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MODERATOR Posted - 05 February 2006 20:57
Partly reprinted form the "Lice" forum

Medrash Tehillim (19) quotes Shmuel as sayign he is an expert in the streets of Nehardea as much as he is an expert in the 'streets' of the heavens. the Medrash asks how Shmule knew all of that, and it answers he knew it all through the Torah. It then quotes a R, Hoshea as saying there is "space" between the upper waters and the firmament, and the Medrash asks how R, Hoshea could know this unless he traveled to space. It answers, he knew it from the Torah.

The Gemora in Bechoros 8a derives from a posuk in Bereishis the fact that gestation period of a snake is longer than the rest of the animal kingdom. This is cited by the Ramban (Toras Hashem Temima p.159 in Chavel edition) as but one example of how Chazal knew facts of science from the pesukim in the Torah that describe Brias HaOlam. He cites more. He says "the sages of Yisroel have knowledge through these pesukim of all of creation."

Rabbeinu Bachyai writes in the Introduction to Chumash that all wisdom and science in existence is contained in Torah.

Some scientific facts were known through rabbinic tradition. The Rashba cites a rabbinic tradition from Sinai that a treifah cannot live more than 12 months. (Rav Yonason Eyebushitz (kreisi Upleisi 40) writes that such traditions are not to be disregarded even if found to be against “all the laws of heaven and earth”, since they are part of Torah shebal peh.

The Maharal, too, states that all science is included in Torah, as Chazal says "hafoch bah hafoch bah d'kulah bah" (Chidushei Agados Menachos 64b). SImilarly, he writes(B’er Hagola 6) that when the sages mentioned a scientific fact, they derived it from their knowledge of the Torah and Hashem, Who is the Cause of all science. He says that science is inferior to Torah even where it comes to scientific knowledge, because scientists base their opinions on what they see, which is a finite and imperfect method of investigation, as opposed to knowledge of science through Torah, which is the root and cause for all facts in the world

The Chosid Yaavatz (Ohr Hachaim) says that chazal knew science form a Mesroah that goes back all the way to the Neviim, who knew it from Hashem, without any effort at all.

Particularly interesting is a statement on this topic in the Aruch Hashulchan (EH 13). Quote:

"I will tell you a great principle: Chazal, besides their holiness and wisdom in the Torah, were also greater scholars in the natural sciences those savants("mischakmim") who would argue against their pure words. And someone who disagrees with them testifies about himself that he does not believe in Torah she bal peh, even though he would be embarrassed to admit it outright."

Chasam Sofer (Beshalach) writes that this is the meaning of the posuk "Ki hi chachmascha ubinascha l'einei ha'amim" - Chazal were great experts in the secular sciences and disciplines. In fact, you need to know much secular knowledge in mmany areas in order to properly understand the Torah - and he gives several simple examples. However, since we are supposed to be busy learning Torah - not secular science - all day and night, and Hashem has no "nachas ruach" from us learning secular studies at all, how would Chazal have known all the secualr wisdom that they clearly knew, as we see they did from all of Shas?

Answer: They knoew it from the Torah, since the entire body of secular wisdom is included in the Torah, for the Torah is the bluepeint of the world. And so, when the Goyim see that we do not study the secular science books at all - and we even disagree with them! - yet we derive all the secular knowledge, in the most precisely accurate form - from only the Sefer Torah, they will exclaim, "Am chacham v'navon hagoy hagadol hazeh!" (A similar explanation is given by the Raavad-ibn Daud. He says that the posuk refers to the philosophical truths that it took the nations centuries to develop, we knew all the time via tradition from Har Sinai.)

Not only do we see that Chazal learned their science from the Torah, but Rav Breil, the Rebbi of the Pachad Yiztchok teaches us that we do not even entertain the possibility of a scientific statement in Chazal not coming from the Torah .This we see from Rav Briel's answer to the Pachad Yiztchok's question regarding the killing of lice on SHabbos. The Gemora permits it, based on a scientific fact. The Pachad Yiztchok asked his Rebbi that due to the possibility that this scientific fact is incorrect, perhaps we should be machmir and not kill lice on shabbos, just in case.

His Rebbi answered that there is no "just in case". Stating that Chazal’s knowledge is based on the reality, not mere scientific observation, he assures his Talmid that without a doubt the rabbinic science is more accurate than the science of the scientists, and even if currently it appears one way, the rabbinic view will eventually be proven correct. He mentions that in the disagreement between the sages and the scientists regarding whether the sun revolves around the earth or vice versa, the sages conceded to the scientists, but centuries later, it was proven that the Torah sages were right all along. Thus, he says there is no reaosn to even suspect that Chazal's statement regarding lice is inaccurate, and there is no reason to even be machmir because there is no chance of chilul shabbos at all.

Once we establish that the scientific knowledge that is incorporated into Torah Shebal Peh is derived form the Torah, it has the same status as all of Chazal's interpretaitons of the Torah --- they are binding:

The Gemora in Sanhedrin (100a) tells that R. Yochanan derived from a posuk that when Moshiach comes, the gates of Jerusalem will be made of jewels 30 amos long and 30 amos high. Some student said that such big jewels do not exist - "we do nto even find jewels as big as doves eggs," he said. Then, one day the student saw angels (!) cutting such big stones, and he asked them what they are for. The angels answered: "They are for the gates of Jerusalem". When next he saw R. Yochana, he praised his qualifications for expounding the Torah, based on his "scientific observation" that confirmed the Rebbi's interpretation.

R. Yochanan responded, "Bum! You only believe because of what you see? You dishonor the words of the sages!", and the student died.

