Talmud vs. Science
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: In a recent edition of the "The Jerusalem Report," there was an article, entitled, "The Heretic." It is the story of a man, named Yaron Yadan, living in Israel, who is an ex Ultra Orthodox Yeshiva head. He is an EX orthodox Jew because of the following reasons. Using his logic, he thought that if the Talmud was the word of G-d, and that it was originally taught to Moshe, and had been passed down until it was written down by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi and later rabbis, then the science that it talks about would be accurate according to todays science. So for example, he took a look at what our Sages have to say about Kashrut and family purity laws. He also studied human, animal biology. He came to the conclusion that the Sages understanding of animal biology was wrong and therefore the laws of Kashrut are flawed. He reached the same conclusion when he studied female anatomy and he now believes that the family purity laws are flawed as well. One more example is that of fish, and he claims that some early rabbis ate non kosher fish due to their ignorance of maritime life. And finally, since our sages thought that the world was flat,the times for the beginning and end of Shabbos are wrong.
I'm very sorry that I am being so ambiguous and I'm also sorry that I cant find this article on the internet, but this article is in the June 17th issue of "The Jerusalem Report." I'm very sorry to bother you but I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter. Is this man correct in the the Talmudic Sages are flawed in their science, and therefore the Talmud could not have been from G-d? This man, Yaron Yadan, talked to Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the famed orthodox scientist, who agreed with Mr. Yadan, that the science of the Talmud is wrong. So what is your position? Can the wisdom of science and the Talmud converge?
Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my email and hopefully respond.
Mesora: You do not quote what exactly Yaron Yadan thought to be Talmudic facts, nor what were his facts derived from science through "his own logic", as you put it. We have two unknowns, and perhaps two errors.
Talmudic knowledge is man's own understanding, it is not from God. Is man flawless? Of course he is not. Did the Rabbis of the Talmud make mistakes based on limited scientific knowledge of their times? Yes. So Talmudic knowledge when discussing certain areas in science is limited to the Rabbi's current-day facts. The Rabbis even acquiesced to the Greeks when they saw their correct positions. They were right to investigate and base decisions on the best of their abilities, just as we do today, and how the future leaders of Israel must continue.
However, God's knowledge transmitted to us as Mosaic law differs from man's knowledge based on science. There is no divinely passed down book on science, as there is on Torah. We do not say the Rabbis had a Mishna or a Biblical verse erroneously. That which stems from what God spoke to Moses, and Moses to us, is 100% accurate. It is God's knowledge which contains no error. "He is our rck, there iss no flaw in Him" (Psalm 92).
God created both the physical world which contains all laws of science, and the Torah. Both are reflections of His consistent and perfectly wise and rational system of knowledge. As both are rational systems, they cannot contradict each other on even one, single point. If we see contradictions, it is our own error. How can man have God's knowledge? It is ridiculous, impossible, and far more foolish an assumption than any other. To this, King Solomon referred, (Koheles, 5:1) "Don't be excited (with) your mouth, and do not hasten to bring forth words before God, for God is heaven and you are on Earth, therefore let your words be few".
It seems Yaron Yadan based his understanding Jewish law on his own, flawed reasoning, and did not perceive God's consistent and perfectly rational ideas. Many people make the mistake that they found "the reason" for such and such. They assume Kosher for example, exists due to health considerations. When they find shrimp to be as healthy as cow, they proceed to attack the Torah for making a mistake by prohibiting shrimp. But where is their proof that Kosher is based on health? Some people attack the Torah because they feel restriction on the Sabbath too harsh. They don't realize that restriction is only to set the stage for focusing exclusively on beautiful ideas, ideas unattainable while we labor at our positions.
I would question Yadan, "Were not King Solomon, King David, Moses, and so many other prophets and Rabbis much closer to the truth than us? The Torah proves God spoke with Moses. He did not speak with you for good reason. Moses had the correct ideas, direct from God. Why then did not all of these great individuals realize your new found 'knowledge' that the Torah is inherently wrong? All the world came to hear Solomon's wisdom. Did they come to hear you? Solomon spoke endlessly on the wisdom in the Torah, and the world understood him as tremendously wise. Mr. Yaron Yadan, are they all wrong?"
Although some, few Rabbis' statements are flawed by inaccurate facts (dwarfed in number by accurate ones) why did Yadan abandon ALL of Torah? People are looking for excuses to be "free" from Mitzvos. The Jews did so in the desert, and this hasn't changed with many Jews today. At the very least, Yadan should keep the laws which "his own logic" say are error-free. The fact he does not, demonstrates that he is not consistent, and we cannot side with inconsistent 'reasoning'. Reasoning, by definition, is consistent.
It is only he who seeks with earnest, the underlying depths of knowledge, who will find it. "If you dig for it like silver, and search it out like a buried treasure, then you will understand the fear of G-d, and the knowledge of G-d will you find" (Proverbs, 2:4-5).

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