The Torah Science Foundation Newsletter
Volume 2, number 2
Nisan 5763 / April 2003
In this issue:
1. New On the Torah Science Web Site
2. Dr. Yakir Kaufman Hosted By the TSF in Los Angeles
3. "The Rocker and the Prof", a TSF Presentation at the Milken Jewish Community High School
4. The First Los Angeles Torah, Art and Science Festival
1. NEW ON THE TORAH SCIENCE WEB SITE.
The most recent addition to the web site of the Torah Science Foundation (www.torascience.org) is an essay entitled “Time and purpose in science and mathematics” by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz). This essay is the transcription of a lecture delivered by Rabbi Even-Israel to the Soviet Academy of Sciences, prior to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The delivery of this lecture to an official institution of the Soviet Union, an avowed atheist state was a remarkable event showing that even in the former Soviet Union the hunger for spirituality and a Divine viewpoint of the Universe never ceased to exist. In a elegant approach, Rabbi Even-Israel reduced all the questions that humans can ask to three classes: What?, How? and What For? He then proceeds to show how the three classes of questions relate to time, how purpose and religion evolve from such an analysis, and how any question on purpose is, by necessity, a question on religion.
2. DR. YAKIR KAUFMAN HOSTED BY THE TSF IN LOS ANGELES
Dr. Yakir Kaufman, a neurologist from the Hadassah University Hospital specialized in psycho-neuro-immunology offered a lecture on “The Science Connecting Body and Mind” in Los Angeles, sponsored by the Torah Science Foundation. Dr. Kaufman pointed out that most scientists have until very recently rejected the concept that one’s psychological state and spiritual well-being can affect a person’s health. Recently developed methodology is providing solid scientific information showing that the connections between the mind and the body are real, and that body and mind can strongly affect each other and the overall well-being of the person. Dr. Kaufman described state of the art data on human health as related to mind-dependent spiritual activities. He indicated that these recent advances in psycho-neuro-immunology pulls science out of a narrow reductionist view rooted in the sixteenth century philosophy of Descartes, back into the holistic view of entwined body and soul found in the Torah.
3. “THE ROCKER AND THE PROF”, A TSF PRESENTATION AT THE MILKEN JEWISH COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL.
The Torah Science Foundation is offering a Torah and Science program at the Milken Community High School, a prestigious Jewish school of Los Angeles. In consultations with school teachers it became clear that the goal of introducing high school students to the abstract subject of the unity between Torah and science was a formidable one. These students are bright and eager to learn but the strong influence of television and the Hollywood culture gives them a “we have seen it all” attitude. We tackled the challenge with an innovative teaching team made up by Professor Eliezer Zeiger, a UCLA biologist and the CEO of the TSF, and Peter Himmelman, a famous rock singer and observant Jew. The pedagogic approach used was to have Prof. Zeiger deliver the “heady” concepts, which by themselves would have bored the young students very quickly, and have Peter Himmelman use his superb entertainment skills to sprinkle spicy stories and songs at appropriate times.
The first presentation was attended by 150 tenth grade students. The theme of the presentation was ”What is real?”, aimed at conveying the different levels of reality in which we live: Ordinary reality, the reality defined by science and the scientific method, and Divine reality. Peter Himmelman opened with a famous song of his, “Those imponderable things” and then told a real-life story of his youth that addressed the question of what is real in a very poignant way. Professor Zeiger then explained the different levels of reality at which humans operate. Upon starting to explain Divine reality, he was “spontaneously” interrupted by Peter, who inquired what was he talking about. Peter then turned to the audience and asked: “OK, let us see, how many of you believe in G-d”. More than half the students raised their hands. A lively discussion on faith, ordinary reality and the relationship between religion and science followed.
For the second presentation, we suggested to the teacher coordinating the program to have a follow up session with a smaller group of students, so that some of the questions addressed in the first presentation could be discussed in more depth. It was decided that the next presentation was to take place at a time in which all 10th and 11th graders attend an optional class that they can choose from an assortment of different, concurrent classes. It was overwhelming to find that more than 200 students chose to attend the presentation, exceeding the number of available chairs.
The third presentation was devoted to Divine and human law. In the location of the trial of O.J. Simpson, The Rocker and the Prof had to stretch their pedagogic and entertainment resources to make the point that Torah law offered humans an absolute standard of justice and moral values, and that Jews have the formidable gift and responsibility of embodying Torah law in the world.
The presentations were video-taped and plans are being developed to use that material as the basis of high-quality video tapes on Torah and Science to be used in high schools throughout the world.
4. THE FIRST LOS ANGELES TORAH, ART AND SCIENCE FESTIVAL.
Gal Einai, Kol Neshama Performing Arts Conservatory and the Torah Science Foundation are joining forces to present “Tiferet”, the first annual LOS ANGELES FESTIVAL OF TORAH, ART AND SCIENCE. Art is the vessel through which mankind expresses his G-d given ability to create while living in an already created universe. Science is man’s endeavor to describe creation and the natural laws of the universe. Both disciplines have evolved over the millennia to their remarkable present development. The TIFERET festival ventures into a new dimension: Exploring artistic expression and scientific knowledge through the prism of the higher wisdom of Torah.
The TIFERET Festival celebrates the underlying, organic unity between Torah and the arts and sciences. The numerical value of the Hebrew words for art, omanut (497), and science, mada (114), is equal to the word Torah (611). Both art and science contain sparks of holiness and truth that, when working together with the eternal wisdom of Torah, become key instruments of Divine revelation. In return, creation is blessed with deeper dimensions of Torah understanding.
Through an innovative workshop and lecture series and inspiring arts programs, the TIFERET Festival brings the spirit of Torah unity to Los Angeles. A gala evening on June 15, will feature the renowned Kabbalist, author and teacher, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh. A leader in the application of Torah wisdom to contemporary issues of the arts and sciences, Rabbi Ginsburgh will also head a performing arts workshop for women and a two day seminar entitled NATURAL CONSCIOUSNESS: ACCESSING INFINITE CREATIVE ENERGY.
Contact the Torah Science Foundation for further details about the TIFERET festival