(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Bais Medrash (c) Torah.Org

Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 16:26:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: What is Torah

The question raised in BM Vol 1 #55--when is something Torah--is precisely
the topic of an entire article I wrote:
AUTHOR:   Russell Jay Hendel
TITLE:    Towards a Definition of Torah
JOURNAL:  Proceedings of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists
VOLUME:   Vol 3-4, pp 171-190
Offprints are available from me (Simply write and include your address).

Here is a quick summary of part of the article:
1) Ordinarily, showing that the square root of 2 is irrational would not be
Torah. But the Tosafoth in Succah 8b does present such a proof and it is

How could this proof of the irrationality of the square root of 2 which
INITIALLY was not Torah, BECOME torah in the tosafoth

2) ANSWER: The definition of Torah is NOT based on CONTENT but rather based
on RELATIONSHIP. Something is torah if

* If it is Tnach, or oral law OR * If it is RELATED to these primary
sources--in such a case (e.g. the the tosafoth in Succah) the resulting
entity is full fledged torah! (In the article I give interesting
philosophical consequences of this definition)

3) In the article I list 5 ways that science and Torah can RELATE a) giving
us the criteria for states of reality mentioned in halacha (e.g. when is
>  ones life in danger<  ) b) defining ambiguous words in verses (e.g. an
ingenious biological experiment is used to define ANT KING in Prv 6,6) c)
illustrating relationships mentioned in halacah or posookim d) explicitly
deriving science from Posookim (e.g. deriving that one should optimally
sleep 8 hours a night) e) metaphorically justifying scientific phenomena
using moral categories (e.g. the child from an act of intimacy will be a
boy if the man reaches climax last since he shows caring behavior for his

The article is filled with many purely scientific midrashim and many
interesting philosophical asides

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA
Rhendel @ mcs drexel edu