The answer lies, in appreciating the complexity of human nature. On the one hand we are like Dr Schectman, a Tzelem Elokim,a mind blessed with an insatiable desire to draw ever nearer to His Absolute Knowledge. As Ralbag points out nicely, this absolute knowledge, is unattainable to us. Yet, via exploration of His Creations, in Chemistry Physics and other disciplines, we can draw ever nearer, in our models of science.
Blessed and most revered be the tzur ("rock"), foundation of all existence, whose “insight” (T'vunaso) , “wisdom” (chochmaso) and “knowledge” (Daato) bring into being, a system of existing things, whose existence exhibits a wisdom and grace which none but He can completely apprehend.The very limitation of our apprehension, is naturally painful to us. Our psychic makeup causes us to desire to be Elohim, great beings secure in power over their environments. We yearn for science to cure cancer and disease extending our power over the environment, not to point out our frailty. We need to have confidence in our pillars of science, in the absence of such pillars education would be impossible, as would much applied research.
It is vital that we keep in mind that it is impossible for us to completely apprehend the wisdom and grace expressed in the nature of the Torah’s existence. In reality we know but a pittance and are ignorant of much, as is the case with our knowledge of the nature of all existing things with regard to their wisdom and grace. In reality we apprehend but very little, as is well known to all those who do real research in the natural sciences- and come to appreciate the gap between our models of the of the laws of the Universe and their reality.
Much as we can identify with the pioneering spirit of Dr Schectman, we must be be able to appreciate the limitation of his community as well. It is understandable that the research community would at first reject fundamental questioning. Much research depends upon applying established knowledge to new particular cases. If a biologist is not confident in the core notion of DNA, how is he to spend the long years needed to become educated in his field? How is he to dedicate himself to applying this notion to the myriad of cases available in the real world?
It is recognizing the tension between our psychic needs for security and dignity in the application of old models of knowledge, alongside our need to move ever closer to Him through attaining breakthroughs in models that we come to understand the natural relationship of Teshuva and time.
We should be working through the complexity of our relationships with “Dr Schectman’s” on a yearly basis. The conflict between security in our current representation of the world, and its absolute reality should be playing out, on a regular basis, it is the lifeblood of the human community. The nature of Teshuva, the motion of ever increasing recognition of the limitations of the psychic world and motion toward the Absolute, is therefore the central theme of Moadot. How this is so will be explored in the next post.