Israel & the Jew

Rabbi Israel Chait

Transcribed by a student 

כֹּ֣חַ מַ֭עֲשָׂיו הִגִּ֣יד לְעַמּ֑וֹ לָתֵ֥ת לָ֝הֶ֗ם נַחֲלַ֥ת גּוֹיִֽם

(Psalms 111:6)

We inherited Israel that we might share with mankind knowledge of creation, Maaseh Beraishis. [This is the meaning of this verse above: God revealed to His people His principles in creation, giving the Jews a land of inheritance from the nations, that we might teach mankind about God’s creation]. Without this explanation there is no justification why the Jew is entitled to Israel. Secular Zionism is unthinkable.

Knowledge of creation is the highest level of perfection; no Torah authority argues. We were heirs to it. This lost knowledge embodied principles of physics; we had our own science of creation. It embodied knowledge of the universe in a certain way, where a person with this knowledge would know both ethics and physics. Studying the natural world alone cannot teach man ethics. At the end of his Guide, Maimonides cites Jeremiah 9:22,23:

Thus said the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom. Let not the strong man glory in his strength. Let not the rich man glory in his riches. But only in this should one glory: become wise and know Me, for I the LORD act with kindness, justice, and charity in the world, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.

God desires man to act with ethics [which comprised part of the knowledge of creation we lost]. Chazal allude to this in the midrash about God shrinking the moon’s size.

Our understanding of God and the universe is completely different from the [other] religions. Science says that religions are in a “retreating” position [religions cannot answer scientific questions and avoid the question]. All other religions are actual idolatry or follow the path of thinking of idolatry, derech avoda zara. Other religions seek miracles and wishful fantasies. Their idea of God is distorted; a wishful thing. They wish God would come down from heaven and do whatever they want. But no such God exists.

But according to Judaism, we would never be satisfied by praying to something we don't understand. In our morning prayers we say the words, “How great are Your works God; all of them You performed with wisdom; מָה־רַבּ֬וּ מַעֲשֶׂ֨יךָ  יְֽהֹוָ֗ה כֻּ֭לָּם בְּחׇכְמָ֣ה עָשִׂ֑יתָ” (Psalms 104:24). Religionists are happy with a God that satisfies their wishes. According to us, however, if a scientist could not explain something, we would not be happy to say, “That’s just God’s will,” as our prayer above says that God performs everything with wisdom. While it is true that nothing exists without the Creator, without wisdom, we are not satisfied. The difference between scientists and us is the nature of the wisdom that we seek. Scientists believe all can be explained through studying the universe [alone] without recourse to an external Designer [prophetic knowledge]. But we say that is not so and that ultimately all wisdom reflects wisdom of God which is external to the [observer or the observed].

Our religion is diametrically opposed to the position scientists impute to other religions [cultures retreating from wisdom].

Through God's will we were given the ability to share the idea of creation. Idol worshipers will never combine their idea of God with the Creator of the universe, as they seek fantasy and illusion, while the universe is natural law which contradicts the idolater. But to us, both Judaism and science embody wisdom. Scientific investigation is not contrary to our idea of God. Rather, our idea of God propels us further and deeper in that direction.