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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Rav Elyashiv, Torah and Science

It is very troubling that there are those who say insist that it is forbidden to believe that Chazal were mistaken in matters of science. There are just too many instances of nature quoted in the Gemarah that contradict what we know today.
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv hosting President Shimon Peres.

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv hosting President Shimon Peres.
Photo Credit: osef Avi Yair Engel/GPO/FLASH90

It therefore is very troubling that there are those who say insist that it is forbidden to believe that Chazal were mistaken in matters of science. There are just too many instances of nature quoted in the Gemarah that contradict what we know today. That lice produce asexually is just one error.

Avraham Ben HaRambam must have concluded that Chazal were mistaken for similar reasons. But it isn’t only him. It appears that even R’ Elyashiv may have conceded this point. And yet it is said in his name that it is forbidden to believe it.

In my view it is a gross error to say that it is heresy to say that Chazal were mistaken in science. Not that one must have this view. But to say it is forbidden to believe it is a huge mistake.

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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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3 Responses to “Rav Elyashiv, Torah and Science”

  1. IdentifyUS says:

    Although a microscope will certainly help to view them, one need not use such a device to see lice or to witness them mating. What is a microscope, but a set of lenses? Such a device – or even a pair of reading glasses for that matter – doesn't change the object being viewed, but changes our ability to view it. Do the lice really care whether or not we can see them (with or without a microscope)? They'll just go on mating (sexually), regardless of what people may proclaim.

  2. Anonymous says:

    the question is why there is a differ. betw. the s.- and the a-s.- reprod. and you may also understand that the caracterization of the "s" and "a-s" reproduction was not meant physically but otherwise, maybe in a sense of mentally or some kind spiritually (i refer to the description of spirit-soul and body of zohar)…

  3. So, if you are walking to shul, and wolf attacks you, aren't you permitted to kill it, even though they reproduce sexually?

    Lice, like wolves are predators. They cannot kill you with their teeth, but they transmit diseases that can kill you. Why is their mode of reproduction relevant to killing them on shabbat?

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