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Tanya, Torah and Science: Part 2

Click here for Part 1

What blemish is caused by engaging in science in an unrectified manner? And how is the war of the Hasmoneans against Greece connected to this blemish?

The Beginning of the Kingdom

In our previous article, we saw that according to the teachings of Tanya chapter 8, the source of external wisdom (called “science” in our days) – wisdom that developed parallel to the Torah –is in the World of Chaos. Since the sefirah of wisdom in the World of Chaos was blemished when the World of Chaos shattered (a phenomenon known as “the shattering of the vessels” – because the sefirot from da’at [knowledge] and below were completely broken) engaging in this wisdom causes those exploring it to dogmatically believe in the tangibility of reality. In this article, we will explore this dogma and connect it to Chanukah. 

Ability to Pray Undermined

The dogmatization of the tangibility of reality in the consciousness is expressed in an erroneous understanding of the relationship between God and nature. A person whose blemished faculty of wisdom has marred his consciousness is not only incapable of believing that a person has the power to change nature – many times he is also incapable of believing that God changes reality. Even a famous scientist such as Einstein, who believed that there is a God Who created the world (and perhaps even identified God with the world of nature itself, a belief that evolves from Abraham’s declaration that the Creator is “God World” and not the “God of the world” as explained in Chasidut), could not believe that God is a personal God, to Whom it is possible and even necessary to pray, and that He answers man’s prayers and even performs miracles. The sages explain that all the miracles that Elisha – the greatest miracle worker in the Bible – performed were done solely with the power of his prayer (Megllah 27a). In our day as well, when tzaddikim enact miracles utilizing prayer, it is actually a result of their direct, personal connection with the Creator.

The Greek Attempt to Undermine our Direct Connection to God

Chanukah is connected to the struggle against the worldview that claims that God does not change or renew reality. As its name implies (Chanukah also means “to dedicate something new”) Chanukah is a celebration of the renewal of the service in the Holy Temple. It celebrates the renewal of the direct connection of both the individual and the entire nation with God.

The Sfat Emet explains that the three mitzvot that the Greeks particularly prohibited – observing Shabbat, sanctifying the new month, and circumcision –represent renewal in each of the dimensions of world (space), year (time), and soul. Shabbat represents renewal in the dimension of world, for it is the remembrance of Creation and the fact that the world is renewed (and not primal, as the Greeks claimed). Sanctifying the new month represents renewal in the dimension of time. And circumcision represents the possibility of renewal in the dimension of the soul and the foundation of the personal, direct connection between the Jew and his Creator. The mitzvah of circumcision was given to Abraham to make it possible for him to “walk before God” – to lead reality to its true destination. The Zohar calls every circumcised male a tzaddik and as the sages say, the tzaddik takes action and God works through him.

Lighting the Menorah: Rectification of the Seven Wisdoms

The first letters of the words חודש (month), שבת (Shabbat) and מילה (circumcision) are חשמ, which are the first three letters of Chashmonai (Hasmonean). Moreover, chodesh Shabbat milah together equal 1099, the exact value of all the levels of the soul: nefesh (psyche), ruach (spirit), neshamah (soul), chayah (living one) and yechidah (singular one). Like the Hasmoneans, we have to sacrifice our souls for our connection to God. When we do so, we merit the opportunity to rekindle the holy menorah with pure oil, which represents the sefirah of wisdom of holiness. The seven branches of the menorah in the Temple represent, among other things, the seven basic wisdoms. When pure oil burns in them, it creates an aspect of rectified nullification, which rectifies the seven non-holy wisdoms. It radiates to the world that God both determines the laws of nature and also controls them and changes them per His personal connection with His creations.

Click here for Part 1

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay

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