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RAPHAEL SHUCHAT

R. Isaac Halevi Herzog’s Attitude to Evolution and His Correspondence with Immanuel Velikovsky

I n a previous article, I examined rabbinic attitudes towards scientific theories of cosmogony and evolution in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 1 The thinkers I discussed were Rabbis Israel

Lipshutz (author of the Tiferet Yisrael commentary on the Mishnah), Samson Raphael Hirsch, Eliyahu Benamozegh, Abraham Isaac Kook and Shem Tov Gefen. The common denominator between them was their attempt to synthesize the modern theories of cosmogony and evolution with rabbinic and biblical texts and their use of the theory of Sabbatical worlds—the midrashic and kabbalistic doctrine that God created earlier worlds before ours—to achieve this synthesis. I explained that the posi- tive attitude adopted by these rabbinic authorities resulted from the pro- found belief of rabbinic scholars throughout history that since science is a product of human reason, it is a legitimate source of knowledge. There was therefore a tendency to create a synthesis with science before doubt- ing the validity of a particular theory or claim. 2 Only if synthesis was

impossible was there an attempt to assess whether the particular theory had strayed from the path of objective reason and research.

RAPHAEL SHUCHAT is a lecturer in Jewish Philosophy at the Center for Jewish Studies at Bar-Ilan University as well as at the Rothberg School of the Hebrew University. His most recent book, A World Concealed in the Dimension of Time:

The Redemption According to the Vilna Gaon, was published by Bar-Ilan University in May 2008.

143 The Torah u-Madda Journal (15/2008-09)

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However, rabbinic scholars are not detached from the world around them. During periods of social turmoil, when the thinkers of the age begin to doubt the validity of the scientific order of the day, Jewish thinkers do so as well. The events of the Second World War proved both the supreme power of scientific technology as well as the threatening implications of the misuse of that power. The subconscious social impact of the atom bomb attacks on Japan and a war that used modern technology to claim millions of lives, cannot be underestimated. Although faith in science remained unscathed for the first decade and a half after the war and the scientific community emerged from the war with enhanced prestige, 3 these events planted the seed for the disillu- sionment with science that put it on the defensive in the 1960’s and 1970’s. 4 The technological boom of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to a belief in the omnipotence of science, and religious fundamentalist voices against the theory of evolution were stifled out of respect for science; 5 by the seventies, however, attacks on science gained legitimacy, and the popular reaction to science was now a mixture of enthusiastic support and profound mistrust. 6 In the Jewish world, a second element contributed to increased dis- dain for science. After the destruction of European Jewry, including all major institutions of Jewish learning and culture, Orthodox rabbinic leadership did everything possible to hold on to what remained and held suspect any new way of thinking that might pose some type of threat to religious survival. These feelings of suspicion towards all new ways of thinking became more manifest in the seventies, as society as a whole became critical of science. 7 In my previous article, I portrayed the enthusiasm among the rabbis of the nineteenth century towards the new scientific discoveries in cosmogony, but the post-war era brought about a different tone and attitude. The rabbinic authority of this period that I would like to discuss is R. Isaac Halevi Herzog (1888-1959), Chief Rabbi of the newly founded State of Israel. R. Herzog did not live into the 1960’s era in which rab- binic thinkers openly voiced criticism of the new scientific theories; he remained convinced of the authoritative position of modern science as the expression of objective human reason. Yet he lacked the enthusiasm of his predecessors for seeking a synthesis between Judaism and modern scientific cosmogony through midrashic and kabbalistic statements con- cerning earlier worlds. Perhaps it was his own scientific training that led him to feel that such an endeavor was apologetic in nature. Despite this reservation, he seems to have felt that the scientific community was too eager to utilize the theory of evolution as a tool for bashing religion, and

