often replaced by newer ones (the old ones are usually laughed at). if one has faith in our indirect “measurement” of something trillions and trillions and trillions of miles away, your argument is weak to anyone who is nor enamored by Scientism.

    your third point seems valid at this point

  • #660603

    sammygol
    Member

    646

    Why bother? Chazal accepted the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, with all the rigid spheres, fixed orbits, “windows”, “curtains” and suchlike heavenly debris that was used by the Greeks. This went unchallenged until after the Middle Ages, neither by the scientific world, nor by the Jewish one.

    While nobody knows the true meaning of the “Rakia”, it certainly isn’t a crystal ceiling in the sky, as despribed in our own sefarim. To pound one’s fist that Chazal’s scientific interpretation of T’NaCH was impeccably accurate despite concrete and obvious evidence to the contrary will only serve to devalue the Torah itself as having been written by men, and not given from Above. After all, how could one claim that it is the ultimate truth, if it verily contradicts the basic facts of life. It makes infinitely more sense to maintain that Hashem’s Torah IS perfect, but that humans, even Divinely inspired ones, explained the scientific parts thereof according to what they understood to the best of their ability. Just as a Navi in his visions saw what he could relate to, and used the terminology that he was used to, Chazal employed the latest knowledge obtainable in their time to explain the Torah.

  • #660604

    Joseph
    Member

    Gavra @ Work:

    The Rambam you quoted is referring to a Beis Din situation; the question asked here was regarding a kashrus shaila to a posek. If you “witnessed” the kitchen staff in your yeshiva bringing in tarfus, and asked (say) the Rema a shaila (as he was the Rov of the town), and the heilige Rema paskened unquestionably that it is kosher — and furthermore the Rema ordered you to eat it (perhaps so the other talmidim don’t refuse to eat it based on your eidus), what would you do? [Remember the Rema is issuing a psak. This was the question posed on this thread.]

    It would seem to be similar to the Gemorah in Rosh Hashana 25a where Rabban Gamlier forced Rabbi Yehoshua to walk to him with his wallet and stick, on the day he calculated to be Yom Kippur.

  • #660605

    feivel
    Participant

    one hundred years ago to suggest that the speed of an object going exactly 30 miles an hour in relation to another object going exactly 30 miles an hour in the opposite direction is less than 60 miles an hour, would have been infinitely laughable, against laws proven as steel (more than concrete), and completely and irrefutably self evident.

    the best scientists of that time would easily accepted a bet of their lives against a dollar, as to the absolute falsity of such a statement of lunacy. then of course came einstein.

    typical of the history of deep theory in science

    remember when there was NO QUESTION, NONE, AT ALL, that the universe revolved around the earth. SELF EVIDENT!

    of course today people like you and me are above making such mistakes.

    but try to think beyond your little point in time. try to expand your perspective, try not to worship science, think a little more broadly.

  • #660606

    Anonymous

    Thank you everyone for sharing your opinions. I think we can close this thread now.

    CLOSED

  • #660607

    Anonymous

    After receiving several requests to have this thread reopened, we’ve decided to open it up for discussion again.

    Enjoy.

    OPEN

  • #660608

    Joseph
    Member

    “However, he also is fully aware of the limitations of science. In particular, he is aware of the great number of issues which are not proven fact but are primarily hypotheses and guesses. Many of these theories are very doubtful speculations upon which other speculations are built daily. That which today is praised and glorified as if it were the absolute truth is questioned tomorrow and then rejected. It is uncertain that which can be fully accepted. At the same time, there are things in the books of the previous generations which for 50 or 100 years have been viewed as ridiculous and false by the scholars. Then someone decides that in fact there is some truth in these views. There is also profound knowledge of the ancients which has been lost that we still lack.”

  • #660609

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    I thought this dvar torah was prudent, at least for Ames original question. It was taken from yutorah.org:

    Shamayim and Eretz are obviously not equipped to serve as witnesses; what did Moshe intend by invoking them as such?

    Again, Heaven and Earth are again likened to organic, thinking beings. How can Shamayim and Eretz, which are lifeless and have no desires, serve as examples and provide standards for living humans, who have brains, freedom, passions and inclinations?

  • #660610

    Joseph
    Member

    From the article “Scientific theory”:

    Description and prediction

    Echoing the philosopher Karl Popper, Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time states, “A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements: It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations.” He goes on to state, “Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis; you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.” The “unprovable but falsifiable” nature of theories is a consequence of the necessity of using inductive logic.

    Assumptions to formulate a theory

    something accepted without proof, and it is incorrect to speak of an assumption as either true or false, since there is no way of proving it to be either (If there were, it would no longer be an assumption). It is better to consider assumptions as either useful or useless, depending on whether deductions made from them corresponded to reality. … On the other hand, it seems obvious that assumptions are the weak points in any argument, as they have to be accepted on faith in a philosophy of science that prides itself on its rationalism. Since we must start somewhere, we must have assumptions, but at least let us have as few assumptions as possible.

    Example: Special Theory of Relativity

  • #660612

    FunnyBunny
    Member

    sammygol, well said. I agree with you 1000%.

  • #660613

    bein_hasdorim
    Participant

    starwolf: I do not “misunderstand the view that scientist have of science”.

    Thank you though for so eloquently attempting to represent scientists and science

    as a whole. I cannot & do not speak for all scientists, however, I make a distinction between science & those who study it. (notice I didn’t comment about studying science)

    starwolf said; “The important thing about the science is the data, not the theory.

    the theory has to fit the data, not the other way around”

    Lets Talk about “The Big Bang Theory.” What conclusive data do they have

    to fit that theory?

    Next Lets Talk about doctors, I didnt bring up doctors. They are shluchim of HB”H

    (at least most of them) & even though they have a long way to go, at least they have pure evidence to observe, study, & learn from. They are able to examine & explore

    human bodies, test animals etc.. & figure out as best as they can what is going on.

    zalmy: read what feivel wrote.

    My degrees? Come into my office and you’ll see them on the wall.

    feivel: thanks for getting my point, as some have obviously missed.

    Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, or perhaps some scientists pickup

    only on what their data tells them minus the common sense.

    in mathematical form:

    Data

    – Common Sense

    ________________

    Shtusim

    G’mar Chasima Toiva!

  • #660614

    starwolf
    Member

    The word “theory is often misused when referring to the scientific sense of the term.

    All kinds of knowledge are based on assumptions, including Torah knowledge.

    A scientific theory is never proven. It is an explanation that accounts for the facts observed. A theory may be disproven, when scientific observations demonstrate that it cannot be. In general, theories are modified as more scientific information is acquired. No scientific theory is expected to be final, as we will always be increasing our levels of accuracy of measurement, as well as designing new methods of measurement. When measured observations contradict a theory, it is the theory that must be modified to fit the observations, not vice-versa.

    Of course, conflicting theories about a given topic may exist. The conflict can remain until a set of experiments can be devised that disproves one or the other. Other than that, usually the one that has the preponderance of evidence supporting it will prevail.

    I am not sure why Joseph is posting EDITED about scientific theory. Is he trying to show that scientific knowledge is acquired in a different manner than is Torah knowledge? We all know that.

  • #660615

    areivimzehlazeh
    Participant

    b_h: “My degrees? Come into my office and you’ll see them on the wall.”

    well said!! I’m hoping the rest of this crowd got it…

  • #660616

    feivel
    Participant

    A scientific theory….. is an explanation that accounts for the facts observed.

    you have to understand, however, that a basic principle of science is that: “just because: if a particular explanation were true, then that would explain the observed facts, does NOT make the theory true or even likely.”

    for example:

    my car didnt start today

    well if it were the case that an escaped monkey poured some sugar in my gastank that WOULD explain why my car didnt start. but it is not a proof of my monkey theory.

  • #660617

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    Feivel wrote: “A scientific theory….. is an explanation that accounts for the facts observed.

    you have to understand, however, that a basic principle of science is that: “just because: if a particular explanation were true, then that would explain the observed facts, does NOT make the theory true or even likely.”

    for example:

    my car didnt start today

    well if it were the case that an escaped monkey poured some sugar in my gastank that WOULD explain why my car didnt start. but it is not a proof of my monkey theory.”

