Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I get the last word(maybe)

While reading The Jews of Lithuania by Masha Greenbaum, I came across the following statement regarding the Vilna Gaon: " He stressed the importance of mastering...any secular science that would promote better understanding of the devotional text....he commissioned his disciple R. Baruch of Shklov to translate Euclid's Geometry into Hebrew, the only language he knew, apart from Yiddish. In the introduction.. R. Baruch summarized the Gaon's doctine as follows-

If a man is deficient in the sciences, he will be deficient a hundredfold in knowledge of Torah, for Torah and science go together."

The book also notes that the Gaon wrote more than 70 works, including one on Hebrew grammar and several books on mathematics. Although I was in error in claiming that Kramer's law was authored by the Gaon(thanks to F-P, I think), I can take solace that he did publish on the topic.

I don't want to start a huge discussion on the Torah U'Madda implications of the Gaon's views, but obviously he put some value in secular studies- but limited to its use as a vehicle to better understand Torah

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