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he therefore turned specifically to a non-conformist scientist for assis- tance in solving the predicament. R. Herzog was born in Lomza, Poland. When he was a child, his family moved to Leeds, England, where his father accepted a rabbinical post. 8 He received private rabbinical ordination from Ridbaz, a well known authority in Palestine, as well as a Ph.D in Marine Biology from London University, where he wrote his dissertation on the subject “The Dyeing of Purple [Tekhelet] in Ancient Israel.” He held rabbinic posts in Ireland before becoming Chief Rabbi of Palestine in 1937. He wrote extensively on Talmud and Halakhah and was a scholar with a broad scope of interests. He also published works on the influence of Greek philosophy on Jewish thinkers, philosophy in the Talmud and Midrash, and many historical issues. 9 R. Herzog struggled with the issues of Judaism and the modern world, especially when the newborn State of Israel was involved. 10 He attempted to present the newly founded Israeli Parliament with a perspec- tive on Halakhah that would prove more palatable to the modern secular law makers of the Knesset, 11 especially concerning the laws of inheritance. 12 R. Herzog strove to find syntheses between Jewish faith and practice and new medical knowledge. 13 With his scientific background, he sided with the Maimonidean view that where the scientific views of the sages of old concerning the natural world conflict with modern science, we are obliged to accept the scientific views proven in our day; this is because the science of our sages was based not upon a tradition but upon the scientific knowledge of their own era. 14 Despite the fact that he elaborated upon the vast knowledge of the talmudic Sages in the sci- ences, their love for the exact sciences, and their being ahead of their time, 15 he remained of the opinion that issues of scientific matter are not under the authority of the Sages. To strengthen his position, R. Herzog quoted R. Abraham Maimoni, Maimonides’ son, who wrote: “It does not at all follow that because we bow to the authority of the sages of the Talmud in all that appertains to the interpretation of the Torah and its principles and details, we must accept unquestionably all their dicta on scientific matters, such as medicine, physics, and astronomy.” 16 R. Herzog sided with this view unequivocally. The Talmud states that a woman can sue for divorce if her husband refuses to have children with her. 17 R. Herzog lambasted a judge on the Israeli Rabbinical court who deprived a forty-year old woman of a divorce based on the talmudic assumption that a woman cannot bear children for the first time after age forty. 18 Relying on the opinion of a Jerusalem gyne- cologist who checked the woman and found her capable of child-bearing,

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he declared her eligible for the divorce and her ketubbah rights. In anoth- er case, where the rabbinic judge refused to accept a blood test to identify the father of a child based on the talmudic saying that the blood of a new- born is contributed by the mother, R. Herzog wrote:

Why must you doubt the credibility of the physicians in an issue that is obvious to all the great health scientists in the world? Our Sages of blessed memory do not mention anywhere that they received this in a tradition from Moses at Sinai; neither could this have happened, since in our day it has been proven beyond a doubt that this is not so. They [our Sages] accepted this as true and built laws upon it since Aristotle said it, and it became accepted among scholars worldwide; so then what differ- ence is there between [the validity of] science in their day or in ours? 19

There were, of course, Rabbinical Court judges who took issue with him, 20 but R. Herzog’s stand on these matters shows a strong leaning toward the Maimonidean school of thought. The above issues concern the conflict between modern science and

the scientific views of H azal, but the issue at hand is more significant, as

it refers to the possible contradiction between modern scientific theory and the basic biblical belief concerning the creation of the world. The problem of the new cosmogony bothered R. Herzog tremendously, and as a scientist he was not comfortable adopting the questionable doc- trine 21 of the Sabbatical worlds as a possible solution. His reservations regarding this explanation, however, were not due to its non-literal inter- pretation of the creation story; R. Herzog clearly held that the proper approach in reconciling contradictions between modern science and the basic Jewish belief in creation is that of reinterpretation. He reminds us of the Rabbinic claim that the creation story of Genesis is among the secrets of the Torah, making the text into one of an esoteric nature and not a text that should be interpreted literally. Bringing Maimonides as an example of the Jewish teachers of the Middle Ages, he writes:

They did not, in the first place, accept as true everything taught by Greek science and metaphysics. Take, for instance, the doctrine of the eternity of matter taught by Aristotle. Maimonides rejects this, not because it conflicts with the letter of the Torah, but because he is not convinced of its truth. Were he absolutely convinced that Aristotle’s position was immovable, he would reinterpret the words of the Torah accordingly, but as Aristotle could not really prove his case, Maimonides sees no reason for reinterpreting the Torah. 22

In my opinion, R. Herzog wished to know if the theory of evolution was an exact science or a theory open to interpretation. As he writes:

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Orthodoxy will not allow itself to be shaken by every scientific hypothesis launched into the world with much din and noise. It realizes that not everything taught in the name of science is really an established fact Even the widely accepted theory about the evolutionary descent of ani- mals, including man, has recently been challenged on purely scientific grounds by famous specialists, and notably Albert Fleischmann, an emi- nent zoologist. 23

