Sunday, October 2, 2022

Torah vs science

 Rabbeinu Bachya (Bamidbar 33:1) ראשית חכמה קנה חכמה ובכל קניניך קנה בינה, “The beginning of wisdom is: ‘acquire wisdom!’ With all your acquisitions acquire insight.” (Proverbs 4,7) In this verse Solomon taught the people that the first kind of wisdom they are to acquire is the wisdom dispensed by the Torah. This is the meaning of ראשית חכמה in the verse we quoted. Once a person has acquired this wisdom he also needs to acquire insight, discernment, in order for him to understand the connection between different phenomena. Wisdom is always totally incomplete unless accompanied by a measure of such ability to discern relationships. Seeing that the attribute (or emanation) בינה insight, discernment, is so crucial, Solomon advises a person to spend his entire fortune in his search to acquire בינה. The words: “with all your acquisitions acquire insight,” mean that “even if you have to spend all your money in order to acquire this attribute, do so, for true wealth is בינה, not money.” Wisdom is also portrayed as shouting (to its owner) (Proverbs 8,18) “riches and honor belong to me, enduring wealth and success.Solomon was forced to inform us here that the first and foremost requirement for his נפש, personality, is the acquisition of Torah knowledge before learning any other disciplines. If he were to acquire other kinds of knowledge first, these are apt to turn his heart away from true wisdom and implant in his mind worthless ideas. However, if a person studies Torah first and makes it the mainstay of his outlook in life he is then permitted to study other disciplines, sciences, etc., seeing that if he has built a sound base of Torah knowledge for himself he is not liable to be corrupted by the philosophically negative elements which are part of other disciplines. Torah knowledge will always remain “floating” on top just as does purified silver..... All other wisdom contains elements comparable to dross, impurities, which have a tendency to invalidate that wisdom. Our Torah, by contrast, will not lead man to sustain losses either in money or through misleading him philosophically.

When Solomon demands that Torah must be the first subject studied, he means that unless one learns about the meaning and purpose of miracles one may fall victim to the theory that nature preceded the Lawgiver chronologically, that the universe was not created by Hashem. The reason that in Hebrew nature is known as טבע is that if one delves into the study of nature before having studied Torah such study is liable to swallow a person, he will “sink into a morass,” just as people who are drowned by the sea, טובעו, were drowned, because they had not learned to swim first A person who has studied Torah and early Jewish history summarized in the Torah knows that in addition to “nature” and natural laws, the Creator Who is totally free has demonstrated on many occasions that He is the master of what we call “laws of nature” by temporarily suspending these so-called eternal laws and thus demonstrating that it must have been He who had created and formulated them in the first place. Scientists, i.e. people who study nature, believe only the evidence of their eyes. When they read about the miracles which the Torah records they assume that the desert through which the Israelites marched must have been a very benign strip of land, capable of producing crops, etc., etc. They totally deny what the Torah describes as “this great and terrible wilderness inhabited by fierce serpents, etc., etc., through which the Lord your G’d has led you” (Deut. 8,15). The point made by the Torah is precisely hat the deserts through which the Israelites marched was even more hostile to human habitat than regular deserts. This is why the Torah stresses beyond doubt “it was not a place where one could sow or expect to plant fruit-bearing trees such as figs, pomegranates, etc.” There were no wells. 

1 comment :

  1. "Our Torah, by contrast, will not lead man to sustain losses either
    in money or through misleading him philosophically."

    So Our Torah is different from that disseminated in places like gateshead , where the influence of thinkers such as Rav Dessler.


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