Sunday, June 18, 2006

Truth and Torah

A commenter recently suggested that posing a question to the Torah based on science is insulting to the Torah (a bizyon ha-Torah). That is a legitimate view, but one that I find hard to accept. Consider the following story about R. Ya'akov Kamenetsky, told by his son-in-law R. Yisrael Shurin (Emes Le-Ya'akov al Ha-Torah, introduction):

One of the top students in the Slabodka Yeshiva (who later became a famous rosh yeshiva in America) had a student who was very knowledgeable in general studies. This student once asked a question on a Tosafos from the map. This was on the topic (sugya) in Gittin about a narrow strip that protrudes from Akko. The learned student, whose ear was pained by this question, immediately stopped teaching this student. He complained to R. Ya'akov: "How can one learn with someone who asks questions from the map?" R. Ya'akov answered him: "The map must be consistent with the topic. If the topic does not correlate with the map then this a serious question and we must answer it." R. Ya'akov sat and toiled until he answered all of the questions. This is the power of the truth.
If, and this is a big if, the science in question is true, then of course Torah must correspond to it. Truth is truth, regardless of whether it comes from scientists or sages.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More