R. Herzog saw value in the evolutionary theory in that it vindicates the Torah’s teaching of the “organic unity and symmetry of the cosmos,” 24 but he suspected that the theory of evolution may have varied interpre- tations. He therefore turned for assistance to a non-conformist Jewish scientist in Princeton, New Jersey, Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky, after hear- ing that this scientist’s theory of cosmogony claimed that the Solar sys- tem has undergone significant changes in just a few thousand years. The letters between them have never been published before. The correspon- dence includes six letters exchanged between the two men from July to December of 1953, and then an additional three letters from 1956. Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979) was a controversial writer of cos- mogony and history. 25 Educated in Edinburgh and Moscow (M.D. 1921), he practiced medicine in Palestine and then studied psychology in Zurich and Vienna. He moved to the United States in 1939 and studied ancient traditions of the Jews and peoples from around the world. In his book Worlds in Collision (1950), he proposed that the ancient legends were describing true events of physical catastrophes that pushed forward the process of evolution. When Velikovsky experienced animosity from the scientific community in response to his work, he published another book, Earth in Upheaval (1955), to prove his claims through geology. Velikovsky made many attempts to justify his theories in the eyes of the scientific community, but to little avail. Only a few researchers gave him the credit due when some of his predictions turned out to be correct. 26 In 1955, he wrote a work titled Before the Day Breaks, describing the discussions he had with Albert Einstein about his theories. The book, left in manuscript form, was finally published by his elder daughter in Hebrew in 1995. From Einstein’s courteous but non-accepting replies, one can almost feel the desperation in Velikovsky’s desire to be recognized and accepted. 27 Despite their lack of acceptance by the scientific community, and although he remained controversial, Velikovsky’s theories gained signifi- cant popularity among the general public, which would explain why R. Herzog wrote to him. 28 It is also possible that Velikovsky’s background as a Zionist and former citizen of Palestine made him seem more approachable to R. Herzog.

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In his letters, R. Herzog related that he heard that, according to Velikovsky’s theory, major changes in the solar system took place over the course of just a few thousand years, and he asked whether this is in harmony with the biblical understanding of creation.

I have recently received your two volumes, [Worlds in Collision and Ages

in Chaos] which I have begun to

Setting out from the staunch

belief that the Torah is of super-human, divine origin, I have become deeply interested in archaeology and anthropology. How can the Torah chronology be scientifically defended, in view of the eons which science postulates for the existence of man upon this earth? 29

It is interesting that R. Herzog seems unaware of R. Kook’s perspective on scientific evolution, 30 despite the fact that he took over the latter’s position as Chief Rabbi of Palestine. 31 He does, however, mention the doctrine of previous worlds as explained by R. Lipschutz:

There is, of course, the well known midrash that [God was] “boneh olamot

u-mah arivan,” but this can only help if we assume that “mah arivan” does

not mean annihilation, so that we can assume that fossils of man asserted

by science to be many hundreds of thousands of years old are relics of a previous earth. Yet anthropology seems to assert upon internal evidence that the present man is already hundreds of thousands of years old! 32

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R. Herzog’s understanding of mah arivan as meaning “lays waste” (as

opposed to “annihilates”) seems to imply that he was familiar with R. Israel Lipschutz’s essay on this matter, although his question about that theory suggests that he was not familiar with R. Kook’s letter to Moshe Seidel. 33 R. Herzog also asked Velikovsky whether it is logical to speak of a universe that is less than six thousand years old. “Would the numbers of the human race and the technical perfection—writing, etc.—not militate in your opinion against the acceptance of a of less than six thousand years

date for man here?” 34 Velikovsky answered him promptly with an intro- ductory letter, declaring that any discussion on the issue of science and religion requires the abandonment of all dogmatic beliefs, except the first postulate.

Actually, the Jewish religion has only one basic postulate of faith—the existence of a Divine creator. This is also a postulate in science—the First Cause. This is the only dogma that we should accept, and the acceptance of any other dogma next to this would be a detriment. 35

Velikovsky claimed that since science and religion both search for truth, there should not be any conflict between them.

With this preliminary, I can assure you, Rabbi, that it gave me a very great

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pleasure to give a detailed verification to Biblical texts in my two books: a proof from many independent sources that the miracles of the Bible, always in the presence of many witnesses, were not inventions, but natural phenomena under unusual circumstances (“Worlds in Collision”); and a proof from archaeological documents that the Biblical details, as well as the general historical scheme, are of a superb historical veracity (“Ages in .”

