Foundations of the World

Every year, as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year approaches, it is greeted with solemn prayers, introspection and deep thought. One custom shared in common, however, is the review of one’s behavior and a commitment to try to correct the mistakes made during the past year. It blends solemnity, self examination and joy, while requiring accountability in the process of generating hope.  Rosh Hashanah is the day on which G-d judges the world, and hopefully  inscribed in the “Book of Life.”

Rosh Hashanah has its own special sound, the shofar, which is sounded during the month of Elul (preceding the holiday) and throughout the High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah was originally called “Yom Teruah” (Day of Blowing the Shofar). The sounding the shofar reminds and gathers people for self-judgment, self-improvement and repentance. It announces that Holy One, blessed be He is forgiving and merciful, and will judge the world with mercy.

One Rosh HaShanah, when it was time to blow the shofar, Eliyahu haNovi (Elijah the Prophet) and another old man ap­peared to Tam, and told him that the voices of the accusing forces were strong in the Heavenly Court. The world indeed was about to be cast into darkness, chaos and destruction — if not for two holy souls who supported it with prayer, deeds and teaching, and prevented the world from collapse.

“And who is this ancient and honored guest who stands here beside you?” Tam asked Eliyahu haNovi.

“Why, this is Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Father),” replied the Prophet.

“And who are the two holy souls who support the world?” Tam asked.

“One of them is Chacham,” answered Eliyahu haNovi

“And who is the second?” asked Tam.

“I have already revealed too much to you and can not tell you anymore on this matter.” responded the Eliyahu haNovi.

After Rosh HaShanah, Tam went to Chacham to offer his greetings and blessings.  Chacham greeted him as he opened the door: “Shalom Aleichem! (Peace be unto you) You no doubt know that if not for the two of us the world was at the point of collapse.”

And only then did Tam discover that he was the other holy soul.

Rosh Hashanah

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more Rosh Hashanah stories see below:

A Prescription for Life

Philmont, Horses and Rosh haShanah

Rosh haHashanah: Forgiving A Debt

The Deaf Man of the Shul

The Dirty Treasure

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3) 

If the stories are not shared they will be lost. 

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11 Responses to “Foundations of the World”

  1. The picture is so thought provoking.

    I love the Tam and Chacham stories! Where can I find them?

    Is the story talking about the Lamed Vov tzadikkim?

  2. Some of the Tam and Chacham stories can be found in the book, Story Tour: The Journey Begins The fate and blessings of every generation rests with certain holy people – perhaps they are part of the Lamed Vov tzadillim

  3. Reading through this story also makes me wonder on the topic of the Lamed Vov tzadikkim; who else would Eliyahu HaNuvi (Elijah the Prophet) speak too?

  4. Faith has no basis in fact. Science is the truth on which the world functions. Simply said faith is the strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual dogmas rather than proof. Science is the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena of the world not the fantasies of the world was created by mystical magical means as described by religion. Science is a method that mankind can use to gain a greater understanding of the natural universe. It is a search for knowledge through observation. Advances in science demonstrate the reach of human logic and imagination. Religion and faith confuse people and mislead them into a medieval belief that the world is controlled by magics beyond the understanding of everyday people. So mystics, clergy and philosophers need to explain the working of the world.

  5. Science may hold many answers to the wonders of the world, however, even the most basic theories in science are very heavily flawed. For example, take something as obvious as Gravity; we understand that it works, however the fundamentals of what exactly causes it are still very much unknown. There are theories that try to explain it as a subatomic particle called a graviton, while there are others that believe it is a source of magnetism or even as far as saying it is a result of bending the fabric of spacetime essentially wrapping things into where they are. Science does hold many answers, but a lot of the time the answers are misleading, or not fully understood. If our theories in science were 100% accurate things like anomalies would not occur.

