The Menorah – Symbol of the 7 Branches of Science
By Rabbi Efriam Sprecher
Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 12:32:51 PM
The Torah commands Aharon, the High Priest, "When you light the lamps, towards the center of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast light." (Bamidbar 8:2) According to the Maharal and Rabbi Yonatan Eybishuts, the seven branches of the Menorah represent the seven pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge and science. The Rambam in Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah Ch. 2 states that when you study nature and the natural sciences, you fall madly in love with the One above.
In fact in the Moreh Nevuchim the Rambam explains that if you want to see G-d, study the incredible wisdom, found in nature. That is how the Rambam explains the verse in Parshat Ki Sisa when Moshe asked G-d, "Show me Your Glory." G-d answered him, "I will make all My goodness pass before you… , and you will see My back…". The Rambam explains G-d's answer, "If you want to see G-d, it's only by an indirect way through the study of nature and the natural sciences. That's how one comes to know and love G-d as the popular song goes "to know him is to love him".
Rabbenu Bechaye explains the seven sciences as follows:(1) the Wisdom of Logic and Language (2) the Study of Mathematics (3) The Study of Physics and Chemistry (4) The Science of Geometry and Trigonometry (5) The Study of Music (6) The Study of Astronomy (7) The Study of Divine Theology.
The center lamp of the Menora represents the light of Torah which all the other branches face. Rabbenu Bechaye explains that the central shaft of the Menora that holds all the other branches together is the knowledge of the Wisdom of G-d. The other branches of the Menora are only the offshoots of that Divine Wisdom. As Psalm 111 states "Reshit Chcochma Yirat Hashem," "The source of all wisdom is the fear of G-d."
The Vilner Gaon's disciple, Rabbi Yisrael of Shklov, writes in Peat Hashulchan, "The Vilner Gaon explained that all secular wisdom is essential for our Holy Torah and is included in it. He indicated that he had mastered all the seven branches of secular wisdom and knowledge, including algebra, trigonometry, geometry and music."
The Talmud has many examples of how our Sages used science and mathematics to assist them in their understanding of Torah. To cite an example, in Sanhedrin 5b, it states that the great sage, Rav, spent many months among the shepherds studying the types of blemishes on animals, which heal and which do not, for the purpose of determining the Sanctity of the firstborn kosher animals. The Talmud in Shabbat 75a also criticizes one who knows how to calculate the calendar and positions of the constellations but does not do so.
The message of the Menora is that the light of Torah and the light of secular knowledge complement each other, as long as the Torah is the central focus, foundation, and basis of all secular wisdom.
Rolling Stones delay Start for Religious Jews
Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger will appear in Tel Aviv just as the holiday of Shavuot ends.
Photo Credit: Yori Yanover based on Kyle Blair/WENN.com image.
Long time readers of yesterday's papers know that JewishPress.com was instrumental in bringing the Rolling Stones to Israel, 2000 light years from home.
Our Rolling Stones Purim spoof was hot stuff and it was just like the hand of fate flipped a switch and suddenly the Rolling Stones are in another land.
Now time waits for no one, even the Rolling Stones when it comes to when the Shavuot holiday ends. But now it looks like time is on my side as the Rolling Stones have delayed the start of their performance to 9:15PM in little Tel (&) Aviv to allow religious fans to get to the concert. We love you!
Who says you can't always get what you want?