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The Torah has a take on everything

Friday, 19 October, 2012 - 12:05 am

Our sages in Ethics of our Fathers say regarding the Torah: “Delve and delve into it, for all is in it.” Torah scholars have derived much practical wisdom for daily living from the Torah’s teachings.

After his marriage, the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman, lived in Vitebsk. The Governor of Vitebsk had a sundial, which for some time had failed to show the correct time between two and five in the afternoon. The governor consulted experts and professors but none of them could solve the puzzle. Having heard of the young Rabbi’s great knowledge he summoned him to come. The Rebbe inspected the sundial three or four times, during the hours when it was working, and also when it was not working. After completing his investigation, he said: "The Talmud states that at midday the sun is directly overhead; thus, nothing except the clouds can obscure it. But in the afternoon, when the sun shifts westward, it is possible for certain objects to block the sun's rays." He estimated that there was a tall hill about twelve to fifteen miles to the south, with tall trees growing on the hilltop. During those hours, they were blocking the sun's rays from reaching the sundial. The governor ordered an inspection of the areas twelve and fifteen miles south of his estate, to see whether there was indeed a hill with trees at its top.

However, Professor Marseille - Dean of the academy, and a renowned physicist - scoffed at the Rebbe's theory, saying: "The Jewish people are an amazing nation. They seem to know everything from the Talmud. Zelig the physician learned his medicine from the Talmud. Baruch the gardener learned how to improve the soil from the Talmud. And now, this young prodigy has discovered in the Talmud how the sun's rays reach the sundial!"

To this, the Rebbe replied, "Actual demonstrations serve as an axe to cut down those who are haughty with their knowledge of science." "Does this saying also appear in your Talmud?" asked the professor. "No," replied the Rebbe. "This saying comes from the Greek sage Galen, who applied it to the arrogant folk whose knowledge of science did not reach an elevated level."

They discovered a tall hill with very tall trees growing at its top and cut down the trees. The sundial began to work correctly again.

Over the past months we have enjoyed a series of classes downtown that shared the Torah’s perspective on various issues related to the election. We covered taxes, immigration, wealth sharing, healthcare and now we will deal with campaign finance reform. It has been a fascinating experience to discover the layers of wisdom contained in the Torah regarding these matters. Please join us for lunch next Tuesday, October 23 at 12 noon for the final class of the series at New York Camera – 705 Canal St.

The new six part JLI course entitled the Kabbala of You is kicking off on October 30 at Chabad Center in Metairie. From the course overview, “Bringing light to what it is that makes you YOU, will enable you to discover new depths of meaning that will have an impact on every aspect of your existence. Joy, contentment, courage, self-control, a meaningful relationship with G-d, beautiful relationships with others—these are some of the benefits of being in sync with your deepest self.” For more info

We express our deepest condolences to the Galler family upon the passing of Mr. Henry Galler.

Mazel Tov to Emily Nykaza and Jonathan Lissaur upon their upcoming marriage.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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