Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Massacre of the Midianites

[Holy warriors? Or not?]

In Number 31:1-2, God tells Moses “And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 'Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites; afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.'” In the remainder of the chapter, 12,000 Israelite soldiers attack the Midianites and kill everyone except for 32,000 virgins who were taken as slaves.

Some people have the impression based on this that Judaism condones the murder of gentile prisoners of war. In reality, however, this is not the case. For example, when King David conquered Syria, he merely placed garrisons there; no genocide took place. Likewise, later, during the period of the Maccabbean revolt, there is no record of any massacre of civilians. The Midianites were an exceptional case explicitly designated by God; they were not a general precedence.

In addition to this, following the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt, Jews have renounced all armed struggle. Modern Zionism has been a primarily secular movement, founded by the atheist Theodor Herzl and opposed by most prominent Talmudic scholars.

For the past 1,800 years, the majority of Orthodox rabbis have preached de facto pacifism while waiting patiently for the Messiah. In fact, rabbinical students in Israel are ridiculed as draft dodgers while in the United States and other countries with no draft, merely a handful of Orthodox Jews serve in the military as chaplains.

In regards to violence, Orthodox Jews are closer in practice to the pacifist Amish than we are to the Islamic jihadis, even though we may all wear beards and believe in God.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why God Created Earlier Worlds

[What was the point?]

In the 18th century, scientists began studying fossils more intensively. In 1841 three primary layers were identified by geologist John Phillips. One layer, the Paleozoic, consists primarily of extinct shellfish such as trilobites and plants such as ferns. The Mesozoic includes huge extinct reptiles, the dinosaurs. The Cenozoic includes an abundance of mammals, many huge and now extinct such as the mammoths, and flowering plants. All paleontologists since 1841 have confirmed the existence of these primary layers. Rabbi Yisrael Lipschitz, the rabbi of Danzig, Germany gave a speech in April, 1842 (published as Derush Ohr HaChayyim, found in the back pages of the Tiferes Yisrael Mishnayot Nezikin volume 1) regarding the fossils. He explains these findings based on Midrash Rabbah Breishis 3:7 which states that many other worlds were created and destroyed previously to this one. Rabbi Lipschitz wrote that the fossils were remnants of those worlds.

One question, which may be asked, is, what was the purpose of these earlier worlds that have since become extinct? Why did God create them merely to later destroy them?

I would speculate that the answer might be as follows.

Scientists have today discovered that these earlier eras created treasures which we enjoy today.

About 60% of the minerals on earth were created by life. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere was created by living things. Most of our electricity is generated by coal, coal that was created by extinct plants. Our vehicles are powered by gasoline and our homes are heated by natural gas. These fuels were created by ancient marine life.

It would therefore seem to be clear that these earlier eras of life on earth were all part of God’s wonderful plan to prepare the earth for us. Thank God for the trilobites and dinosaurs!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Genius of Judaism – A Total Educational System

[a mezuzah]

One of the remarkable things about Judaism is that Judaism doesn’t merely teach us to be good people and to believe in God; Judaism includes a complete educational system to constantly remind us of God and morality.

A Jew says brief prayers before and after eating and after using the bathroom.
A Jew stops using electricity and machines for one day a week to remind him that God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh.
A Jew observes many holidays each year to remind himself of all of God’s miracles throughout history.
The matzo and the sukkah remind us of the Exodus.
The mezuzah on every doorway reminds us of God.
The tzitzis worn by a Jewish man remind him of all the commandments.
A Jewish man puts on tefillin each day to remind himself of God.
A Jewish man attends services in a synagogue three times each day.
A Jewish man studies the Talmud each day.

This is a truly unique and ingenious program which allows the Jew to live in this material world while at the same time remembering all his religious principles.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Domino Theory

The fossils have led to evolution.
Evolution has led to atheism.
Atheism has led to psychopathy.
Psychopathy leads to death, either through war, murder, suicide, abortion, addictions or failure to have children.

The purpose of this blog is to stop the dominos from the beginning, to provide a different interpretation of fossils and to redirect mankind away from death and toward life, peace and happiness.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Thank God for Photosynthesis

[Blessed are You Who Takes Bread from the Earth]

The Torah commands us to love God and Maimonides wrote (Hilchos Yesodai HaTorah 2:2) that we attain a love of God by contemplating His amazing creations and witnessing in them His great wisdom.

One of those wonders is photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process which plants use to convert water and air into starch and sugar. Part of the process involves transferring the energy of sunlight into those starches and sugars. This is how all life receives the energy it needs. This process is so complex that scientists can still not reproduce it artificially. One amazing aspect is that somehow energy is transferred with almost complete efficiency and no loss of energy to heat. Leaves are not warm, while if you touch an electrical device like a computer you’ll notice that it’s warm because part of the energy being transmitted by the wires is lost to heat.

Scientists have now discovered that the reason for this is the fact that plants are able to make use of quantum mechanics to transfer energy. In essence, individual electrons behave differently than larger objects and in certain circumstances they are able to transfer energy extremely rapidly and efficiently. One of the most complex and little understood areas of physics is involved in the life of every plant!

Thanks to this miracle of creation we have bread and all other foods. Let’s remember that the next time we make a blessing.