- Talmud vs. Science
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Reader: In a recent edition of the "The Jerusalem
Report," there was an article, entitled, "The Heretic."
It is the story of a man, named Yaron Yadan, living in Israel, who is
an ex Ultra Orthodox Yeshiva head. He is an EX orthodox Jew because of
the following reasons. Using his logic, he thought that if the
Talmud was the word of G-d, and that it was originally taught to
Moshe, and had been passed down until it was written down by Rabbi
Yehuda Hanasi and later rabbis, then the science that it talks about
would be accurate according to todays science. So for example, he took
a look at what our Sages have to say about Kashrut and family purity
laws. He also studied human, animal biology. He came to the conclusion
that the Sages understanding of animal biology was wrong and therefore
the laws of Kashrut are flawed. He reached the same conclusion when he
studied female anatomy and he now believes that the family purity laws
are flawed as well. One more example is that of fish, and he claims
that some early rabbis ate non kosher fish due to their ignorance of
maritime life. And finally, since our sages thought that the world was
flat,the times for the beginning and end of Shabbos are wrong.
- I'm very sorry that I am being so ambiguous and I'm also sorry that
I cant find this article on the internet, but this article is in the
June 17th issue of "The Jerusalem Report." I'm very sorry to
bother you but I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on this
matter. Is this man correct in the the Talmudic Sages are flawed in
their science, and therefore the Talmud could not have been from G-d?
This man, Yaron Yadan, talked to Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the famed
orthodox scientist, who agreed with Mr. Yadan, that the science of the
Talmud is wrong. So what is your position? Can the wisdom of science
and the Talmud converge?
Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my email and
- Mesora: You do not quote what
exactly Yaron Yadan thought to be Talmudic facts, nor what were his
facts derived from science through "his own logic", as you
put it. We have two unknowns, and perhaps two errors.
- Talmudic knowledge is man's own understanding, it is not from God.
Is man flawless? Of course he is not. Did the Rabbis of the Talmud
make mistakes based on limited scientific knowledge of their times?
Yes. So Talmudic knowledge when discussing certain areas in science is
limited to the Rabbi's current-day facts. The Rabbis even acquiesced
to the Greeks when they saw their correct positions. They were right
to investigate and base decisions on the best of their abilities, just
as we do today, and how the future leaders of Israel must continue.
- However, God's knowledge transmitted to us as Mosaic law differs
from man's knowledge based on science. There is no divinely passed
down book on science, as there is on Torah. We do not say the Rabbis
had a Mishna or a Biblical verse erroneously. That which stems from
what God spoke to Moses, and Moses to us, is 100% accurate. It is
God's knowledge which contains no error. "He is our rck, there
iss no flaw in Him" (Psalm 92).
- God created both the physical world which contains all laws of
science, and the Torah. Both are reflections of His consistent and
perfectly wise and rational system of knowledge. As both are rational
systems, they cannot contradict each other on even one, single point.
If we see contradictions, it is our own error. How can man have God's
knowledge? It is ridiculous, impossible, and far more foolish an
assumption than any other. To this, King Solomon referred, (Koheles,
5:1) "Don't be excited (with) your mouth, and do not hasten to
bring forth words before God, for God is heaven and you are on Earth,
therefore let your words be few".
- It seems Yaron Yadan based his understanding Jewish law on his own,
flawed reasoning, and did not perceive God's consistent and perfectly
rational ideas. Many people make the mistake that they found "the
reason" for such and such. They assume Kosher for example, exists
due to health considerations. When they find shrimp to be as healthy
as cow, they proceed to attack the Torah for making a mistake by
prohibiting shrimp. But where is their proof that Kosher is based on
health? Some people attack the Torah because they feel restriction on
the Sabbath too harsh. They don't realize that restriction is only to
set the stage for focusing exclusively on beautiful ideas, ideas
unattainable while we labor at our positions.
- I would question Yadan, "Were not King Solomon, King David,
Moses, and so many other prophets and Rabbis much closer to the truth
than us? The Torah proves God spoke with Moses. He did not speak with
you for good reason. Moses had the correct ideas, direct from God. Why
then did not all of these great individuals realize your new found
'knowledge' that the Torah is inherently wrong? All the world came to
hear Solomon's wisdom. Did they come to hear you? Solomon spoke
endlessly on the wisdom in the Torah, and the world understood him as
tremendously wise. Mr. Yaron Yadan, are they all wrong?"
- Although some, few Rabbis' statements are flawed by inaccurate facts
(dwarfed in number by accurate ones) why did Yadan abandon ALL of
Torah? People are looking for excuses to be "free" from
Mitzvos. The Jews did so in the desert, and this hasn't changed with
many Jews today. At the very least, Yadan should keep the laws which
"his own logic" say are error-free. The fact he does not,
demonstrates that he is not consistent, and we cannot side with
inconsistent 'reasoning'. Reasoning, by definition, is consistent.
- It is only he who seeks with earnest, the underlying depths of
knowledge, who will find it. "If
you dig for it like silver, and search it out like a buried treasure,
then you will understand the fear of G-d, and the knowledge of G-d
will you find" (Proverbs, 2:4-5).