    While I believe that this statement is technically correct, I think it gives only a partial picture of how science works. Once the monkey poured sugar in my gas tank theory is formulated, a scientist would set about to test it. And while tests will never be conclusive, the will make something more likely. If you formulate the theory that your engine is not starting because a monkey poured sugar in your gas tank, the next step to test this theory would be to leave your monkey, uncaged, with an open box of sugar in your garage for a certain amount of days, and also leave your car in the garage without the monkey and sugar for a certain number of days as a control. If everytime you left the monkey and sugar with the car, it failed to start, that would make it more likely, although not conclusive that the monkey theory is correct, particularly if on the days in the control group, the car started.

    You’re making it sound as if scientists just make up the most ridiculous thing they can find to explain an observable phenomenon, and that’s not the case. Before a theory is accepted as a good (but by nature, not definitive) theory, it is subject to rigorous testing.

  • #660618

    sammygol
    Member

    If Chazal truly had a perfect, Torah-derived knowledge of sciences, let us examine some medical matters.

    Starting with Rabbon Yochanan Ben Zakai, who requested a Roman physician, no less, to treat Rabbi Tzadok, instead of doing it himself? Why had those Amoroim who practiced medicine limit themselves to “complex” bloodletting, instead of using the exact treatment alluded to in the Torah? They MUST have known about bacterial and viral causes of disease, and which molds to use against the former! Why had Rambam relied on Galen and Avicenna, whom he quoted all the time, when they were both right AND wrong, rather that relying on strict Torah knowledge? How come the Gemara prohibits a Jew from dwelling in a city that lacks a physician? Shouldn’t a Rav, especially of the Tannaic or Amoraic caliber suffice?

    How come Roshey Yeshiva, Rebbes, Rabbanim of yesteryear traveled to Berlin, Vienna, and Zurich for treatments and surgeries, and paid huge sums to have some uncircumcised “professor” examine them and prescribe a useless potion? Why have the poskim personally inquired of gentile physicians regarding surgeries and other methods of treatment before issuing a p’sak regarding its permissibility?

    Someone brought Rabbi Firer into this thread. Well, why does he consult medical books and doctors rather than the immensely great Talmidei Chachomim in B’nei Brak? Why did Rav Moshe, and now Rav Elyashiv have a trained physician that can be consulted on medical matters? Have they lost their ability to derive the proper cures from the Torah, or was the mesorah lost. If the former, when did that happen, and if the latter, if we are to trust their mesorah in halacha, why was this particular, and IMPORTANT part of it forgotten or left untransmitted?

    Lastly, when it comes to their OWN health, they prefer using top notch medical facilities and obtain access to the very best specialists, instead of asking their chavrusos to cure them. WHY????

  • #660619

    Hishtadlus perhaps? The pasuk: the healer shall heal, perhaps?

    Do you know the answer to your own questions as you imply you do?

    Have you heard them say why they do?

  • #660620

    feivel
    Participant

    You’re making it sound as if scientists just make up the most ridiculous thing they can find to explain an observable phenomenon, and that’s not the case.

    actually thats the classic scenario given to illustrate that principle in various texts and lectures on the philosophy of science, or metascience. i didnt make it up

  • #660621

    sammygol
    Member

    Hishtadlus? Of course. However, if, as some claim, they truly KNOW all the medical matters contained within Torah, why won’t using those PERFECT and ABSOLUTE cures suffice as hishtadlus? And yes, I have heard them explain why they use every available medical treatment. It is because of “chochma bagoyim – ta’amin” and, while knowing that every last scientific fact is, indeed, contained in the Torah, they freely acknowledge that it is not known to them.

    When a new discovery or law of nature is established, looking into the p’sukim can show that it was clearly alluded to. Yet, that doesn’t mean that it was known to be such, or derived by the chachomim from the Torah itself. Just as not every secret of Ma’aseh Bereishis or Merkava was understood by each great scholar, even though they studied it assiduously day and night, scientific matters, which did not concern them, were even more elusive to derivation. This in now way detracts from their true Gadlus in Torah matters. It DOES point to their honesty and search for truth, employing knowledge obtained from every source and person.

    When Rabbi Yishmoel allowed human dissection to count the bones in human body, he didn’t rely on Sh’sa and R’mach of the mesorah, for what would have been the permissibility of nivul hames? To prove the Torah right to Tannaim, of all people? This is also the reason for permissibility of an autospy to cure another suffering of the same disease. Why dissect a body, when one can dissect a posuk?

    Yes, Torah training and Sayata Dishmaya allows our Gedolim to understand some of the most complex scientific and medical matters, WHEN they specifically apply themselves to that end. I have witnessed the speed with which Gedolei Yisroel plumbed to the depth of complex Genetics issues or comprehended most arcane formulae of Quantum Mechanics. However, all that was AFTER they were instructed in these matters by professionals, or read the books that deal with such. They had the humility to ask a much younger person, sometimes totally unlearned in the basics of Judaism, to explain to them how things function, how matter is constructed, and how the world turns. Sometimes these discussions were followed by “Oy, THIS must be what the posuk in Yechezkel means with one extra letter!! Amazing! See how everything is included in the Torah!” At other times they sat in silent awe of the Creation and of the Ribono Shel Olam, who allowed human minds to unveil His wondrous secrets. I recall being in the presence of a Gadol Hador who sat in stunned silence, with sparkling eyes, after hearing of the latest discoveries made through the Hubble telescope. Finally he spoke, and the only words that came out were “Moyradik!! Dos is takke moyradik!! Ver ken fershteyn Der Boirei Oilam!!” Had he known these facts previously from his Gemara studies, why would he be so incredulous after wasting some two hours listening to what the goyim just found out?

    There is a reason why Chazal instituted a b’racha to be said on a scholar of science, yes, a non-Jewish one.

  • #660622

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Rabbosai, there is much to say, but short of time. However, GavraAtWork alerted me to an earlier post of his which I had missed that is a watershed event. You all need to go back and read his post on Bava Basra 102, and the accompanying Rashbam and Tosfos. Look them up directly. It is clear that both of these Rishonim made a clear mathematical error. They did not know how to properly calculate the diagonal of a 4×6 rectangle. This, despite the fact that Pythagoras showed how to do it a thousand or so years before. They were unaware. Not only does it seem from there that Chazal were not ahead of their times, but were in fact behind their times. I was stunned when I saw it.

    All of those arguing that Chazal knew all science need to give an answer here. Since this was math, and math is the underpinning and language of science, if one does not know basic math, there is no way to understand modern science.

    The answers which are usually given such as nishtanah hateva cannot be used here. Has the diagonal of a rectangle changed in the last few thousand years? The other answers that have been used here that scientists change their minds, but that eventually we will discover that Chazal were right all along since they have absolute truth also does not seem to be possible here. Will mathematicians ever discover that the Pythagorean theorem was wrong? Very unlikely. A mathematical proof must be iron-clad, and there are many, many proofs of this theorem, of which even a single one is strong enough to guarantee its truth for all posterity. Furthermore, all you need to do is to go measure the rectangle with a ruler or string and see for yourself that Pythagoras was right.

    It is absolutely clear from here that the claim that Chazal knew all about science is completely false. This will require a sea-change in hashkafa. If I had seen Gavra’s post earlier, I would not have used the examples I used about the size and trajectory of the sun and planets or the supposed heavenly spheres to make this point. Gavra’s proof is a million times stronger.

    Again, you all need to drop everything and cease all posting until you read Gavra’s earlier post and then come back and discuss. It is pointless to continue until then, although there is plenty more to say.

  • #660624

    sammygol
    Member

    That’s very clever.

    Please don’t submit it a third time. You know why it was deleted.

  • #660625

    sammygol
    Member

    Actually I don’t. Care to explain?

    Yes, we try not to allow posts that insult other posters.

  • #660626

    squeak
    Participant

    Pashuteh Yid

    ….It is clear that both of these Rishonim made a clear mathematical error. They did not know how to properly calculate the diagonal of a 4×6 rectangle. This, despite the fact that Pythagoras showed how to do it a thousand or so years before. They were unaware. Not only does it seem from there that Chazal were not ahead of their times, but were in fact behind their times. I was stunned when I saw it……..

    BUT THEN YOU SAY….

    ….Furthermore, all you need to do is to go measure the rectangle with a ruler or string and see for yourself……

    An oiber chochom. So according to your understanding, Chazal were not only behind their time, they were also too stupid CH”V to do what any 2nd grader can do, i.e. take a string and measure? Klop al chait again. If you have a hard time imagining that Chazal knew more about physics than we do now, I can understand your position. But do you really think CH”V that Chazal couldn’t even measure something properly?

