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January 27, 2015 / 7 Shevat, 5775
 
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‘Ultimately, Scientists Always Realize The Torah Is Correct’: An Interview with Rabbi Moshe Meiselman


Rabbi Moshe Meiselman

Rabbi Moshe Meiselman

I personally find it truly amazing when science confirms after years of experimentation that what the Torah has taught us is correct. Chazal made statements about the physical world that did not always correspond to the scientific views of a particular era – be it 2,000 years ago, 1,000 years ago or even in more recent years. But as time goes on the Torah’s view has been confirmed many times over.

In the book I go through several examples of when the Torah taught something that was contradicted by science, and eventually science proved that which the Torah taught to be correct. From experiencing this outcome in many instances we can take the following important lesson: although often throughout time people thought the Torah did not understand the physical world, in fact the Torah’s view was based on a deeper understanding of the physical world far beyond what was available at the time via experimentation. Therefore, even if things that at a given time seem to contradict what science believes to be true we should understand that the Torah’s view is of a deeper understanding of the world than what is available to science.

One example of the Torah view being challenged by earlier science, only to later be proven valid by modern science, concerns the question of whether there was a beginning to the world. The Torah says the world had a beginning. Aristotle and many other Greek philosophers said the world had no beginning. As time went on it became more accepted that the world had always existed. But by the 1960s just about everyone agreed the world had a beginning. Their understanding of that beginning still does not coincide with ours; they are, however, on the right track and eventually they will catch up. The Rashba put it beautifully when he said, “Science always changes and we always remain the same.” This is evidence that although scientists for a long period of time may believe something contradicts the Torah, ultimately scientists will realize the Torah is correct.

Does the book discuss some of the statements of the Gemara that science has challenged?

The book discusses aspects of supposed conflicts between Torah and science, many of which were addressed by Rishonim and Achronim. The book not only discusses their answers but also focuses on the approach the Rishonim and Achronim took when addressing this topic. One common thread that runs through all of them is that when confronted with a contradiction, none of them said the Torah was mistaken. They either tried to understand the Torah better or tried to understand the physical world better.

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