Monday, May 19, 2008

Loshon Hara causes.... Science

Warning... this could make your brain hurt.

We all know about the terrible sin of lashon harah (speaking evil of someone). It's a sin that causes untold grief, disrupts marriages, destroys friendships, and causes baseless hatred between man and his fellow man. Volumes have been written about this sin and the terrible disharmony that is a result of it.

However, there is a side effect of it that I bet you weren't aware of. As it turns out, lashon harah also causes advances in science. No, I kid you not. According to Divrei.org:

As Rabbi Kessin has pointed out, if the Jews sin, then the Soton receives the flow of Divine energy, twists it into a physical caricature of its spiritual form, and gives it to the nations. In this case, the light of Moshiach, a divine wisdom which gives insight into the spiritual worlds, was converted into a body of knowledge that shows the mechanics of the physical world. And what is that? Science.

That's right... Science is only a perverted form of Divine energy. And is science a good thing? Well...

Certainly we have benefited from the many advances in science, along with the rest of the world. There has been a terrible price, however. Why does the Soton want the world to be filled with knowledge of science? Until science’s advent, atheism was unheard of; it had no intellectual underpinnings. Science, however, can be construed to present a form of reality that does not include Hashem, chas v’shalom. Once the Soton could influence the nations into giving up their religions (which, twisted they may be, still involve an awareness of a divine being), he could then turn the nations onto the Jews and “enlighten” them. How many millions of Jews abandoned their Torah when confronted with the very real powers of science? From simple shtetl yidden who were bowled over by their first glimpse of a locomotive train, to ambitious university students who felt obligated to drop their “backwardness” in order to get ahead, the fires on the altar of science have had no shortage of fuel. Today, nine of ten Jews are nebbuch totally non-religious, with at most a token “seder,” an occasional bagel, and a casual visit to a temple on the High Holidays to show for their heritage. We have no idea how many millions of “gentiles” are in fact lost Jews who fell away from our nation over the centuries. Furthermore, gedolim are becoming a rarity, as the siyatta d’shamaya dries up more and more. What’s more, the sheer effort to become a ben Torah has become a larger and larger mountain. As one rav ruefully observed, “The [primary] purpose of kollel today is to make frum ba’alabatim!”

That's right... Science is only a tool of Satan to get us to abandon God. Certainly HaShem doesn't want science, right? After all, it's Satan's tool.

And what should be the proper Jewish approach to the wonders of science? The author of the piece suggests the following (emphasis his):

Since all the advances in science came ultimately from the Soton, who had taken the ohr Moshiach that had been meant for us, had twisted it into a force for understanding the physical world, and had given it to the nations, we must take another attitude every time that we visit one of those big-box electronics stores to buy yet another appliance. As we gaze in wonder at the latest super-small, yet super-speedy computers (far faster than last year’s model) and marvel at the latest that technology has wrought, a sad thought must cross our minds: “All this is but a perverted shadow of what was really meant – for us!”

That's right. Advances in science are simply perversions of the light of Moshiach. And, therefore, what should we do?

Says Rabbi Kessin: Look at the damage done by loshon hora. Not only does a Jew’s speaking or believing loshon hora enable the Soton to prosecute him and then punish him, but this sin also gives the Soton the ability to take the kedushah which was meant for us, pervert it, and give it to the nations, who then can use it against us. Furthermore, when the Soton is able to take from the ohr Moshiach, the advent of Moshiach is delayed, and he is able to continue his destruction in ways never imagined before. On the other hand, one who guards his tongue not only preserves his mazal, his good fortune, but continues to direct the shefa of kedushah to Klal Yisroel (to both his and all Israel’s benefit), including the ohr Moshiach, thus directly hastening Moshiach’s arrival.

Yep, that's it. Don't speak lashon harah and the evil of science will stop. If we would all just stop speaking evil of one another, those awful scientists will stop trying to cure diseases. Hey, maybe if we're really good at it, they'll forget the vaccines to polio, smallpox and the like. Perhaps we'll even forget about electricity and go back to learning Torah by candlelight, as we were obviously meant to. Certainly many of the horrible agricultural advances that proved Malthus wrong could be turned around, and we can return to those wonderful times of the world population having to worry about famines every now and again.

Perhaps, if we're really good at curbing our hate speech, we will no longer have refrigeration and modern sanitation. Heck, the Torah *meant* for us to have cholera and other diseases brought about by unsanitary conditions.

In addition, I want to know whose lousy lashon harah inflicted us with the printing press. Don't we know that the sefarim that we have nowadays (produced until recently on a printing press and now on computers) are just products of the Soton and really should all be handwritten?