The Ran (Drashos #13) points out that the statemnt of R. Yochana had no halachic relevence at all - it was merely an Agadic interpretation, and the disagreement was regarding a scientific fact, yet the student was punished for not believing in its truth. Therefore, he concludes:

"Just as we are commanded to follow their opinions regarding laws of the Torah, so too are we commanded to follow all of what they say from tradtiion in Hashkafa ("Deos"), and medrash on Pesukim. And someone who veers from their words, even in somethgin that has no relevence to any Mitzvah, is an Apikores and has no share in the next world.

The Radvaz (4:232) writes that "Aggadah is part of the Torah shebal peh and is rooted in what Moshe receieved on Har Sinai directly from Hashem, just like the rest of Torah shebal peh".

Similarly from the Alshich: "Nobody has a right in our generation to disagree based on his own opinion, if he did not find such an opinion from his predecessors (Rebbeim). We are commanded "lo sosur", which includes also Agadita." (Shmuel II 21:1)

The Sifri (48) explains the posuk in Devarim 11:22, "And you really follow all this Mitzvah", that "this means to learn Midrash, Halachah, and Agada."

(to be continued)

MODERATOR Posted - 09 February 2006 20:12
More of the same:

Rav Yiztchok Izak Chaver in Magen Vtzenah (p,49) - there are people who reject Chazal's statemetns because the secular scientists disagree (he gives examples, such as the sun rising above the firmament at night etc), and they laugh saying that we know its not true. they are fools. The {b]GAR, who even the scientists admit that he knew science much better than them, accepted all words of Chazal as fact, and that the philosophers and scientists (chachmei hatechunah) are all wrong, and he believed in the truth of the simple straightforward understanding of the words of Chazal. The GRA said that the scientists didnt come to the ankles of our sages in any secular discipline or science.

Chida (Shem Hagedolim: "Seforim":5:82) - There are a minority of Gedolim among us who disagreewith Chazal because of their scientific knowledge, but they do not understand that Chazal had Eliyhau Hanavi informing them, and they had Ruach HaKodesh to inform them.

Chasam Sofer -- Please see the Chasam Sofer in Beshalach I quoted above. He says the same thing in Drashos Chasam Sofer Vol. 1 p.100b. Our phophets and sages know all the sciences much better than the scientists even though all they learn is Torah. This is because the One Who created nature informs our sages of the corretc facts. This is what amazesthe Nations, as it says, Am navon v'chacham hagoy hagodol hazeh!

An identical interpretation to that of the Chasam Sofer's explanation Am navon v'chacham(I quoted one earlier in the name of ibn Daud regaridng philosophical knowledge) is found in the Ramak (Sefer HapPardes 13:6) regarding astronomy.

more to come....

MODERATOR Posted - 28 February 2006 22:49
From the Maharal (Ber Hagolah 6):

The Maharal is explaining why Chazal sometimes seem to contradict what science says:

Some people say that Chazal were not experts in the sciences. They say this because they see things stated by Chazal regarding causes of natural phenomenon that seeem unlikely to be true. But the truth is not as these people claim, because when Chazal spoke about natural causes they did not mean superficial, physically scientific causes - that is fitting for scientists or doctors, not for our sages. Our sages, on the other hand, when they spoke about the causes of nature, were referring not to causes that are natural but to what causes nature to act the way it does. And anyone who disagrees with this disagrees with our Emunah and our Torah ... the idea is this: When the Torah mentions a natural reason for something, that is the real reason, for every natural phenomenon there is a scientific cause, but for that scientific cause there is a spiritual cause – i.e. that cause of the cause – and that is what Chazal were referring to … when they discussed scientific matters, they did not mean to describe the surface-level cause, but rather the reason of the cause….there are people who misunderstand the words of Chazal who criticize them, saying that they did not know things that the non-Jewish scientists knew, but the truth is the very claim they make against [Chazal] applies to them, for they are far from the true science .. I will tell you a rule about the words of the sages: all their words are logical, and represent the true understanding of nature .. and even though some people will find this idea far-flung or doubtful as an explanation of what Chazal meant, but you should know that there is no doubt at in any manner whatsoever that this is what Chazal mean … for their words are correct and reliable, and only someone who does not understand them will have doubts … I have already explained that Chazal were nto discussing the physical aspects of things but rather their essence … the words of Chazal are with wisdom and logic and are not surface-level [physical] descriptions, but rather the words of our sages refer to the essence, and have no relation to the outer, material matter.

RuvenYisrael Posted - 19 October 2011 4:16
You said that we should not follow the evidence of our eyes when they go against Chazal.

So are you saying that if they say x and I go test it and I see not-x, then they are right, even though when I tried it I saw the opposite?

taon Posted - 26 October 2011 18:05
I think the Rav is saying that your test is not on what they are speaking about.
Your test is affecting one part, one level, of the thing, while Chazal's information is on another level. if you see one thing, but computer equipment concludes another, does it mean either is wrong in what they see? or, we know the earth is round. but if you look at the ground, it's flat. doesnt mean its not round.
MODERATOR Posted - 28 October 2011 3:13
Reuven Yisroel,

It is comparable to your school teacher telling you you that cement is made up of energy particles flying in different directions, and then your eyes tell you it is not so but rather cement is a solid rock-like mass.

So, no, if you "tested" Chazal and found they were wrong, you didnt understand either Chazal or the results of your test. Possibly both.

Your vision is not a qualified instrument with which to "test" Chazal's words. Rather, Chazal's words are a test of the correctness and the extent of your vision.

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