However, he added: “If I found an erroneous statement or a deliberate change of an original text, I have not spared the Bible.” 36 He argued that the traditional Hebrew date of creation should not be seen as a dogma either, and he used the midrashic tradition of earlier worlds as a proof.

Our sages of former ages, long before the theory of evolution, had a very liberal interpretation of worlds created and destroyed. Even from the point of ascribing certain parts of the Scriptures to a Divine revelation, we should not enlarge the area by attributing also those parts that are not of the nature of revelation (like the genealogy of Noah) to such an origin; otherwise we may easily be led into beliefs that will not stand the test of reason—and what has the Divine Creator created more sublime than thinking matter and reason? 37

Velikovsky wrote that in his forthcoming book, Earth in Upheaval, he would discuss a short period of evolution, although one longer than just a few thousand years. Puzzled by R. Herzog’s worries over evolution, he added an interesting point.

It was the Catholic Church that opposed Darwinism, and the Jewish syn- agogue did not spend too much emotion in opposing evolution. For the Church, believing in the Son of God being born of a woman, would abhor to worship the descendant of an ape. 38

Velikovsky makes an important point here about the psychological ele- ment of Christian opposition to the theory of evolution. Did Jewish critics adopt this attitude from their Christian colleagues? Velikovsky’s point concerning the weakness of Jewish resistance to evolutionary the- ory is also valid. After all, R. Hirsch suggested that Judaism believes that God created the world, but this does not mean that we know how He did it. Why, then, would it matter if it were done through evolution or through spontaneous creation? 39 R. Herzog made no comment on Velikovsky’s points; he was more interested in receiving an answer to his two queries. He therefore reiterat- ed them in his next letter, 40 where he once again asked whether the bibli- cal chronology of man is possible. More specifically, he wanted to know whether all living humans could have descended from Noah in less than

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five thousand years. He also asked again how one could explain early human fossils; R. Herzog entertains the possibility of explaining them as part of earlier worlds that God created and destroyed. However, he does not dismiss the possibility that they are part of this world, in which case we would be forced to reinterpret the literal biblical story of creation:

A man-fossil declared to be several hundred thousand years old, even if

the age be correct, may be a fossilized relic of a former Adam belonging

to a previously settled earth. (Of course, we assume that mah arivan here

does not mean annihilation, but only laying waste.) We will not bring in

dogmatism. Our belief in the Divine inspiration of the Torah will be

made more difficult, but will not be necessarily destroyed, if the chronol- ogy for man even of the present earth is untenable. Just as ayin tah at ayin [“an eye for an eye”] is differently interpreted

[i.e., non-literally interpreted as monetary compensation; see Bava Kamma

83b-84a], so can Genesis in connection with the origins of man. 41

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R. Herzog displayed a very liberal approach to biblical exegesis in issues where science and biblical texts seem to be at odds. However, as we mentioned above, he was willing to go this road only if absolutely necessary. 42 Velikovsky, who was involved in open warfare with the sci- entific community, readily acknowledged that “science is also guilty of dogmatic thinking,” 43 and went on to say that many American scientists of his day would have dismissed R. Herzog’s questions by saying that “there was no deluge; [that] the origin of man goes back one million years; [and that] the book of Genesis is completely wrong on all prob- lems of geology, prehistory, and natural science.” 44 He added that in his forthcoming book he would prove that many millennia ago the earth was covered by a flood.

If you are inclined to regard the few survivors as the beginners of the human

race—you have found the synthesis of science and religion that you seek. And then you may regard the human bones of earlier ages as of the devastat- ed world—never completely destroyed. This would of course substitute the idea of the sages for the literal meaning of the story of creation. 45

Velikovsky only partially answered R. Herzog’s question about the growth of humankind since the deluge. After an additional letter asking for clarification, 46 Velikovsky offered a more detailed answer. He began by explaining why he thought scientists would have to rethink the age of humanity, and he went on to claim that in his book, Earth in Upheaval, he would prove that a flood must have taken place between five and ten thousand years ago.

