The Torah Science Foundation Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 2
Tevet 5762 / January 2002
In this issue:
1. The B'Or HaTorah Torah and Science Conference
2. A Torah-Science curriculum in a religious high school
3. Website Updates
4. Financial Support
5. Short Note on: the Place of Humanities in the TSF's Model of the Arts and Sciences
1. The B'Or HaTorah Torah Science Conference.
The 4th B'Or HaTorah Torah and Science Conference was held at the Florida International University of Miami, USA, on Tevet 3-5, 5762, December 18-21, 2001. Nearly 1000 people attended the conference, making it amongst the largest Torah and Science conferences on record. Rabbis, university professors, health practitioners and other professionals, students and Jews from a broad spectrum of the local community got together to listen to dozens of presenters expound on the interface of the eternal Torah and many scientific disciplines. As stated by one of the speakers, "there are many excellent Torah gatherings and scientific conferences; this Torah and Science conference however is unique in its tribute to the unity of G-d".
Several officers and members of the Torah Science Foundation made seminal contributions to the conference.
Prof. Eliezer Zeiger, founder of the Torah Science Foundation, spoke about "Time, Space and Consciousness". He described the parallels between "subjective" and "objective" time in the theory of relativity and the "higher" and "lower" time of Kabbalah and Chasidic philosophy. The Greeks actively fought the Jewish belief that "time" is the expression of Divine providence in the world, that being the reason that they forbade Jews to keep the Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh (the head of the month) and Brit Milah (circumcision). So the festival of Chanukah is also a celebration of the triumph of the Jewish belief on the nature of time.
Moshe Genuth, co-founder of the TSF spoke about the law of entropy in science and Torah and how a review of the Torah's understanding of this law serves to define some limiting factors in the law's scope. He also discussed how the understanding of entropy's scope affects current discussions on immortality in both science and Torah.
Dr. Tzvi Saks spoke about the Unity of time. He indicated that Jewish time can be seen as a unity from several perspectives. Past, present and future co-exist and influence each other, primarily through the all-important mitzvah (good deed) of teshuvah (repentance or return). According to Chasidic philosophy, properly accomplished teshuvah provides a way to actively access the past and transform the darkness generated by a misdeed into light that it is more powerful that light itself. Dr. Saks, a mathematician and contributor to the TSF developed a mathematical model for treating such unified characteristics of time.
Dr. Yakir Kaufman, a neurologist at Haddasah Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem spoke about psychoneuroimmunology - the science connecting body and mind. He indicated that contemporary science unambiguously proves that emotion and disease, the brain and the immune system, and the mind and the body are intimately connected. This newly understood connection provides an entry point for translating the ancient Torah view on the connection between disease and the soul into advanced medical language.
In a widely attended Shabbaton, the TSF's vision of a Torah Academy (see our website for more details) was discussed. The Torah Academy will bring together Torah and science on an ongoing basis, in the areas of education and research.
Many other exciting subjects were presented in the conference, which will be published in a special issue of B'Or HaTorah" planned for 2002.
2. A Torah Science curriculum in a religious high school.
The TSF and one of Israel's fastest growing religious high schools, Levona, are actively engaged in the planning of a teachers college, aimed at training high school teachers in the teaching of Torah Science subjects.
Over the past three years, Levona has sponsored a weekly seminar on the synthesis of Torah and science in the Israeli high school curriculum taught by Moshe Genuth. The goal of the teachers college will be to bring the methodology of Torah and science at the high school level to those studying for a teaching certificate, a B.Ed., and those teachers attending Sabbatical or supplementary courses.
3. Website Updates
Since our last update we have added 2 articles to the website. The first "Light and Color" (based on a lecture series by Rabbi Ginsburgh) surveys some of the basics on these two topics as analyzed through the conceptual tools of Kabbalah and Hassidic teaching.
The second, a joint article by our co-founders Professor Eliezer Zeiger and Moshe Genuth, was originally written for and published by the Olam journal (www.olam.org) and uses a concept discussed in the Zohar to explain the centrality of Jerusalem in the developmental process of mankind's consciousness.
4. Financial Support.
Several far-reaching projects from the Torah Science Foundation, currently in early stages of development, could reach completion in a very short time if proper funding is obtained. We invite our readers to support the TSF; every contribution, however modest, counts. Also, if you know of potential donors that could be interested in supporting the Kidush Hashem (sanctification of G-d's name) attained by our publications and projects that clarify the unity of Torah and Science, please let us know, and we will contact them. We are encouraged by the strong momentum emerging from our work, and are keenly aware of the tremendous difference that adequate funding will make.
5. SHORT NOTE on: the Place of Humanities in the TSF's Model of the Arts and Sciences
Some of our readers who have had the opportunity to reflect on the "partzuf" of the scientific disciplines found on the home page of our web site (www.torahscience.org), and described in Vol. 1, # 1 of the newsletter, may be puzzled by absence of the Humanities in the model. However, two implicit facts about our 'partzuf' deserve elaboration
1) A partzuf-based model is meant to correspond in many ways to a street map, which identifies the roads and the major intersections, but cannot describe the actual cars and passer-bys that move through the streets. Models like ours are meant to come 'alive' through reflection on the information or energy flowing through the network of pathways running between the nodes. This resulting flow represents the dynamic nature of a partzuf-based model.
2) The application of a partzuf-based model relies on its recursive, fractal-like nature. 'Zooming-in' on each node of the model reveals that each node contains a miniature of the whole model. Taking Economics for instance (which corresponds to the sefira of Splendor), we find the Crown of Economics, which may be akin to the axiomatic elements found in every economic theory; the Wisdom of Economics corresponding to the mathematical element in an economic theory; the Understanding of Economics-the Natural factors discussed in an economic theory, etc.
In contrast, the research and study of the Humanities (history, literature, etc.), is not of an applied nature. Knowledge of the Humanities is primarily descriptive in nature. On the other hand, the areas of science identified at the nodes are characteristically predictive and applicative. The descriptive nature of the Humanities ensues from their high level of coupling with human nature, which is in its essence 'ungraspable,' to use the expression found in Kabbalah. (The discipline of Psychology, related to the sefira of Knowledge (da'at), might have the highest level of coupling with human nature, and requires a separate note that B"H will be forthcoming)
Then, where do the Humanities fit in the partzuf model?
The answer lies in the aforementioned 'flow' of energy between the nodes. As explained, the nodes are only the intersections of the various 'pathways' that lie between them. The Humanities reflect the actual 'human' that experiences and gains knowledge of all these nodes, and are the actual 'energy' or 'traffic' that flows through the model in its entirety.
Kabbalah teaches that there are 22 different 'pathways' between the nodes of a partzuf, corresponding to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Thus, there are 10 nodes (sefirot), and the number 10 is the base of the decimal system and the root of all mathematics. Whereas there are 22 pathways associated with the nodes, corresponding to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. It is thus fitting that the sciences represented in the nodes use 'numerical language", while it is more fitting to use 'natural language' to study and describe the Humanities.
It was Galileo who proposed in the 16th century that "nature is a book and it is written in the language of numbers." This idea - to use numerical language in analyzing the natural world - was instrumental in bringing about the Scientific Revolution, and is adhered to by all the sciences explicitly named in the partzuf. The Humanities, on the other hand, have kept to natural language.