Yes, that is true - if Judaism and science do not go hand-in-hand, we are in spiritual trouble. Judaism and science have to go hand-in-hand, and that is a message from the Torah: Judaism defines what to do and the science defines how to do it. In this regard, the latest directives from Israel’s Education Minister Bennett are confusing.

From the news media on Bennett’s directives:
Judaism is more important than mathematics. … We may be a high-tech superpower, but we must also export spiritual ideas to the world. … Studying Judaism and excelling in it is [more] important than studying math and science. … You wish to renew all the days of yore because you know that Judaism belongs to everybody. No sector has a monopoly on it. This huge corpus belongs to all the people of Israel equally. And if the famous verse from Isaiah ensuring that in the future we will know no more war is written on the building of the United Nations, and if the greatest civilizations in the world learned from us to believe in one God, take care of the orphan, the stranger and the widow, and adopted the Sabbath as a concept, we cannot afford to know less. Studying Judaism and excelling in it is more important than learning math or science, because even as a high-tech superpower, which exports knowledge and innovation to the world, we should also be a spiritual superpower and export spiritual ideas to the world, as we have done in the past. This is the next chapter of our Zionist dream. This is how we will return to being a light unto the nations.

What is confusing in this Bennett’s directives is the idea that studying Judaism is more important than studying science. If we follow the true meaning of the Torah, studying Judaism and science have to be equally important.

The majority of Jews believe that Tikkun Olam (literally, “world repair”) is at the core of our God-given mission of the Chosen.
Traditional interpretation of Tikkun Olam that had been developed 4-5 centuries ago is mostly mystical where God contracted the divine self to make room for creation and divine light became contained in special vessels some of which shattered and scattered. While most of the light returned to its divine source, some light attached itself to the broken shards. These shards constitute evil and are the basis for the material world; their trapped sparks of light. The “repair,” that is needed, therefore, is two-fold: the gathering of light and of souls, to be achieved by human beings through the contemplative performance of religious acts. The goal of such repair, which can only be effected by humans, is to separate what is holy from the created world, thus depriving the physical world of its very existence—and causing all things return to a world before disaster within the Godhead and before human sin, thus ending history. For such ritual/religious-acts repair, the science is not needed – the Torah-based Judaism is enough.

However, the last two centuries of Jewish life in Europe and America made the repair based only on the “ritual/religious acts” spiritually unsatisfactory. In the last two centuries, the Jews of Europe and America obtained real political and economic freedoms that allows the Jews an active participation in moving the Western Judeo-Christian civilization in the direction of actions that create a truly better – both spiritually and materially - world for everybody. That is not just “the gathering of light and of souls, to be achieved by human beings through the contemplative performance of religious acts”, where the ritual religious acts are the ultimate goal – that is the building a better spiritual and material world for everybody in accordance with God’s Torah-based guidance. And for the creative acts aimed at building of a better world for everybody, the knowledge of science (in a general definition of this word that includes technology, economics, engineering, architecture, etc.) is a must. For the real contemporary Tikkun Olam, the science is needed.

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