    Now, if they CAN measure properly, why did they make that mistake? So you have a question. Fun a kashe shtarb men nischt. Uber men ken leben mit a teretz, right? 😉

    This Gemara may have been news to a poshute Yid, but it’s not to me. Nor to any mathematically inclined individual who has studied Gemara. In fact, there are many Gemaros that are “famous” to the mathematically inclined. I can name you a few other places where the Gemara and the Rishonim discuss mathematical ideas and are quite imprecise (to be polite). One example is Succah daf 8a where they discuss the relationship between the circumference and the area of a circle (pool of Shlomo Hamelech). The quantity they seek is Pi, but their approximations are not even close to those that the Greeks produced thousands of years earlier! Behind the times? No, it’s not that at all. Slow down and think.

    This is how I would explain it: In my understanding, there has to be a purpose to mathematical precision. In the case of these Gemaros, there is no purpose to precision – it would only serve to confuse those who could not understand such an esoteric concept. You are right that nowadays general education is far better than it was, and that now there are more lay people who appreciate precision. But when we are discussing matters of halacha, most of which have to be implemented by the average Poshite Yid, who may not (or most likely not, I should say) be able to perform accurate mathematical calculations – requiring precision would cause errors in halacha. Therefore, in these matters of Halacha Chazal intentionally used approximations.

    Don’t believe me? Well, a few months ago I posted about Bircas Hachama. This is an event that occurs once in 28 years. But does it really occur that often? No. It is only due to an approximation that Chazal used to calculate the event. What about the equinox and solstice? Do you know when we start saying V’sain Tal U’matar in CH”L? It is 60 days after the fall equinox. Is it really? No. It is really on December 4th or 5th. Why? Because we don’t use the REAL equinox in the calculation – as that would cause confusion. Rather, we use an approximate equinox so that the time is fixed. Most of the time the approximation is far off, but if the halacha was set with precision, once again the Poshite Yid would err and start counting 60 days at the wrong time.

    So does that mean that Chazal could not perform accurate calculations? CH”V! Of course they could – and did. In fact, when it comes to matters of halacha that are implemented only by Beis Din the calculations are extremely precise. One example is the Molad. We have been calculating the exact Molad for Rosh Chodesh for ages. It’s on our calendars, so we don’t need to calculate it ourselves.

    There are many examples, but I know if my post gets too long you will just skim and I think you need to read everything I wrote. ‘Watershed event’ indeed. Please don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions, especially when you are CH”V “judging” Chazal.

    G’mar Chasima Tova.

  • #660627

    sammygol
    Member

    Squeak,

    You are correct in your explanation. Tosafos themselves, regarding Pi, say that 1/3 of circumference is imprecise, but, since the whole din of koreh is midivreihem, they did not wish to encumber people with exact measurements, and, if one measures a beam to be 3 t’fachim around, he can assume, as far as the halacha is concerned, to satisfy the requirement of a tefach’s thickness.

    The Rishonim, furthermore, explain that the various shiurim for Deoraysa mitzvos were also given in imprecise-by-definition measurements of kezais, amah, etc, to enable every Jew no matter where to observe these Mitzvos. Not only aren’t all olives equal, but those of one land will differ from the ones in another, yet, consuming a local olive’s size measure of Matza will satisfy the halacha, and eating the same shiur of chelev will make one chayav chatos.

    One should not confuse Chazal’s deliberate imprecision in regard to measurements needed for daily observance with lack of knowledge in natural sciences.

  • #660628

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Squeak, I read your whole post, but you know that deliberately approximating the molad and the value of pi or the square root of 2 to simplify calculations, which I completely accept, does not seem to be comparable to what the Rishonim were discussing in Bava Basra. Tosfos seems to say that the diagonal of a 4×6 rectangle is less than that of a 5×5. If he wanted to approximate, why not agree with the Rashbam who, one could for arguments sake, say that he chose a 5×5 as an approximation to a 4×6, since it is a nice round number.

    But Tosfos argues and says that the Rashbam is wrong, and that the diagonal of a 4×6 is actually less than a 5×5, since a 5×5 has 25 [square] amos, while a 4×6 has 24 [square] amos. But, in reality, the 4×6 has a longer diagonal. So while you could in theory defend the Rashbam with your approach (gemara sometimes says lo dak), however, when Tosfos comes to differ and complain that the Rashbam’s value is not exact enough, and instead gives a different value which it turns out is even more inexact and in the wrong direction, then there is a problem. In addition, we both know that using the area of a rectangle is not a good way of gauging the diagonal, since for example a 1×12 rectangle would have a diagonal more than twice that of a 5×5, even though its area is less than half.

  • #660629

    squeak
    Participant

    I will recheck, but I’m pretty sure I remember that the “less than” is a printing error and he is actually saying “more than”.

  • #660630

    amok
    Participant

    Haifagirl, you are correct, and therfore those that deny students the finer details of math and geometry, (beyond 5th grade level) deny them the opportunity of understanding of Hilchos Kiddush haChodesh.

    We understood your point to the moderators, and I hope you understood ours. 26

  • #660631

    squeak
    Participant

    Pashuteh Yid, I retract what I said in my last post about a “printer error” and I apologize for it. It is most definitely not a printer error, and I was wrong to brush off your question in that way. Over Shabbos, I reviewed the Gemara and only then did I remember how to resolve this question.

    The Gemara gives an approximation for measuring the diagonal of a perfect square as being 1.4 times the side. This is an acceptable approximation for the true measurement, which is 2^.5, and in fact this approximation for root 2 is used often by college students (as is 1.7 for root 3).

    The issue at hand though, is not a perfect square but a rectangle, and the calculation of the diagonal cannot be defined by a single simple multiplicative rule (rather, one would need the Pythagorian Theorem, which is above the understanding of many, esp. in the dark ages). The Gemara requires that 8 amos be checked, and this is rounding up from the true measurement of approximately 7.2. In this way, the Gemara uses the rule of 1.2 times the longest side (or as the Rashbam put it, an equivalent length to the diagonal of a 5×5) and then some. It is using the approximation l’chumra.

    Now the problem seems to be with Tosaphos, who says at the very end that a 5×5 must have a diagonal at least as great as a 4×6, because the area is greater. We know that this is fallacious mathematically. However, this sugya has nothing at all to do with teaching mathematics, and everything to do with ensuring that the property in question does not contain any carcasses. Therefore, what we are really concerned with is not drawing a diagonal across the chamber – but with checking a specific portion of the chamber to ensure that it is free of bodies. That is the reason why Tosaphos says that the chamber with the greater area (5×5) should have the greater checking requirement. He is saying that the Halacha should be that the 4×6 chamber can be ruled Tahor with less checking than the 5×5, because there is less area to check. Not that the true diagonal is shorter.

    Ritva says this openly – he says that the diagonal that the Gemara speaks of is not straight but rather zigs and zags so as to make a complete 8 amos. In this way he resolves the 20 amos that are required to be checked as 6+8+6.

  • #660632

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    First, SJsinNYC, a big Mazel Tov on the baby. May you have much nachas.

    Second, Squeak, After having a chance to look at the gemara in more detail on Shabbos, I will take back my post, but for a different reason. It is clear the language of the Rashbam and Tosfos is completely megumgam, so I don’t know if we even have the correct text of either. (Note, in general, to change a girsa is very difficult to say, and borders on heresy, but for the honor of the rishonim, I think it can be done here. The Rashbam at first mentions that the 5×5 has a diagonal of 8, which even according to the gemaras well-known approxiimation that sqrt(2) =1.4, is wrong, and should read 7. Then he says that a 6×6 has diagonal 8.4, which seems totally irrelevant to the flow. He then brings in the 5×5 again. Possibly, a printer confused the shnei chumshin of the 8.4 with shnei chamishin (5×5). Maybe the Rashbam was trying to use 6×6 as a rough estimate of 4×6 (not 5×5), and say that it equals about 8, as well. (This would be a pshat in the Rashbam’s chada shiura, 4×6~6×6, they share a common dimension.)Then Tosfos fits very well. He first draws a picture of a 4×4 within a 4×6. He shows that the 4×4 has diag 5.6, and adding the two additional amos to get 4×6, means that at maximum, the diagonal of the 4×6 is 7.6, so how could the Rashbam say 8? Plus, if you use the direct diagonal in his picture, rather than the 2-step diagonal, kol shechain that it is less than even 7.6. Then in the second half of Tosfos one would have to change the girsa as well and say that 6×6=36 which is more square amos than 4×6=24 so for that reason, as well, the 6×6 is greater than the 4×6. So we can possibly defend both, but need to change girsos quite a bit.