    They are random things that should adhere to our scientific theories, yet do not. Which is proof enough for me to realize these theories have flaws to them, and much like the dogmas of religion in which you advise others to not bother with; people place their faith into wholeheartedly. A very good example of this would be this up and rising movement individuals are orchestrating in which they are going out to do experiments themselves in relation to the geodesic properties of the earth; coming back with conclusions that the earth (according to their “observations”, and “Experimentations”) is flat. I find that the line between mystic, philosophy, science, and even psychology branch from the same ideas on the quantum scale, ie. Photons behaving as a particle when you watch them, but a wave when you do not. Schrodinger’s Cat only being dead or alive until we actively observe the outcome yet prior its “superposition” makes it both. Some things are very difficult questions and lead to very complex answers. The implications of these studies that merely observing things change the way they behave are difficult to grasp. And I do not understand how any of those theories of observation can, or not be proven. And there are some things that science even cannot avidly explain, a prime example is dark matter.

    Bottom line theories are different than fact, we do not understand them, yet we put our faith into them, we may not know the how the process works in some theories, but we understand what the end results generally are. Faith is faith, no matter if you paint it from a religious point of view to a scientific point of view. I strongly believe that faith in and of itself is something humanity cannot survive without. To live without faith that tomorrow would be better, to live without the hope that the sick will recover, having no faith in one’s own skills as they age. From a societal standpoint, faith is needed unless we truly want to live in a word of despair or be stuck in a place without any source of change.

    How do you imagine life would continue without faith in something bigger, or something as small as yourself?

  6. Thank you for clarifying my point, You are absolutely right when you said, “Bottom line theories are different than fact, we do not understand them, yet we put our faith into them” Because of logic and an understanding of the scientific method, “we may not know the how the process works…but we understand what the end results generally are.” You clearly remind those seeking answers in the falsehoods and innuendoes of religion that “faith in and of itself is something humanity cannot survive without. To live without faith that tomorrow would be better, to live without the hope that the sick will recover” doctors are finding cures everyday and relieving pain and suffering all over the world. Science is opening the minds of people to an infinite number of ideas. Ideas of men and women, not fantasies of religion and God. Man needs God to hide from reality.

  7. Can you for a moment explain to me, how you believe; or rather what science dictates how the universe was created, Do you accept randomly as a valid reason? How do you believe matter can develop (immaterial) consciousness? There is a difference between “blind faith” and “faith based on logic and evidence,” science needs faith as well in believing in the scientific axiom which requires more faith than to believe in the love scriptures teach us. it is more irrational and unscientific to believe that everything exists out of pure luck than to believe that everything has a cause.

    Science analyzes the How. Religion the Why. Science analyzes mechanics. Religion analyzes ethics and the way of living. And the latter is more important. As the Interacademy Panel announced: “Human understanding of value and purpose are outside of natural science’s scope. However, a number of components – scientific, social, philosophical, religious, cultural and political – contribute to it. These different fields owe each other mutual consideration, while being fully aware of their own areas of action and their limitations. While acknowledging current limitations, science is open-ended and subject to correction and expansion as new theoretical and empirical understanding emerges”

    If we take a look at what medicine really is we will realize that it is not the best point to support science; Medicine is based on the religious idea of “Helping the helpless”. Ever since ancient times medicine and religion have been very interconnected. IF we stayed close to the scientific Darwinian approach it would have us leave the sick to purge bad genes from the gene pool. It is very common to mistake technology for medicine, for example, take into mind a bypass surgery a technology even a plumber could explain and understand: if a pipe is broken, you should fix it. As simple as that. What I want to note is that we should not mistake “mechanics” for “science”. Fixing a blood pipe or making a nerve working as it worked before (but without actually knowing what it does when functioning) is too far away from “medical science”.

    Medicine in many aspects could even reduce the quality of life; in times long past people did not have good diagnostic tools and lived happily until their disease reached a critical point. Nowadays a teenager can learn they have a critical genetic disorder and face a 57% chance they won’t reach forty. How can that be an improvement on life? push too far into the gene therapy and we hit eugenics, which is very similar to the Darwinian point I used before.

