Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sha'ar Be'er Sheva

The most controversial chapter of Kol HaTor is chapter 5, part 2: Sha'ar Be'er Sheva. It was controversial enough that it was left out (i.e. censored) of the edition printed in HaTekufah HaGedolah. Rav Kasher felt that Kol HaTor was revolutionary enough as is, so he left it out (I'm not sure if he had kavanah to publish it at a later time or not).

The idea is based on our relationship as Jews to the natural sciences, particularly the Seven Wisdoms (translation to be added later).

  1. חכמת החשבון התכונה והמדידה
  2. חכמת היציריה וההרכבה
  3. חכמת הרפואה והצמיחה
  4. חכמת ההגיון הדקדוק והמשפט
  5. חכמת הנגינה והקדושה
  6. חכמת התיקון והשילוב
  7. חכמת הביגו"ר (בין גשם ורוח) וכחות הנפש

As was written by the GR"A's students outside of Kol HaTor, the GR"A had completely mastered all of the Seven Wisdoms, save medicine; the GR"A's father commanded him not to learn beyond the base principles, lest he have to spend all his time saving lives. Different works about the GR"A mention how he was able to solve scientific problems of his day with great swiftness in a way that impressed greatly those who inquired of him.

One of the statements attributed to the GR"A there is that whatever one lacks in understanding in the Seven Wisdoms, one will lack one hundred-fold in Torah understanding.

But the plan, so to speak, is a bit more involved. The goal is Kiddush Hashem.

Kiddush Hashem will occur when the nations of the world realize the wisdom lies with Am Yisrael as guardians of the Torah. The problem is a paradox:

  • The nations of the world can read the Torah, they don't need us for that, so that doesn't make us special in their eyes by itself.
  • We can't teach them the wisdom contained in the Oral Torah, specifically Kabbalah.

The solution starts from an assertion: Kabbalah and Science are intertwined.

What we need, as per Kol HaTor, is Talmidei Chachamim who know Kabbalah to the extent that they are able to achieve great scientific advances based on the unique perspective on the universe that they will have from knowledged of Torah on all levels. It is a give and take relationship: Torah knowledge leads to scientific knowledge and vice versa. Then, when the nations of the world see that our wisdom in physical reality comes from our wisdom in the spiritual realm, they will see that this is a wise and understanding nation.

While what is written in Kol HaTor is mainly an action plan for Talmidei Chachamim who were Mekubalim (and thus it was in a special Beit Midrash for the sciences in the Old Yishuv), it still has halachah l'maaseh for the rest of us in regards to our approach to the modern day Science vs. Torah debates, as if it were one against the other.

This is the GR"A's approach to the desired state of affairs following the year 5600.

Zohar part 1, page 116B:

And in the 600th year of the 6th millenium, the gates of upper wisdom will open, as well as the springs of lower wisdom, and the world will be repaired ahead of the 7th millenium.

The siman for this is from the verse in Breishit 7:11:

In the 600th year of Noach's life, in the second month, on the 17th of the month, on this day, the founds of the great deep broke up, and the windows of heaven opened.

Let us notice that there should be no contradiction between these "waters" in our time. May this harmony soon be evident to all and may Hashem's Name be sanctified in the eyes of all.

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