Jewish Press There is one area of agreement, though, between sophisticated scientists and Torah scholars: attempts to make “peace” between the two sides. As methodologies of both science and halacha demand precision in the formulation and application of their respective principles, Rabbi Meiselman writes that “Consequently, both scientists and Torah scholars bristle when amateurs make assertions about their areas of expertise based on superficial contact with the sources.” It is for this reason that Rabbi Meiselman, rosh yeshiva of the Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Jerusalem, has authored the book, Torah, Chazal & Science
Rabbi Meiselman is uniquely qualified to address the delicate topic of Torah and science. He was trained by outstanding academicians in a variety of disciplines – mathematics, philosophy and several of the natural sciences. Most importantly, however, he had unlimited access to his uncle and rebbe, Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, zt”l, who guided him in attaining a profound, thorough and Torah-true perspective on this topic. When reading this book, one will immediately notice the unique combination of vast Torah knowledge and extensive understanding of science from a sophisticated point of view. Those elements are brought to bear in this book.
One of the crucial aspects of the Jewish people’s belief, Rabbi Meiselman contends, is that the Torah was given by Hashem on Har Sinai and does not contain mistakes. The Torah is not a “primitive document,” and everything the Torah describes is absolutely truthful. Additionally, in this view, our mesorah of Torah She’be’al Peh is completely accurate. Therefore, to suggest that Chazal are full of mistakes has the potential to undermine our mesorah’s authenticity.
This new literature has disturbed many, who see it as radical. Conversely, many others oblivious to its danger warmly embraced its new ideas. Those concerned that this new thinking is dangerous have voiced their worries, while numerous others seem content with its unique approach. Torah, Chazal & Science was written for the benefit of both camps. Rabbi Meiselman satisfies both those who have been eagerly awaiting a proper response to the non-traditionalists as well as those unaware of the need for a response. Both can be satisfied with the sophisticated level of scientific expertise, coupled with a proficiency in Torah, which is apparent in this work. Thus, this book has the potential to unite Klal Yisrael pertaining to these issues.
Rabbi Meiselman begins Torah, Chazal & Science by explaining why it is that Chazal’s knowledge is superior to that of scientists – past, present and future. This is so because Chazal’s knowledge comes from the Torah. As Rabbi Meiselman writes: “The physical world is a manifestation of a completely separate underlying spiritual-metaphysical reality.” Everything occurring in our world, Rabbi Meiselman notes, is a reflection of realities and relationships existing there.This reality is not subject to change; accordingly all insights and conclusions derived from it are likewise immutable. Consequently, one who understands the spiritual world will also understand the resultant material world. [...]
Among the book’s goals is to demonstrate that there is no support in the classic sources for the approach that has recently surfaced, and to explain how it represents a deviation from the perspective that has been passed down throughout the centuries. In the book, Rabbi Meiselman examines many examples of how the chachmei hamesorah dealt with conflicts between Chazal and certain observable facts. His conclusion: Neither the integrity of the mesorah nor Chazal’s reliability was ever in question. One will come to the realization that Chazal’s mesorah and their definitive teachings represent absolute truth – even with respect to science.[...]