    However, merely because I initially said Chazal didn’t know how to calculate the diagonal is not an insult to Chazal, it just means they weren’t familiar with Pythagoras’s theorem. It is not an insult to say about current physicists that they don’t know cold fusion. It hasn’t been done yet. Note also, that in my original post I didn’t say Chazal didn’t know how to measure with a string, I said one can verify the Pythag thm with a string. In our case, differentiating the diag of a 4×6 from a 5×5 with string would be very hard, as they are so close, only a few percent apart.

    Finally, in my second post above it should say that the 1×12 has diag *almost* twice the 5×5, not *more than*.

  • #660633

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Squeak, I still question why in say a very clear Tosfos like in Sukkah 8a where he shows that the 1.4 value is actually less than the true sqrt(2), he doesn’t bring up the Pythag Thm. I am not aware of any mention in classical sefarim of it,, although diagonals are brought up a number of places in shas. I still don’t buy that the Rishonim were aware of it, although, as before, I take back that they made an actual error, since it may be a bad girsa.

    Joseph, let me amplify my earlier post to you of “singing to the choir”. Suppose you were running a kiruv seminar and advertised that the Talmudic Rabbis knew modern science. You get a large crowd, and really have their interest piqued. The people are anxious for some proof. They expect some discussion of inventions and some slides showing advanced physics and math. They are all excited. Instead, you say, “Folks you know what the proof is, Rabbi B says that Rabbi A knew science. Rabbi C says we must believe everything Rabbi B said. Rabbi D once referred to Rabbi C as the wonder of the generation who knew everything. Rabbi E says that anybody who doubts Rabbi C is a complete heretic. This concludes my presentation.”

    Joseph, have you made a convincing case to these non-religious people? They are not interested in what Rabbis say about other Rabbis. They want you to show them the pudding. You need to come up with specific examples of advanced science, not long lists of quotes.

    Interestingly, the Chazon Ish in Emuna uBitachon tries to do that, and shows some sources, like the fact that in Tanach, they removed the spleen of runners to make them go faster. The Egyptians also used to sterilize horses by removing the womb (or maybe cows, don’t remember) to make it harder to breed them so they could keep prices high. Also, a few other examples. He tries to say that earlier generations in general did not try to invent, just to study chochma. However, I am not at all sure I buy this argument.

    Finally, let me openly state my negiah here. My point in being skeptical about this principle that the gedolim knew science from Torah, is because it is a convenient excuse for denying a generation any secular knowledge, and telling them they can know everything they need even if they don’t complete more than 7th or 8th grade, as long as they learn. The kids are told that ignorance is a virtue, and are crippled when they enter the job market. Then the rabbonim are only too happy to write them a letter to carry around saying they need support from the klal. I simply don’t believe it. However, if one can find me a single knowledgeable gadol today in science or math who did not study it from secular sources, but only from Torah, I will eat my hat. (I don’t wear a hat, but I will go out and buy one especially to eat. I will serve an entire seudah of hat to many guests.)

  • #660634

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Squeak, I did not see your recent post about no printer error, when I posted mine about a possible suggested printer error.

  • #660636

    Joseph
    Member

    Regarding your kiruv comment, keep in mind we cannot lead astray yirei shmayim in the name of attempted kiruv. We cannot engage in apologetics in difficult concepts, because you feel it may not be the best approach to kiruv.

    The most important point in this discussion is to always remember that nature follows the Torah, the Torah does not have to follow nature. (As I earlier brought from the Yerushalmi about Besulim and Eidem Zomemim.)

  • #660639

    ZachKessin
    Member

    Lets Talk about “The Big Bang Theory.” What conclusive data do they have

    to fit that theory?

    There are 3 major points of data to support the big bang.

    1) All galaxies outside of the local group are receding from us. And specifically the speed they are moving away is directly tied to the distance. Specifically that speed works out to 70Km/s/Mpc +/- 7 (mpc = mega parsec or 3.26 million light years). This was first observed by Edwin Hubble in the 1920’s and has been refined ever since. Actually one of the prime missions of the Hubble space telescope was to refine that number my measuring distances to the galaxies in the Virgo cluster.

    2) The Cosmic Microwave Background, This was discovered by Penzias and Wilson at Bell labs in the 1960’s quite by accident. But the entire sky is filled with microwave radiation of a very specific spectrum that indicates that the universe which is now cold was at one point a uniform hot dense gas.

    3) The distribution of chemical elements in space. The fact that the universe is about 75% hydrogen, 24% helium and 1% everything else can only be explained by the Big Bang. And the level of Deuterium actually puts some very specific constraints on the details of the model.

    There are of course a large number of details of all 3 of those points that I have left out because they are beyond what I can put in a single forum post. If you really care google “Richard Pogge Astronomy 162” and you will find some podcasts that have a bunch more detail but are still understandable to someone who is not an astronomer.

  • #660640

    lesschumras
    Participant

    Several posters in this thread have discounted science by insisting that Hashem created the world in 6 24 hour days, 5770 years ago, insisting on a literal translation. What’s being ingnored is miforshim who reconcile the apparent age of the world ( including fossils) by explaining that the pre-flood world had different physical characteristics than our own ( witness lifespans exceeding 500 years ). and that “day” in Breishis were millions of years in duration.

    However,they have a right to insist on a leteral translation here, just be consistent. Yehudah’s relationship with Tamar therefor, by their reasoning, requires a literal translation and is what it is. Same with the behaviour of the shvatim in the sale of Yoseph, the idol worhip of Bnei Yisroel throughout Tanach etc.

  • #660641

    Joseph
    Member

    lesschumras:

    The Gemorah and Rashi (Chagiga 31a) explicitly state the 6 days were 24 hour periods. See my earlier messages.

    BTW Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita paskened that if a non-Jew wants to convert, and he is 100% committed to accepting Torah and Mitzvos, but he believes the world is billions of years old, it is prohibited to convert him, and if you did convert him, the conversion is possibly invalid altogether (“yitachen d’afilu dieved lo mahani, vtzarich iyun”).

    Additionally, regarding answering scientists and those who have blind faith in them about the age of the world, first, just like the flaw in their “vestigial organ” logic, the entire concept of measuring the age of the world the way the scientsts do is based on the assuption that the world was not created by a Creator. But if you say that the world was created the way the Torah tells us it was, that is, a full-blown world, complete with stars visible in the sky, full-grown trees and animals (and a human), a totally, fully developed and mature world, then their logic falls apart.

    Because wHen the world was created, it already had an age. In other words, when Adam for instance was created, he was an adult, even though he was one day old; there were fully grown trees; the sun’s light already reached the earth; an entire world existed, full-blown and OLD. How old was the world at the moment it was created? I dont know — it doesn’t say. But we do know that it didn’t start from scratch. And so lets say a “scientist” would chop down a tree 1 week after it was created and find maybe 50 rings inside – would that prove that the tree was 50 years old? To the scientists it would, and the “tree ring” concept is used as one of their “proofs” that the world is over 6,000 years old. But the truth is it prove no such thing, becuase when the tree was created it was created as an adult, 50 year old tree.

    So even if dating would be accurate, it still doesn’t prove that the world was not created 6,000 years ago – because when it was created, it already could have been thousands or millions of quardrillions of years old.

    That is the first thing to understand when dealing with the “true believers” of science. But even if they will come up with something that cannot be explained by the above, there is a Torah principle that you must know that has been used long before any of today’s scientists or their grandparents were born, that tells us that although the world was in fact created 6,000 years ago, we know that it possesses all and every characteristic of a world that is much, much older. The Torah actually expects scientific measurements of the age of the universe to return an age of much, much more than 6,000 years. ANd we have known this for centuries.

    [this star]

    The Divrei Chaim does not tell us the location of the Yaaros Dvash. But the Divrei Yoel (Simchas Torah p.613) identifies it as being in 2 places: Vol. I, Drush 1 and Drush 15. There, it quotes a Medrash (Rabbah 10:4) that before the Sin of Adam the Mazalos operated much more rapidly. After the Sin, the Mazalos operated much slower and longer. With this Medrash, he explains the fact that we pasken that both the opinion that the world was created in Nisan, and the opinion that the world was created in Tishri, are true. Says the Yaaros Dvash: because the Mazalos operated much more rapidly before the Sin, between the time the Mazalos were created on the 4th day, and the time Adam was created, on the 6th day, the Mazalos had already run their course from Nisan to Tishri.

