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Science, Talmud & Ruach hakodesh of rishonim


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Nisan 28, 5773
Shalom, I have no problem in accepting that when the Rabbis are speaking in the talmud there is a lot more behind the scenes i.e kabbalaistic interpretations which takes care of a lot of statements which scientifically would not hold today. But if the ’rishonim’ were writing with as I have been told ruach Hakodesh how do we explain statements like that of Rabbeinur Tam in the beginning of Tractate Yevamot (12b?) that are not scientifically accurate?
There is a significant difference between the prophecy of the n’vee’im and ru’ach hakodesh of the rishonim, where you could go to the former and he can answer where you lost your keys (or donkeys, see Shmuel I, 9), while the rishonim had siyata d’shmaya, Divine guidance but didn’t have a “pipeline” to Hashem on each and every issue. Rabbenu Tam and the Rambam’s greatness lie in their Torah learning which is based upon their knowledge, their dedication, genius, spirituality, and which also relies to a certain extent on the scientific understanding of their time. They would be the first to tell you not to listen to their medical advice or knowledge of biology if modern science has proven otherwise. Fact is that they even often disagree with each other, so we’re not talking about absolute prophecy, but to a certain extent of Divine aid, which is still found, to a certain extent today by great rabbanim, such as Rav Mordechai Eliyahu. With love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat
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