|The following is a freely translated excerpt
from a letter by the Rebbe dated Sivan 25, 5712 (June 18,
... From your letter I surmise that you are an engineer,
though it is unclear to me whether your work involves the
construction of buildings or is in the field of measuring
distances or areas or the like. In any case, fundamental to
all of the above is the science of geometry. And what is one
of the things that the nature of this science can teach us?
Geometry has the characteristics of an exact science as well
as of an applied science. The same is true of our holy Torah
(lehavdil ad infinitum). For though the Torah is the
wisdom of G-d--the ultimate in truth and exactitude--and no
man can know its worth... and it is hidden from the eyes of
all living, nevertheless, as its name, Torah (from the word
horaah, instruction), implies, its
purpose is to instruct our daily lives in this physical and
material world. Thus, the difference between these two disciplines
(Torah and geometry) can enlighten us as to the fundamental
and infinite difference between the Torah, of which it is
said for it is your wisdom and understanding before
and the wisdom and understanding of the nations and also of
the intellect of the animal soul of the Jew.
All human sciences, including the exact sciences,
are founded upon axioms that are wholly unscientific. For
science, especially exact science, accepts only proven facts,
while the axioms of all sciences, mathematics and geometry
included, are not proven in any way, so that a person is free
to accept them or reject them. This is most apparent in the
science of geometry, which has three different systems, each
of which is founded upon a number of axioms, with the axioms
of one system being contradictory to the axioms of the others.
In other words, no science can present to a person anything
definite, only a series of contingencies. It can only say:
if you accept a number of axioms as true, and you accept a
particular method of deduction from them, the results will
be such and such.
There are two points here: a) It is the persons prerogative
whether to accept the axioms or not. b) Also in the case that
he does accept them, there is nothing to compel him
to act in a manner that is consistent with the results of
the particular method. For all the method says is, If
you act this way, the result will be such and such.
But if the person is willing to accept the adverse consequences,
there is nothing that compels him not to act in any
way he desires. In other words, science does not instruct
life, but only narrates--as a sort of fortune-teller--a sequence
of events, maintaining that according to past experience,
and based upon certain axioms which we fancy to accept as
true, things will unfold in such and such a manner.
Utterly different is our holy Torah. As the wisdom of the
Absolute Existence--the Almighty--it is absolute. Its axioms,
as well as the rules that dictate the manner in which laws
are to be derived from these axioms, are utterly true. And
since this is the wisdom of the Creator of the entire world,
man included, it is self-understood that these laws obligate
a person to act in concurrence with them, and in no other
This is one of the points that you, as a scientist, ought
to engrave in your mind: there can be no refutation of Torah
by science, since the Torah is absolute truth, while science
itself attests that it is not absolute, but dependent upon
the persons willful acceptance of certain givens; that
the science has full license to establish several contradictory
systems, all legitimized by the persons choice to accept
their axioms, as is the case with the three systems in geometry--the
Euclidean, Lobachevskian and Riemannian....
. Igrot Kodesh, vol. VI, pp. 145-146. See also Reshimot
#3, pp. 48-49; Likkutei Sichot, vol. II, p. 561.
. Deuteronomy 4:6; cf. Midrash Rabbah, Eicha 2:17:
If a person says to you, There is wisdom among
the nations, believe it; [but if a person says] There
is Torah among the nations, do not believe it.
. See Tanya, ch. 1, pp. 6-8.
. The best way to demonstrate the difference between
two things is to compare them at the points at which they
are most similar. So the science of geometry, which resembles
the Torah in that it is both an exact and applied science,
can best serve as the model that demonstrates the difference
between Torah and human wisdom.