If only HaShem would forgive us for the horrible sin of lashon harah and take back the "curses" of modern medicine such as surgery, antibiotics, vaccines, preventive medicine and physical therapy. If only we could defeat the Soton and his handiwork of heavier-than-air flight, communications, agricultural advances, plastics and modern sanitation. If only we could stop speaking lashon harah, we could return to the wonderful way of life we had a thousand years ago:

  • when the life expectancy was not even forty
  • when families could almost be assured of losing at least one child to disease or accident
  • when women routinely died in childbirth
  • when Torah books were so rare that most people didn't even have a siddur in their house (let alone all the sefarim that they have now)
  • when any number of medical conditions from a ruptured appendix to diabetes to cancer meant certain death
  • when human and animal waste were almost omnipresent in homes and in the streets due to the lack of sanitation, inviting (often incurable) disease into our lives
  • when travel from one town to the next often involved fears of highwaymen
  • when the fastest that news could travel was the maximum speed of a horse or a ship
  • when food could not be stored beyond a day or two due to the lack of refrigeration

and lastly...

... when a community (such as Lakewood) where thousands of people learn all day and do not work could never exist.

The Wolf

Hat tip: OnionSoupMix

(And before anyone gets any wise ideas - no I'm not condoning Lashon Harah. My opening paragraph was meant sincerely. It's just the silly idea that LH causes science [thereby making science bad] that I'm taking issue with).

23 comments:

Daganev said...

Malthus ended up being wrong because of economics, not because of science.

invention is not science, they are two very different things. (a major fallacy that the guy you are mocking makes as well)

BrooklynWolf said...

I could be snarky and point out that Economics is a science too... but I'll concede the point.

In any event, it's true that invention is not science, but certainly it's undeniable that invention is greatly helped along by science.

The Wolf

Zach Kessin said...

I just want to go on the record that I am NOT related to Rabbi Kessin. We just share a name. I am very much a science geek. (BA In Physics) my father is a Professor of Biology at Columbia Medical school and very much an active scientist.

Zachary Kessin

Pesky Settler said...

Finally! Someone is claiming that Lashon Harah is the root of all evil and not women's lack of Tznius!

Charlie Hall said...

Has Rabbi Kessin ever read the first chapter of the Book of Daniel? It is about a scientific investigation! In fact, the non-Jews didn't come up with a better study design until the 20th century. This completely debunks Rabbi Kessin's argument.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

pesky settler:

you just didn't ask him who says the most loshon hara :-P

Larry Lennhoff said...

What I find fascinating is that the power of Lashon Harah takes away the Ohr Mashiach from the Jews and gives it to the Gentiles to pervert in eeeevul science. This explains why there has never been a famous Jewish scientist!

Zach Kessin said...

Larry Said
...This explains why there has never been a famous Jewish scientist!
Yea I'm having trouble thinking of any...

Einstein, Richard Feynman, Jonas Salk, Sabin, Judah Folkman, Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller, David Baltimore, Robert Aumann, Charlie Hall, Leo Szelard, Issac Asamov*, Niels Bohr, I.I. Rabi, Julian Schwinger, Murray Gell Mann Arno Penzias, Stephan Winburg, Stephen J. Gould**, David Gross, Richard Kessin***. A LOT more who i don't feel like listing


*OK he was mostly a writer, but he did have PhD In chemistry
** I went to grade school with his son
*** My father

Charlie Hall said...

I am not worthy of being in that group.

I would also add Rosalyn Yalow, PhD (Nobel prize in medicine, 1977) to that list. She belongs to an Orthodox synagogue about two miles from me.

Larry Lennhoff said...

Just for the practice in judging favorably, let's grant Rav Kessin the assumption that lashon hara does cause science and delay the advent of the moshiach. If you hold by Ramban's interpretation of the Messianic era, it seems clear that if you have the choice between a world of teva with science and the world Ramban describes (peace, very long lifespans, end of injury, disease, suffering, poverty, fundamental improvement in human nature, etc.) the latter is in fact more to be desired.

Everyone above is imagining that the alternatives are between a world with the science and the nature of 2000 years ago and the contemporary world, but I suspect that isn't the set of choices Rav Kessin is thinking of at all.

Zach Kessin said...

I am not worthy of being in that group.
In terms of number of publications or citations etc probably not.

But I'm sure glad to call you a friend and that we have you as one of us.

I think tonight I will pull out the telescope. There is nothing so pretty as the rings of Saturn. Catch them now, they will be edge on to us in '09.

ProfK said...

As my readers can attest, I am never struck speechless, but this article did indeed strike me speechless. I don't suppose someone could point out to Rabbi Kessin that science has been around for centuries, albeit in perhaps more primitive forms than now, meaning that loshon horah has been working overtime for centuries as well. Since science is advancing so rapidly now, we must be talking loshon horah in overtime. Could no truly great man among the gedolim of our history see the relationship that is so clear to Rabbi Kessin? Does he dismiss mathematics and logic as well? He has a very faulty cause and effect argument going, a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy (after this, therefore because of this) and a sum hoc,ergo hoc fallacy (assumes that two events occurring simultaneously or concurrently are therefore caused by the same thing or are related causally.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

rachel said...

