Parshas Pinchus 5757 - '97
Outline # 44
by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Correction: Torah and Science
Last week, I wrote in the name of Rav Yitzchak Hutner that science and
Torah have a common basis. Aaron Goldman showed that my words would lead
to some absurd conclusions. Although I will explain my intention, a quick
check of sources showed that I had indeed misquoted the Pachad Yitzchak.
The source intended was Chanukah, 6 part 2. It states there that the ten
expressions of creation initiated the wisdom which would become the basis
of the Greek Knowledge, just as the Ten Commandments intiated the full study
of Torah. Both are referred to as "Gilui Ratzon" -- revealing Hashem's Will.
However, they are not both referred to as Torah; only the teaching which
stems from Mount Sinai has the distinction of being called "Torah." Quite
the contrary -- secular studies are called "Chochmah Chitzonis" -- external
wisdom! As the Talmud states: "If anyone says there is wisdom among the nations
-- believe them! If anyone says there is Torah among the nations -- do not
believe them!" Thanks for raising the issue; I apologize for any misunderstanding
which I might have caused.
Words Contain Energy
According to Rashi, Moshe was supposed to "talk" to the stone, rather
than strike it, in order to produce water from the rock. Rashi also says,
in Parshas Shmos, that Moshe killed the Egyptian by pronouncing G-d's name.
How can words alone accomplish these things? The modern mind recoils at such
thinking. Yet -- we should ask -- how did the ancient minds accept it? The
Torah forbids sorcery! It was for this reason that I brought up modern science.
If, by speaking to the computer, I can cause it to produce a reaction, my
speech obviously contains energy, which can be converted by a physical computer
into physical reactions. This is a down-to-earth illustration of the possibility
of tapping the power of human speech.
Speech is nothing but essential communication. Modern science has begun
to recognize the basis of communication in the universe. Einstein was disturbed
by what he called "spooky events at a distance" where remote objects knew
exactly how to react to each other. Today, one of the major new sciences,
"complexity theory," focuses on these "spooky events." The uniformity of
laws of science throughout the known universe necessitates the communication
of scientific principles. Just as the DNA communicates the life-code from
one organism to another, there seems to be other mechanisms which communicate
rules of uniformity.
What does this have to do with Torah? At creation, Hashem
"spoke." Einstein's "spooky events at a distance," DNA and complexity theory,
were all covered by Hashem's "speech." Rav Hutner told us that the ten
expressions of creation became the basis of the Greek Sciences, and, eventually,
modern science. This is all discussed in the Torah. Now, the Torah does not
use scientific language, but we are of the opinion that the Torah is completely
consistent with all human knowledge. For further elucidation, see the excellent
books "Genesis and the Big Bang" (Bantam), "Finger on the Universe" (Shaar
Press), "In the Beginning -- Biblical Creation and Science" (Ktav).
Moshe's speech -- the Torah -- contains within it the essence of all
knowledge. Isn't this the lesson taught by the story of Moshe outwitting
the wise men of Egypt, or the descriptions of Yoseif and Daniel being advisors
to the Kings? In modern times, the Abarvanel advised the leaders of Spain
and Portugal; the Chazon Ish advised brain surgeons... This must not be
misconstrued to equate Torah and worldly knowledge, however. The Torah is
vastly superior to human knowledge, which only guesses and theorizes. Torah
is the internal, supernal knowledge, as contrasted with "Chochmah
Chitzonis" -- external wisdom.
The only reason for this discussion is for us to see that it is not at
all foolish to think that Moshe could change the rock by his speech. In the
past, we have discussed how the successful corporate executive, general,
or coach motivate and dominate not by brute force, but by powerful speech;
how the Madman of World War Two would execute millions with a single word
or facial expression. All of man's endeavor would be worthless without his
ability to communicate. He who masters the art of communication becomes powerful.
Beyond communication, though, we need the substance to communicate. Torah
is not merely manipulative words, but provides knowledge of man's soul in
relation to G-d and the universe. By communicating the role of man, Torah
gives us the means to achieve inner peace and outward harmony. The Madman
and Bilam (Balak's seer) were also men of words, but their words broadcast
death. Bill Gates controls communication, but his words are empty.
Moshe's speech contains life. Moshe's words give us the means to physical
health and spiritual well-being, the blueprint for a balanced society and
a stable world-order. And, in spite of the most formidible Madmen, Kings
and Seers, Moshe and his people still exist. Our continued survival testifies
that Moshe's words can, and shall, direct the hard rock -- the hearts of
the people. If only Moshe's people not forget -- it is the words, not the
brute force of the stick. Pinchus, who used the sword, can prevail because
he is the Kohein -- the master of the service. His sword is preceded by his
prayer. So Dovid, the sweet singer, was the epitome of the Jewish warrior.
The greatest soldiers of all time were the Maccabees, who smote the Syrian-Greek
army, the remnant of Alexander's legions. They, too, were Kohanim; their
symbol was the menorah.
In the Book of Zecharia, the prophet perceives a menorah with two olive
branches. He asks an angel what the vision means. " 'Not by might nor by
strength, but by My spirit,' says the Lord of Hosts." (Zech. 4:1-6) Rabbi
Elie Munk explained this dream: The menorah represents the victory of the
light of the spirit over the physical forces.
Chodshei Hashanah Part Twenty Nine
The three weeks -- the period of mourning for the destruction of the
Bais Hamikdash -- begin with the 17th of Tammuz, which occurred this week.
One of the events commemorated on the 17th of Tammuz, is the cessation of
the Korbon Tamid -- the daily sacrifice. Interestingly, Parshas Pinchus occurs
at the same time, which discusses the mitzvah of the Korbon Tamid.
The prophets continually reminded the people that the sacrifices were
meaningless without the feelings of giving, of self-sacrifice. When the
sacrifices became empty of meaning, they were taken away. Instead, prayer
takes the place of the sacrifice. When putting the knife to the animal's
neck becomes meaningless -- we return to speech. If your speech becomes
meaningless, then what hope is there?
Let's take the opportunity to use the three weeks for a strengthened
tefilah -- prayer. This is our chance to assume the responsibility of the
daily sacrifice. The words are the sacrifices!
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
1 Babbin Court
Text Copyright © '97 Rabbi
Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis,