‘Ultimately, Scientists Always Realize The Torah Is Correct’: An Interview with Rabbi Moshe MeiselmanWednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Rabbi Moshe Meiselman is rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Jerusalem (which is marking its 29th anniversary with a tribute dinner on Sunday, December 11, at Ateres Avrohom Hall in Brooklyn). A nephew of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, Rabbi Meiselman learned Torah on a daily basis with his uncle for more than a decade. Rabbi Meiselman has just finished writing a book (as yet untitled) on Torah and science due to be published in the next few months.
The Jewish Press: What is your new book about and why do you feel it is relevant?
Rabbi Meiselman: A few years ago there was an explosion in the Orthodox world regarding Torah and science, with many people writing a lot of material and creating a lot of confusion. In many cases the authors lacked the necessary training in Torah, science, and machshavah required to properly address this topic. As a result the Torah was misrepresented and distorted.
I had spent many years thinking about this subject, and debated whether I should involve myself in the matter. When my name was mentioned in some recent literature against my will, I decided to sit down and organize my thoughts, and over time a book emerged.
There are new books and articles continuously being written on this topic. I therefore felt I would present what I consider to be the point of view of the Torah. Based on a tremendous amount of sources from Chazal, Rishonim, and Achronim, I show what the classic and constant approach of the Torah has been toward this topic.
According to our mesorah the Torah we have was given by Hashem on Har Sinai and does not contain mistakes. Everything the Torah describes is absolutely true. To suggest that Chazal are full of mistakes has the potential to undermine the authenticity of our mesorah. I felt motivated to show that Chazal are not full of mistakes and that the Torah, our mesorah, is completely true.
How does this book differ from other books on the topic?
I believe this book differs from others on this topic because I possess a unique background that enables me to bring to bear a tremendous amount of Torah knowledge coupled with very broad scientific knowledge and machshavah. I did not feel other books on this topic combined all three of these necessary components in a complete manner.
You were a talmid of your uncle Rav Soloveitchik. What was your relationship with him like? And did you ever discuss the topic of this book with him?
I learned very intensely with my uncle one on one for twelve years. I discussed all aspects of life with him including many of these topics. I quote him in this book, and where I do it is with an exact quote. Many other areas of the book are based on things he said. His heavy influence is felt throughout the book, even when he is not quoted.
Were you close with any other prominent rabbanim?
I lived in Los Angeles from 1977-1982 where I had a major responsibility for much of the psak halacha of the city. In that role I became very close with Reb Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and I was continually in touch with him. When I moved to Eretz Yisrael I asked Reb Moshe who my new “address” should be and he said I should go to Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Subsequently, I became a ben bayis there, and discussed psak halacha along with many other issues with him. When I founded Yeshivas Toras Moshe it was done in accordance with his psakim. I believe that my personal closeness to him and to his family played an important role in my daughter marrying his grandson.