Does he really think people were always frum prior to the haskalah? I guess that's what happen when you don't teach jewish history in yeshivas.
just some other periods when the majority of jews weren't frum were:
Shoftim, majority of malachim, parts of beis sheni, inquisition

concernedjewgirl said...

Does the Rabbi live in a hut? As he seems to be preaching against anything that is science, I'd like to see how he thinks his house was built having all those ‘modern gadgets' as was his example. Unless he has no fridge, for sure no microwave, no running water, and no artificial light.
I'm sure he doesn't feed his children any processed foods, so no complaining that food prices are going up because he grows it all in his hut.
It is not science, nor the education of it that is evil. It is un-educated, ignorant men that warp findings into whatever they need to in order to pull the wool over their follower’s eyes. Anything at an extreme is just not good, especially when it is concerning religion.
An extreme of such religion perversion: David Koresh, Mormon compound in ELDORADO, Texas just a few examples.

aaron from L.,A. said...

Bull cookies!Everyone knows the greatest danger facing Jews today is mixed dancing!

eglantine said...

who is rabbi kessin? ( this is a real question, a rhetorical question, an ironic question, and an adolescent comeback all rolled into one).
do i really want to know who rabbi kessin is? ( this is a question that calls for thought).
is it important for me to think about what rabbi kessin thinks? (is it? i really do not know, although it does seem to me hardly worth any mental energy).
isn't talk cheap? meaning, most people can talk, and isn't it part of learning to live well and intelligently to bracket out much of it?
is rabbi kessin worth responding to? a response is a form of validation of any given premise, something that bestows a sign of legitimacy of some sort on any given message or action. do i want to do this? or did i just do this?

Tzvi Feifel said...

Wolf...you're awesome!

Moshe said...

So according to him all of those Rabbeim who were doctors, mathematicians and philosophers were the agents of soton?
I'm sure Rambam will be very happy to hear that who he was really working was soton.

Anony said...

The problems with science are related to its misuse or misapplication. A loshon-hara-free people would still have legitimate and beneficial uses for science.

Moshe said...

Yep, and one of those misapplications is giving this rabbi an opportunity to express himself.
If not for the evil, soton generated electricity, computers and internet, nobody would've ever heard of him or his opinions.

Bob Miller said...

...or Moshe's out-of-place mocking tone.

-suitepotato- said...

daganev: "Malthus ended up being wrong because of economics, not because of science."

No, it was science. Both because science can provide us the knowledge that we can implement through technology to greatly increase efficiency in generation and distribution of resources as well as sometimes their outright creation, and because his neurons were clearly miswired judging by his writings.

pesky settler: "Finally! Someone is claiming that Lashon Harah is the root of all evil and not women's lack of Tznius!"

Not me, buddy. Every time my wife takes her bra off, I suddenly have no resistance to spending the entire household budget on chocolate and jewelry instead of the mortgage. That shamelessness is going to destroy malekind one day, probably through personal economic mismanagement.

Charlie hall: "Has Rabbi Kessin ever read the first chapter of the Book of Daniel? It is about a scientific investigation!"

Who cares about that part? The truly spooky part is where he essentially invented the Darwin Awards competition by sticking his head in a lion's mouth. Even weirder, people still keep doing things like that and aren't even prophets.

larry lennhoff: "What I find fascinating is that the power of Lashon Harah takes away the Ohr Mashiach from the Jews and gives it to the Gentiles to pervert in eeeevul science. This explains why there has never been a famous Jewish scientist!"

Ooooh! Biting multiply re-entrant and variably meaningful sarcasm worthy of Einstein or Feynman. I endorse this.

aaron from L.,A.: "Bull cookies!Everyone knows the greatest danger facing Jews today is mixed dancing!"

This is entirely possible. Break dancing and the tango on the same floor can lead to dislocated joints and broken bones not to mention near suffocating laughter by onlookers.

Well, for me, I am not surprised by the rabbi's reasoning. Just disturbed that it wasn't me who came up with it and slightly in awe of the chain of reasoning worthy of a career in door to door sales speech composition.

I pray G-d help him to see the light, and get a good night's sleep on a space-age memory foam mattress. Those things are soooo cool.

Anonymous said...

I would suspect this Rabbi doesn't avoid vaccinations, medication, surgery , MRI, CAT scan, Ultrasound or any of the other benefits of this evil satanic science he so vehemently condemns.

The next time he has a toothache, will he go to a dentist or say tehillim? Probably it would be both.