    If turning water to wine or resurrecting people seem so funny, then what about modern science? What about quantum mechanics which has proven that the mind can actually affect the very existence of matter? What about NDE (near death experiences) cases being officially recorded? (individuals having conscious experiences long after their EEG waves flatlined ~20 after a cardiac arrest)

  8. The common surrounding this post have devolved into a question concerning faith. It appears that there is an argument that faith is an element in both science and religion. Today the conflict between religion and science is being fought when many different levels with many relegating belief in religion to the realm of fantasy and magic. While on the other hand science represents reality and invention. Truth be said that faith is different in science than it is in religion. The faith within science is that the true language of mathematics and the so-called scientific method will always lead to facts and truth. While the faith in religion is based upon belief that the universe is governed by supernatural forces that determine norms, mores and beliefs that are beyond explanation. The younger generation is being taught that faith and belief are no longer valid as science, in their opinion, has proven their religion is based upon mythology, legends and tall tales. I propose that with all of the arguments that the proponents of science put forth there is a fatal flaw. Without a spiritual belief there is no concept of right or wrong, good or evil or even simply light and dark. I challenge those who question the validity of religious or spiritual beliefs to read the story, The Farmer and Faith, and then explain the superiority of science over spiritual beliefs.

  9. I am totally amazed that the Rabbi has a story for everything, I think he masterfully addressed the issues in the recent comments. Personally I am offended by the tones taken by people who refuse to accept the feeling and emotional stirrings that are so much part of faith. I find science to be cold and clinical without feeling or emotion.
    Science can define color, but it can’t sense or react to it in any meaningful way. I am not very religious but I am very spiritual and really appreciate the stories that the Rabbi posts. The stories make me think and understand more about myself and how to interact with the world around me. Most importantly, the stories make me feel good

    The story is another feeble attempt to justify faith is a positive element of society. For millennia stories have been used to control how people think and behave. Since they have no basis in truth, the stories have cause much damage to people throughout the world by forcing religion on ignorant “fools” (as referenced by the story posted)

    Religious beliefs are out-dated at a time where we have such deep understanding of science, but history shows a constant tension between scientific and theological thought. The strength of science is in its dependence on verifiable thought for this reason society is advancing towards a secular, rational society and culture where religion at best is something private but widely viewed as fantasy and superstition. Most people respect science and the benefits it brings to society, such as new technologies and medical treatments and don’t question it because of its basis on fact. Religion is subjective and filled with flawed concepts since it is based on philosophy – of which very little is based on verifiable facts, just opinion. Most social ills – from bigotry to ignorance – can be blamed on religion. One of the purposes of science is to free people from what they call “religious superstition”. The story posted has no relevance on the discussion of the virtues of science and the failings of religion.

  11. Albert Einstein once commented, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind..”

    Religion contributes the sense that people are not to be held captive and entranced without growth of spirit, there is something in each person that yearns for meaning beyond numbers and theorems. People want to be touched in a metaphysical/spiritual way. They want to explore the meanings of life and travel the adventure of life. The sterile approach of science denies one’s sense of humanity and basic dignity.

    The sense of mysteriousness and fundamental dignity within each person is where a great deal of moral understanding starts, and applies to everything around them. The attack on faith and stories is a sign of the callousness of science and its inability to elicit true feelings.

    Religious stories always have an underlying purpose, which is to inspire people with faith and communicate wisdom and values. Stories and storytelling play an important role in most if not all spiritual traditions, religions and cultures. The spiritual wisdom of past ages were transferred mouth to mouth from generation to generation, often in the form of a story.

    Stories carry the quality of exciting the listener through stimulation of the imaginative side of people who listen to a story. A story is also easier to remember than a theory or spiritual principle without a defined context.

    Spiritual storytelling communicates directly to our Soul and affect us on a subtle and often unconscious level.

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