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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
PC Kollel
1 Babbin Court
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: 914-425-3565
Fax: 914-425-4296

Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © '97 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



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