    The mistake in their system is that they are not measuring the amount of time itself that occurred. They are identifying various events that already happened and are saying:

    1) We measured the amount of time it would take this event to occur

    2) And this event has already occurred

    3) Therefore, the amount of time it would take to make it occur has already elapsed.

    The flaw on that logic is that they only measured how much time it would take if those events would happen NOW, in the post-chet world. But since those events took place before the Chet, they took much less time, and so the occurrence of those events does not indicate the elapse of nearly as much time as the scientists think.

    If they would find a way to measure time itself, meaning the amount of moments that transpired during the course of history, they would come up with 6,000 years.

  • #660642

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Joseph, regarding besulim, why does having the status of a besulah require a physical miracle? Why can’t it just be that we give her the status of a besulah, irrespective of what the actual physical metzius is. I have heard similar by a leap year. If a girl’s birthday is in adar and that year is a leap year, the physical changes take place a month later. However, there, too, why not just say that halachically we recognize any activity before that age to be insignificant as far as her later status as a besulah? Please explain the need to invoke any physical issues here. Are they measurable or detectable in any way? In any child, would any expert (religious or secular) be able to tell the difference between a 2.99 yr old and a 3.01 yr old?

    Second, as far as other cases of where the Torah stated physical facts which you have claimed are always scientifically accurate, doesn’t the Rambam concede that treifos do live past 12 months, but we still must keep them as treifos, since that is the assumption upon which the halacha is based, and once set, the halacha cannot be changed here?

    Another example is that I believe that the gemara says that a premature fetus can survive if born during the 7th month, but not during the 8th month. (This is of course quite puzzling, anyway, since simple logic would dictate that the longer the fetus is carried, the better it will develop.) My question is, is it accepted nowadays that 8th month preemies cannot survive? Is this true? (I don’t remember if this principle is used by animals, humans, or both, but am pretty sure it is in the gemara.)

  • #660643

    Bemused
    Participant

    “simple logic would dictate”

    Perhaps it is exactly that. Our SIMPLE “logic” versus the greatness of our Creator and all that He wills to happen.

    YWN used to be a place where the “Yeshiva World” felt comfortable in a milieu that placed Chazal and their interpretation of Torah far above our puny intelligence. We have a slew of sites all over the internet wherein posters feel such matters are subject to debate. YWN, stay above this temptation.

    You are so much better. Please remain that way.

  • #660644

    Joseph
    Member

    Pashuteh Yid: Nishtanu Hativ’im.

    How to – and how not to – learn Science

    Chazal’s understanding of nature was vastly superior to that of the scientists. While the scientists get their understanding of nature through observation, and thus only know the surface-level facts, Chazal got their knowledge form the Torah, which describes nature in its deepest, most realistic level. All of reality, in fact, is just a reflection of the Torah. Knowing about nature from science is like knowing about an object through its reflection, whereas knowing nature from Torah is knowing something by knowledge of its every facet.

    When we learn science, we need to learn it with that foundation already understood. When we learn science we need to understand that it is only a secondary source of knowledge of nature — that Torah is first. If you obtain knowledge of nature after you already have a strong Emunah in supernature, your knowledge of science can fall into proper perspective.

    The Alshich, quoted in the Siach Yiztchok in the Sidur HaGra in Ashrei, writes that the proper way to learn science is after you have learned the Torah principles of science, and have instilled Emunah into your heart. First learn abotu miracles, then learn about science. After a person has acquired a proper background of Emunah and understanding of the true nature of physicality, that is, it is all Hashem’s doing, it;s all a miracle, then, against that background, learn whatever science you wil learn. The knowledge of Hashem is necessary to properly digest and get into properly use the knowledge of science.

    Torah is to the natural world what a bluprint is to its edifice, or what DNA is to an organism. Histakel B’Oraysa Ubara Alma – Hashem looked inot the Torah, and created the world as a relfection of it. This happened because the very reason – the only reason – the world was created in the first place was as a tool to fulfill the Torah. How can you fulfill the Mitzvah of Pri Etz Hadar without an Esrog tree? How can you fulfill the Mitzvah of Kibud Av Va’em if you dont have parents? How can you make Kiddush Friday night without such things as night, or wine, or words?

    How can you fulfill the Mitzvah of Pri Etz Hadar without an Esrog tree? How can you fulfill the MItzvah of Kibud Av Va’em if you dont have parents? How can you make Kiddush Friday night without such things as night, or wine, or words?

    Those are easy examples. But Hashem does nothing without a reaosn, and creates nothing without a reason. And if Hashem created it, it has one reaosn and one reaosn only: to facilitate the fulfillment of the Torah. Because without that reason, the world whad no reason to exist.

    So everything in the world – every little detail, every little subatomic particle, every litttle spec of space dust – is here to somehow faciliatate the fulfillment of the Toah. Just as every part of a car is to faciliatate the comfortable and efficent transportation of humans from one place to another, so too every part of the world is to faciliatate the transportaiton of humans to Gan Eden by way of Kiyum HaTorah.

    But a differnece between a car and the Torah is, whereas there may have been several possible version of how to make a car, and several possible alternatives to the actual car that was created that would have facilitated juts as well the goal of transporting people form on place to another – differnet typoes of cars, trucks, planes, bicycles, etc – there was only ONE possible way to facilitate the goal of getitng people into Gan Eden, and that was by creating this particular world. No other world, not even in te slightest detail, would have done the job.

    Just as the Torah is infinitely precise in its details, so does the natural world reflect the infinite precision of the Torah. When Hashem created an Esrog, which shaken in the proper manner, would connect the shaker’s soul to Hashem Himself in the particular way that the speciifc Mitzvah of velkachtem lachem pri etz hadar does, He created the Esrog, the jointsand limbs of the person shaking it, the water and soil and sunlight and gasses that the Esrog consolidates, the mind and body of the perosn shaking the esrog, the circumstances surrounding the buying of the esrog – its value, its purchase price, the precise difficulty invovled in obtaining it, — every single factor that comprises the act of the mitzvah, its nisyonos, and its ramifications — were created with infinite precison, down to the sub atomic level in order to best produce the desired effect.

    Because the world itself – the entire universe – is desgined to be the place where, when Moshiach comes, the spiritual energey that was emitted upon the performance of the Mitzvos, combined with Hashem’s revelaiton ofHis Oneness, matures into the spiritual environment Olam Habah, which is en enternal conneciton betwen the Mitzvah-doers and Hashem Himself, the entire world, every molecule and sub atomic element it consists of, every single segment of time and space itself, every sub-sub-sub atomic component of every single square micro-inch of the entire universe, was created in a way that it will fulfill its spiritual purpose – of ultimately connecting humans to Hashem through its being used bu humans to be turned into a connection between the human body-and-soul, and Hashem.

    That was the only single solitary idea that Hashem had in mind when creaitng the world. That was the only single solitary reason the world was made. And just as Hashem is one, and the Torah is one, and could not e any other way, the world, in order to fulfill its purpose as becoming the connection to Hashem was created in the only way it could have been, using the Torah as its blurprint, as its DNA. ANd that mean not only the physical shell of the world, but every single nuance of every single sub-atomic detail of the world, was created using the Torah as its bluepirnt. The Torah and nothing else is what the world reflects, on an infinitely sublime level.

    This is why the Rambam states (Yesodei Hatorah 2:2) that the natural world contains “wisdom that has no measure and no end”. Because juts as the Torah has infinite wosdom, so does the world, which is a reflection of it.

    The calculations and details that went into this world are bottomless. And its nature reflects the nature of the Torah itself; is details reflect the details of the Torah, in the same way that the details of the organizsm reflect the details of the DNA molecule.

    So far we know that nature and Torah relate in that the Torah actually dictates what goes on in nature – histakel b’oraisa ubarah almah – just as the blueprint of a building decides how the building will be built, the Torah, in the same sense, decided how nature works. And just as the DNA controls the structure and makeup of the organism, so too it is the Torah the controls the structure and makeup of the world. There is not a single spec of the natural universe that is not ruled and determined by the Torah. As Rabbeinu Bachyai writes in the Introduction to Chumash, all wisdom and science in existence is contained in the Torah.

    And the opposite is true as well – the Avos knew and fulfilled the entire Torah even though it had not yet been revealed by Hashem. Avorohom Avinu made and donned a pair of Tefillin. Now there are maybe 10 or so Halachos L’Moshe Misinai invovled in making a pair of Tefillin. How did Avrohom Avinu know how to make a pair of Tefillin?

    The answer is that Hashem looked inot the Torah and based on it, deciphered nature; Avrohom reperformed that process the other way: He looked inot the Tevah, the natural universe, and deciphered the principles upon which it was based, the reasons wy it was created in precisely the way it was, and, with preision accuracy, the details of that Torah which is reflected in nature. He looked, for instance, at his own body, and he deciphered from his 248 limbs and his 365 sinews, the 248 Mitzvos aseh and the 365 mitzvos lo saaseh. He deciphered the Torah by studying its reflection – the universe – the same way a skilled architect can decipher the blueprint of a building by studying the building.

    So he made a pair of Tefillin.

    Nature is created by, from, and as a reflection of Torah. Nature follows Torah law, not vice-versa. And although nature, on the surface, follows surface-level physical laws, on a deeper level, on the deepest, deepest level of science, all of nature, all of the universe, follows a system of laws that are designed to facilitate the purpose of Creation, namely, its enetual maturation, nutured by the study of Torah and performance of Mitzvos by the Jewish nation, into a spiritual entity known as Olam Habah.

    In a nutshell, those Laws of Nature are simply a reflection of the Laws of the Torah itself. When the physical universe, which is a reflection of Torah, is nurtured by the Torah-acts of the Am Segulah, it becomes a vessel for the conneciton of the souls and bodies of the Am Segulah to the Creator of the Torah.

    That is the cosmology of the world in a nutshell.

    So the natural world and the Tprah are inexorably connected. The Torah is the blueprint of the natural world, and the natural world is a reflection of the Torah. Avrohom, Avinu, or someone on his level, could look into nature and discover how to make a pair of Tefiillin; and Chazal were able to loo inot the Tora and discover things about nature. [Rabeinu bachya, Ramban].

    But there is a reason that the natural world was tied to the deepest levels of the Torah. G-d could have made a world whose blueprint was physical laws or someother system of rules. Why did Hashem chose the Torah as the blueprint of creation?

    And that is how Avrohom Avinumade a pair of Tefillin by looking into the natural world with the eyes and understanding of the Avos, and saw how the world needs Tefillin in order to fulfill its purpose, and how exactly those Tefillin need to be made. By seeing the sleeve, oyu can understand the shape pf the arm, and by seeing an arm you can understand the design of the sleeve.

    That is the relationship between Torah and the natural world.

  • #660645

    starwolf
    Member

    Joseph posted: “the entire concept of measuring the age of the world the way the scientsts do is based on the assuption that the world was not created by a Creator.”

    Sorry, Joseph–the concept of measuring the age of the world is based on a desire to understand the way the world works. There are many scientists that do not have such assumptions, a number of us are Torah-observant Jews, and we see no problems with these measurements of the world’s age–nor their conclusions. In fact, I would assume that you object to any such measurements, or anything else than blind acceptance of your postulates. If I am mistaken in this, I would be happy to listen to any measurements that you would propose, since physical, paleontolgical, and geological measurements are abjectionable to you.

    And yes, I have read your postings (numerous times) about great Rabbanim saying that the world was created in six 24-hour periods–and I have seen numerous others about other great Rabbanim who do not believe this.

  • #660646

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Joseph, your proposal that during the 6 days of creation the mazalos moved faster (allowing for more things to occur), but time continued at the same rate (six regular 24-hour periods) has a problem. The pasuk says about the heavenly bodies vhayu l’osos ulmoadim ul’yamim v’shanim. The days and years are linked to the mazalos. If they spin faster, then time moves faster (more years elapse). So you are in essence agreeing that the 6 days were longer than regular days.

    Bemused, our “simple logic” has the din of a d’oraysa. Lamah li kra, sevara hu. We with our puny minds carry as much weight as a befeirush pasuk. In addition, the “simple logic” I used is none other than a kal vachomer, which is used numerous times in shas. You see, the RBSH created the Torah, Science, and our minds. If there is a contradiction between any 2 of these, it is a valid question which deserves an answer. By your attempting to put down our minds as if they are worthless, you are insulting the borei who created them and generously gave of his wisdom to mankind.

    Kilobear, your general attitude to scientists is disturbing. Furthermore I have noticed a general pattern that you use the same cynicism towards Zionists on other threads, and on a thread about non-Jewish books you expressed the same view with regard to America the Beautiful, which I thought was a beautifully inspiring song of hakaras hatov. Why the constant negativity towards everything? In each case you accused these people of being totally self-serving, and accomplishing nothing of any value. The only people you have praise for are the Neturei Karta and their anthem. It is a shame that you deny yourself the ability to see the good in others.

    As far as scientists go, you have no idea how hard it is to identify the role of even a single component of a single enzyme. In vision alone, there must be over 25 monthly journals reporting on what people have found regarding the intricate workings of the eye, often focusing on a single molecule, with many blind people anxiously awaiting any hope of a cure. Do you really believe that all science is about comparing people to animals? You must be mislead by the media which always blows up some new controversial report to get attention while ignoring the real work which scientists slave over.

  • #660648

    Joseph
    Member

    Pashuteh Yid – Nishtanu Hativ’im.

    starwolf – The Torah provides an accurate timeframe from creation until now. Additionally, I referenced the Gemorah and Rashi who explicitly state (Chagiga 31a) that the 6 days were 24 hour time periods.

    I already clearly explained the fallacies of how “scientists” count historic time.

    Who do you claim argues on this Gemorah? Where can this claim be referenced? How does he interpert the Gemorah. Only an Amorah can argue on a Gemorah, and only a Rishon can argue on Rashi.

    Even if semi-humanoid life forms existed, it does not prove in the slightest that they were our ancestors. Perhaps they existed, as ape-like mamals, with more similarity to humans that the apes with which we are familiar. Fine. But what says they are our ancestors? Nothing at all.

    Second, there is no evidence at all that those fossils are indeed of ape-humans. They don’t even have proof that those creatures even existed. Any shred of a fossil that they find that gives them an opportunity to speculate about what kind of creature the fossil came from, they latch on to and built mountains out of molehills, and produce theories about what the creature was. This happens constantly:

    Zinjanthropus Man, a humanoid race touted as being 600,000 years old based on “fossil evidence”, was not even based on one body, or even an entire skull. They found one skull with the lower jaw missing. The skull was not found in one peice – it consisted of 400 fragments, found distributed among tons of debris, and put together at the discretion of the people who stand to gain the most by such a “discovery”. The entire episode was totally biased, and they still have zero evidence that this creature was anything but human, with, at most a perhaps slightly deformed skull.

    And how do they know how old this creature was? Because of the fossils that they found in the same strata with his fossils. And how do ythey know how old those animals were? Because of the theory of evolution which says that such animals should be that old. There is no evidence of anythign here – just theory and wishful thinking.

    Every such “discovery” has had opposing scienists who declare them to be nothing. Java and Peking Man were declared by the prominent evolutionist Weidenrech to be plain humans, nothing more and nothing less.

    E.E. Stanford, (“Man and the Living World”) declared that Nenderthal Man lives with us today. In “The Fossil Evidence for Human Evolution”. W.E. LeGros Clark declares that Neanderthal Man existed at the same time with regular human beings.

    All these types of ape-humans are nothing but apes or humans that can be seen among us today. At hte London meeitng of the Congress of Zoology it was revealed that the nuseum exhibits of Neanderthal Man walking hunched over like an ape was a regular human who had arthritis. Only 13 samples of Neanderthal Man have ever been found – ever! – every one of them incomplete, yet the evolutionists built on them an entire mythical “race” of ape-men.

    Procunsul Africanus, touted as the ancestor of “both apes and humans” was declared at that same convention to be nothign but a plain ape.

    Java Man was represented by a skull cap, a left femur, a small peice of a jaw, and 3 teeth. Nothign more. And they were found not together but about 50 feet apart, over the span of a year, among many many other bones and devris. Based on this “evidence” they created an entire era in history. Laterthey found more skulls, more bones etc. Everythgin was the same as human remains except forthe teeth, and evolutionists claim that those teeth are the teeth of a plain monkey.

