Friday, June 10, 2011

Maharal:G-d's tears & science - earthquakes & G-d's influence on nature

Berachos(59a): As R’ Kattina passed the gates of the magician Oba Timei an earthquake occurred. He said: Does Oba Timei know what the reason for earthquakes? The magician replied: Of course I know. When G‑d thinks about His children who are sunk in suffering amongst the nations of the world, He sheds two tears into the ocean and the earthquake is the resulting sound that reverberates from one end of the world to the other. R’ Kattina replied:” The magician is a liar and his words are wrong because according to his explanation the earthquake should be followed by the aftershock of the second tear!” In fact however earthquakes are followed by an aftershock and the reason why R’ Kattina did not acknowledge the correctness of the explanation was so that people should not pay attention to the magician. R’ Kattina explained earthquakes resulting from G‑d clapping His hands together out of anger. R’ Nathan explained them as resulting from G‑d sighing from sadness. The Rabbis said that it is G‑d walking on the Heavens. R’ Acha b. Yaakov said: It results from G‑d pressing His feet together beneath His throne. …

Maharal (Be’er HaGolah #4): Berachos (59a): As R' Kattina passed the gates of the magician Oba Timei an earthquake occurred. … To properly understand this gemora you must be aware that our sages were not primarily concerned with a scientific description of the physical world. Even though it is obvious that there is a physical basis of earthquakes, our sages focused not on the laws of nature but rather G d's influence on the physical mechanism…G d in fact controls everything but works through the processes of nature…. This is an extremely fundamental principle on which is built the principle of faith… In contrast, the scientists when they investigate physical phenomenon such as earthquakes, thunder etc., assume that nature is all there is. They look at proximate causal relations and ignore the ultimate cause—the Creator of nature. However, our Sages …learned from Moshe Rabbeinu that the view of the scientists was incomplete. … Therefore, our Sages knew that these things are produced by natural processes, however G d is the initiator of all natural phenomena and thus nature is merely a messenger for G d. It is important to know that wherever the Sages use this type of language, they don't intended to actually describe G d, Heaven forbid! The description is simply a form that is comprehensible to the human mind. Thus, they are describing things from the point of view of the audience. This is an incredibly important principle which manifests itself in esoteric medrashim….

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