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April 12, 2013
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Jewish World Review
The limitations of scientific miracles
Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
Moses' reminder to our generation
To be careful to perform all the words of this Torah. For it is not an empty thing for you, for it is your life.
Why was it necessary for Moses to even say that Torah is not ''an empty
thing?'' Furthermore, he continues, ''for it is your life.'' It is conceivable
that one would say about an item, ''It is not worthless. It does have some
value.'' But it is too drastic a contrast to say, ''It is not worthless, it is your
Moses was speaking prophetically to our generation, as he stated so clearly,
''Harm will befall you at the end of days, if you do what is wrong in the eyes of G-d''
The Jerusalem Talmud makes a sharp comment: ''If you think the Torah is
empty, it is the fault of your perception'' (Pe'ah 1:1).
We are the beneficiaries of unprecedented scientific advances. Who would have
dreamt that a human being would walk on the moon, that computers would be
invented that can make thousands if not millions of complicated calculations in
seconds, or that doctors would replace diseased kidneys, livers and even hearts.
Even these epochal achievements pale before the possibilities that lie in the future:
eliminating all disease by genetic engineering.
The undeniable accomplishments of science may cause parents to give their
children an education that will provide them access to the world of science.
However, parents may be so enthralled by the marvels of science that they may
lose sight of the fact that science can provide only for the ''how'' of life, but not for
the ''why'' of life. Even breaking the DNA code does not give a person an ultimate
purpose for life.
The Midrash says, ''You may believe that there is knowledge in the secular world,
but do not believe that there is Torah in the secular world'' (Eichah Rabbah 2:17).
Is it not paradoxical that in this age of scientific miracles, when we have the possibility
of living in comfort as never before, that the drug epidemic is ravaging our youth,
and that rampant violence and immorality threatens the very survival of mankind?
Some parents would never tolerate that their children be given a scanty secular
education, but are perfectly willing to allow their children to be ignorant of Torah.
How foolish to allow the ''how'' of life to totally obscure the importance of the
''why'' of life, of giving life meaning and value.
Yes, Moses was speaking to our generation, to which he had to say, ''Be careful
to perform all the words of this Torah. For it is not an empty thing for you, for it is
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Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. is a psychiatrist and ordained rabbi. He is the
founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, a leading center
for addiction treatment. An Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University
of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he is a prolific author, with some 30 books to
his credit, including, "Twerski on Chumash" (Bible), from which this was excerpted (Sales of this book help fund JWR).
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