    Peking Man has nothing that cannot be found in normal men. Cro-Magnon Man was, evolutionists admit “fully developed” and intelligent as any man today. He was about 6 feet tall, with a regular forehead, full chin and large brain. he is no more proof of evolution than we are.

    But do the math: Even according to the most stubborn and irraitonal evolutionists, for every single fossil of normal humans and apes that they find, they should be finding billions upon billions of in-between fossils. The steps between ape and human included tons of in-between creatures, and mutant cxreatures who were not fit for survival. Yet no such fossils have been found. Even the little that they desperately squirm to concoct is pitifully useless compared to what should exist out there. Yet fossils of regular men and apes exist in abundance – in a bundance! – and only once in a blue moon do they even clima to find an in-between fossil. And incidently, the fossils of normal men are found in the same strata as those of the “ancient” and prehistoric men. Go figure.

    The fossil record is the biggest proof against evolution. Not that proof is needed – the entire idea is a baseless hteory, the only reason they cling to it is because they have nothign better to cling to, if they dont want to admit the obvious – that the world was created by G-d.

    I would suggest, if you want this information in detail, to read Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s Sing You Righteous and Awake My Glory.

    Carbon-14 dating rests on two assumptions. (a)that the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere has always been constant, and (b) its rate of decay has always been constant.

    Neither of those assumptions has been proven or clsoe to proven. And sicne the world was created in six days, who knows how the cosmic radiation in the atmoshphere was fluctuating then.

    There is another issue that makes the carbon dating useless. WHen th e world was create, it already had an age. In other words, when Adam for instance was created, he was an adult, even though he was one day old; there were fully grown trees; the sun’s light already reached the earth; an entire world existed, full-blown and OLD. How old was the world at the moment it was created? I dont know — it doesnt say. But we do know that it didnt sdtart fomr scratch. And so lets say someone would chop down a tree 1 week after it was created and find maybe 50 rigns insude – would that prove that the tree wa 50 years old? Nope – it owuld only prove that when it was created it was created as an adult, 50 year old tree.

    So even if dating would be accurate, it still doesnt prove that the world was not created 6,000 years ago – because when it was created, it already could have been thousands of years old.

  • #660649

    starwolf
    Member

    Bemused–regarding logic–While it is indeed not a solution to every intellectual problem that we encounter, it is certainly an ability granted to us by HKB”H and should not be disregarded nor considered posul. Please remember that the entire Talmud is based on logical rules, for the purpose of interpreting laws and phrases that can be obscure. Without these rules, we are unable to interpret how the Torah applies to new situations, and determine practical Halacha. Where would we be without the logical thought of Chaza”l?

    It is not a matter of “Our SIMPLE “logic” versus the greatness of our Creator and all that He wills to happen.”– I think that the word “versus” is incorrect here. We use logic to attempt to understand the works of the Creator.

  • #660651

    onlyemes
    Member

    The recent posts boil down to this: Either God created a universe with a long history , which appears to science to be very old (and comes with stars already shining on earth, dinosaur fossils , etc…)but is in fact only 5770 years old, or He created the universe billions of years ago and our recorded history begins only 5770 years ago.

    Since I am of bona fide Jewish stock and do not require giyur in Bnei Brak, I choose to believe in the latter possibility.

    onlyemes, I can answer your question to the editor. Send me an email and I’ll be happy to explain it to you. moderator26@theyeshivaworld.com

  • #660652

    goody613
    Member

    onlyemes- the world was created 5770 years ago.

    the reason scientists believe it was created billions of years ago is b/c they don’t realize it was created at one time they think it took billions of years for everything to grow into what it is now.

  • #660653

    starwolf
    Member

    Sorry, Joseph, I do not agree that “Only an Amorah can argue on a Gemorah, and only a Rishon can argue on Rashi.” This is not a question of Halacha, and about matters like this, Chazal are not infallible. We have seen writings of Rav Avraham ben haRambam and Rav Saadia Gaon arguing against this topic–would you say that they are not Shomrei Torah?

    I have read Rav Avigdor Miller’s books, and I find him less than informed on scientific matters. He cites many sources out of context, and I must beleive that he was misinformed or mistaken. In Contrast, Have you ever read Rav Aryeh Kaplan’s books?

    Concerning your information about C-14 dating–yes, it does depend on a constant rate of decay. However, we have no evidence whatsoever that the rate of decay changes. All of our assumptions are based on evidence–whereas yours have none to back them up. And there is nothing in Torah that says that we should disregard the evidence of our eyes.

    About the fossil; record. You claim that there should be many “in-between creatures” and ones whose lines died out. There are indeed many of the latter forms found. As far as the “in-between” creatures–i.e. transitional lifeforms, there are reasons that we do not find them.

    Consider:

    The conditions for fossilization are complex. The remains of an animal or plant must find themselves on the bottom of a body of water, and get covered so they are not consumed by scavengers or decay. (The vast majority of fossils are marine organisms. We have relatively few records of land animals and even fewer of delicate land animals such as birds.) The hard parts of bodies are fossilized relatively easily, while the soft parts are not. So that creates a bias in the record. We have lots of bones and teeth, but little record of jellyfish, worms, and other fragile creatures. We estimate that the vast majority of life was soft-bodied, so the fossil record must be sparse.

    Once fossilized, the remains must survive the moving of the earth (shifting, folding, breaking, etc)which will eliminate many fossils. Then, of course, the fossil must be discovered, and we have not exactly been looking for very long. Under these circumstances, it is amazing that we have found the fossils that have, and it is not surprising to think that it is not complete.

    As far as the continuity of the fossil record–do you think that it is coincidence that fossils found at similar levels are thought to have existed at the same time? The science of paleontolgy is built on very careful examination of evidence, and each bit is incorporated into the theory of life. When contradicting evidence is found, we let the preponderance determine, or wait for that crucial third bit to settle the matter.

  • #660654

    000646
    Participant

    Joseph you should be carefull were you get the info for your posts from as your post is full of blatant misinformation

    You said,

    “Only 13 samples of Neanderthal Man have ever been found – ever! – every one of them incomplete,”

    This statement is simply false, the remains of over 400 neanderthals have been found to date.

    “But do the math: Even according to the most stubborn and irraitonal evolutionists, for every single fossil of normal humans and apes that they find, they should be finding billions upon billions of in-between fossils.”

    No they shouldnt find billions and billions of in between fossils because they have only catalouged a couple hundred million.

    “The steps between ape and human included tons of in-between creatures, and mutant cxreatures who were not fit for survival.”

    Only somone with no understanding of how evolution works would say that.

    There wouldnt be tons of mutants that are unfit for survival. Put simply the way evolution works is that creatures reproduce with mutation. Out evrey group of creatures some will have more offspring than others because they are more fit for survival( they may run faster,be a slightly less conspicious color ect.ect.) these will pass on their with genes (that contain thier mutations) to their offspring but with mutations over enough generations this will change the animal so much that it would be called a new “specie” there is no point were there would be tons of “unfit mutants”

  • #660655

    Just-a-guy
    Member

    There is a story on the “front page” of yeshivaworld about a ruling of the Poskei Hador on Shabbos elevators. According to the story, elevator engineers and technicians were consulted. I think that is significant.

  • #660656

    000646
    Participant

    Joseph,

    Also there are plenty of “transitional fossils” and anyone can see them in any good museum of natrual history. (just keep that in mind before you say things like “how come there are no transitional fossils”)

  • #660657

    000646
    Participant

    Joseph,

    Another point worth noting is that there are plenty of transitional fossils and anyone can see quite a few of them in any good museum of natrual history, so keep that in mind before you say things like “why are there no transitional fossils?”

  • #660658

    000646
    Participant

    I said,

    “No they shouldnt find billions and billions of in between fossils because they have only catalouged a couple hundred million.”

    what i meant to say was a couple hundred million fossils altogether

  • #660661

    Joseph
    Member

    There is a story on the “front page” of yeshivaworld about a ruling of the Poskei Hador on Shabbos elevators. According to the story, elevator engineers and technicians were consulted. I think that is significant.

    The Poskei Hador ZT’L also consulted the blueprint of the engineer and technician of the World, when describing its creation.

    Postscript to Pashuteh Yid: I am pleased to read that you acknowledge that evolution is sheker vekozov, and hence “modern scientific” theory could be built upon a pyramid of falsehoods.

  • #660663

    Joseph
    Member

    starwolf: Youre opinion about not having to take the days as days was rejected by all the Rishonim, as all of them who discuss this, particularly Rashi and Ramban, says a day is a day.

    Not that thats a tremendous chidush. If a day isnt a day then maybe a mountain isnt a mountain, a desert isnt a desert, Tefillin arent Tefillin, and Shabbos isnt Shabbos. The whole idea is silly.

    Rav Sadiah never said such a thing. That’s a distortion of his position. See it inside. What Rav Sadiah did say has no bearing on any of the issues we are discussing.

    Rav Sadiah did not say all methods of direct and indirect proofs are sufficent to reinterpret the Torah. And surely he did not say scientific evidence is reason. Neither Rav Saadiah or anybody eles ever said such a thing. Your senses are what you can feel and taste and touch such that it becomes impossible for it not to be so.

    Scientific evidence is not that. There is a margin of error in these things that has been proven time and time again in the past. Especially since there are other explanations, such as the “world was created old” idea that explains things just fine. Never mind that more often than not, the “proofs” start with the asusmption that the world was NOT created by a creator.

    That is a far, far, far cry from the touch-and-taste first-hand sensory intuitive proof that Rav Saadiah mentioned.

    In addition, Rav Saadiah never said that your senses are the only factor involved in assessing the acceptability of your interpretation. Rav Saadiah was a rishon, and he was talking about interpreting the Torah in an acceptable, reasonable manner, using all the yegiah and ameilus that one uses to interpret any difficult passage. He is saying that your senses can be invoked to determine correct pshat in the Torah but he did not say that satisfying your senses is the only requirement for an acceptable pshat. Rav Saadiah did not say that you can interpret the Torah – allegorically or literally – in a way that contradicts our Torah shebal peh, Mesorah, or the Halachah, for instance, just because you cannot think of a pshat that agrees with the Mesorah. So even if theoretically something in the Torah would go against our senses, we would have to interpret the Torah according to the halachic and hashkafic due process. If we are unable to think of a pshat that squares with torah shebal peh, then we simly do not know the pshat. Not a big deal. There are a lot of difficult passages in the Torah. And as Rav Chaim Brisker said: “It is better to remain with a good question than to give a bad answer.”

    Plus, if you notice, Rav Saadiah said not only that you may reinterpret a posuk if it contradicts simple logic and intuition, which is not justification for reinterpreting the Torah here, Rav Sadiah also says that license to reinterpret comes if the posuk seems to contradict rabbinic tradition.

    So avoiding an absolute logical and intuitive impossibility is one reason to reinterpret, but contradicting rabbinic tradition is another.

    So even if you have a posuk that meets Rav Sadiahs criterion of being against basic logic and sensory facts, by reinterpreting it in a way that contradicts rabbinic tradition you have not follwoed Rav Sadiah. All you have done is traded one impossibilitiy for another, which is not what Rav Saddiah is allowing.

    To fulfill Rav Sadiah, youd have to reinterpret the posuk in a way that squares with Rabbinic tradition. If you cant, then you simply must say “I dont know.”

    The requirement to believe Torah MiSinai includes of course, not only Torah shebiksav but Torah shebaal peh. That includes Midrashim. However, Agados can be interpreted not literally. Rav Saadia Gaon writes that an Agada can be interpreted as Mesholim in 4 instances: If it contradicts reality, reason, Gemara or Rabbinic tradition. The Ramchal, in Maamar HaAgadta also writes that some Agados are mesholim. (See also Radak Shmuel I end of Ch. 28). Not accpeting a Maamr Chazal is not accpetable – but to reinterpret it in a way that makes it more palatable is OK.

    Theoretically, that is. In order to interpret any Chazal – Halachah or Agada – you need to benefit of Rabbinic tradition throughout the ages. If the Rishonim considered an Agada literal, you would be fooling yourself by saying that it is not. They surely had the same measure of common sense as we do, and so if they were not bothered by the credulity of a specific statement of Chazal, we should not be, either.

    Another thing: There are people who refuse to accept what seems to them incredulity even in Pesukim of the torah and they therefore interpret them allegorically. That is Apikorsus for sure. And to say that well, I will trust the Torah and the prophets but not Chazal makes no sense. Chazal didnt make up stories. But rather the Agada was said, sometimes, as a Moshol. But to know when it is a Moshol and when it is literal is as difficult as properly interpreting any Torah passage. And here, too, the same logic that tells you the literal meaning of the CHazal is hard ot accept also tells you in even stronger tones, that we are nothing but foolish to reject the opinions of our Rishonim, who understood both reality and Chazal much better than we do.

    I have a better idea, then, for such cases, when you come acorss such a Chazal. Invoke Rav CHaim Brisker’s dictums: “Fun a kasha shtarbt mir nisht”. You wont die from a [an unanswered] question. And “S’iz besser to beiben by a kasha vi tzu zogen a krumer teretz” – “Its better to remain with a quesiton than to have the wrong answer.”

    So say simply, “I dont understand this Chazal.” You dont have to interpret it any way at all. Maybe one day youll see something in a sefer or someone will explain it. In the meantime, there is no need to jump to conclusions that our predecesors did not reach.

    BTW in a kuntres put out on Birkas Hachamah entitled ‘Tizrach Hashemesh’, a medrash that says ‘lo nivroh leho’ir elah galgal hachamoh bilvad – the Zohar in Parshas Veyakhel (reish-tes-vav) ‘delais nehorah leseharoh elah nehora di’shimshoh’ – this fits exactly with what was discovered about the moon, that it has no light of its own, and that it receives light from the sun – it only looks like it’s shining by itself. chalk this one up to the list of things chazal would have had no way of knowing without the torah being from hashem.

    (reposted from elsewhere)

  • #660665

    Joseph
    Member

    646, Much of what the Greeks got right, they got from us. This is as clear as day. See what Rav Chaim Kanievsky points out in Kiryas Melech (Yesodei Hatorah 3:1).

    Here’s how this works: The Rishonim will quote something from the Greek philosophers but which really comes from Kabbalah. They do this because when citing Kabalistic ideas, they often try to conceal them as much as possible. Therefore, if something is well known as a Greek philosophical concept, they will quote it as such even though its source is Judaism. Example: The Ramban’s hyly (hiuli?) at the beginning of Bereishis, which he notes and sources as Greek. Both the Satmar Rebbe (Divrei Yoel Bereishis p.61) and Rav Elya Lopian (quoted by Rav Scwardron) say the hyly is a Kabbalistic, spiritual idea, which the Greeks took from us. The Divrei Yoel explains that the Ramban quoted this in the name of the Greeks because it is the derech of the Ramban to camouphlage such sodos in physical terms – the same as Chazal often did. (see also Rama Toras HaOlah on Boruch Sheamar). Another one of these concepts is the 4 elements (fire, waster, air, and earth), which is quoted all over by the Greeks but comes from Kabbalah – they took it from us.

    The idea that the Greeks took their philosophical ideas from us is all over the Rishonim and Achronim, including the Ramban himself (Toras Hashem Temimah p.162). He says that they lifted their knowledge from the Jews, and eventually it got distorted by them. But the source is Judaism. The Kuzari says the same thing (2:66 – see also 2:19 and 1:62) as does the Shevili Emunah (nesiv 8) the Rama (he brings that Socrates got his wisdom from Asaf and Achitofel (Toras Haolah 1:12), and Chosid Yaavetz (Ohr Hachaim 6). The Chida (Midbar Kadmos – Sheva Chachmos) says this in the name of the Rambam (se alos Moreh Nevuchim 1:71).

    Basically what happened was, people like Shlomo HaMelech and the Neviim had this chachma, the Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle learned from them, we went into Golus and a lot of it got lost, while among the Greeks it got grotesquely distorted. So youll find Torah and Kabbalistic concepts among the Goyim but kind of in a messed up way. Sometimes Rishonim such as the Ramban will identify some crumb of truth among them that comes from us and he will quote it from them if it is known as such.

    Regarding Ptolmey himself, the Abarbanel (Shmos 12) quotes Ptolmey as being so impressed with the Jews’ astronomical calculations, that he said it proves the Jews had prophecy. In the Sefer Eretz Zvi (by Rav Aryeh Zvi Fromer ZTL, Rosh Yeshiva in Chachmei Lublin), quotes more such sources about Ptolmey.

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