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You have asked: If the deluge took place only five thousand years ago, how may one explain the present number of human beings (over two billion)? I would regard the story of Noah and his ark as a piece of folklore that

in a primitive and fanciful way tells a tale that could have some substratum

in

sands or in hundreds only

re-peopling of the earth in the space of five or ten thousand years. 47

there would be no intrinsic difficulty in the

Assuming that the number of survivors were counted in thou-

Velikovsky quoted an article that described a tenfold population growth in Latin America in one century. Based on this, he argued:

Now let us assume a moderate growth; not ten times but only double at

the end of a century or after four generations. If for the sake of argument there were only two survivors (male and female) following a near- destruction of the human kind, there would be four human beings after one century, 16 after three centuries and ca. 200 after six centuries; until after 52 centuries there should be 20 million billion; or ten million

So why do we not have so

times more people than there actually

many? Epidemics and wars took their tolls in great numbers; nature a few times decimated the human population as well. As you see, the popula- tion numbers constitute no argument against a near annihilation of the

human race

five to ten thousand years ago. 48

Velikovsky answered the question about population growth and even suggested that the age of mankind should be reconsidered. He goes on to explain that there are no alphabets older than 3300 years and even hieroglyphic scripts are no more than 4500-5000 years old, therefore continuing the argument that humankind may be only 5000 years old:

You ask me also to explain whether the invention of writing could have been accomplished in a few thousand years. Actually, the oldest alphabet- ic writings found go back far less that 3300 years (consider the chronolo- gy as offered in “Ages in Chaos”; in the second volume of that work I will deal in detail with the earliest alphabetic writings); and syllabic writings and also hieroglyphic scripts are not older than ca. 4500-5000 years. 49

This final letter of December 1953 addresses all of R. Herzog’s ques- tions from July 1952. Velikovsky explained that according to his research the deluge was an historical fact that happened five to ten thousand years ago and that the earth was repopulated in that time. He also explained that alphabets developed during that period. However, he did not seem to address the question of the age of the universe or of the evolution of human beings. In my opinion he did this consciously. In fact, in the final paragraph of the letter he hints at a possible solution to the age of humankind and of the universe without explaining it clearly:

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If I have, Rabbi, answered here a few of the questions that you have per- sistently put before me, I do not claim to know the plan of the Creator; only I regard as very significant that races did not survive from the begin- ning, neither their evolution was always slow. New species developed evolved by mutations. And mutations require a different time scale for the creation of a new species than evolution by natural selection. 50

Here Velikovsky is explaining in a nutshell some of the ideas that R. Herzog wanted to hear, but in an extremely concentrated form. Veli- kovsky argues in his writings that the evolutionary process could not have been a gradual process. The mutations which created new life forms had to be caused by catastrophic incidents which sped up the process. This is true concerning both the universe and humankind. In a first draft of this letter to R. Herzog, which can be found among his writings, one can see his deliberation as to what he should write. In the draft, he described this last issue more clearly, explaining that a much shorter stretch of time is needed if we assume catastrophic events inter- vened in the line of geological formation as well as in the evolution of the animal kingdom. He also goes as far as quoting a talmudic source which states that two stars parted from Khima, causing the deluge, and explains that Khima refers to the planet Saturn, which connects well with his theory of the cause of the deluge. 51 I think that Velikovsky left this out and conveyed his main theory only in a vague way, since he was already under attack by the scientific community, which claimed he was more popular than scientific; therefore, he did not want to be seen as one who writes in order to solve the problems of religion and science but rather as one whose objective research might also by chance be of interest to those who believe in the biblical texts. This is clear from the letter Velikovsky sent to R. Herzog two years later, after Earth in Upheaval was published. Now that his theories were published in a work that he felt substantiated them scientifically, he was more open to dis- cuss the issues of science and religion with R. Herzog.

Two years ago we have exchanged letters; You have asked me to explain some conflicting ideas in the scriptures and in the modern teaching of the origin of man and the earth, and I, probably without much success, tried to say that the views in science are going to change and to decrease the chasm between science and the Mosaic tradition. By the time this let- ter reaches you, my new book, “Earth in Upheaval,” may already be in your possession: I have instructed Doubleday and Co., my publisher, to mail you a copy. I trust that you will find there some of the answers you were looking for. 52

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Now that Velikovsky had substantiated his claims scientifically, he felt more open to the discussions on science and the Bible. He realized that he had been quite brief with R. Herzog in his correspondence two years prior and hoped the book will fill the gap. R. Herzog wrote in his reply:

“I have not found the passages where you deal with the problem of nat- ural science and Genesis. Kindly therefore send me a list enumerating the respective passages dealing with that great and grave problem.” 53 From R. Herzog’s answer it is obvious he did not see the previous corre- spondence as solving the problem. However, in his final letter, Veli- kovsky states his position in greater clarity.

Let me say that the book in its entirety deals with this problem, mostly by inference. The conflict between science and tradition became actual and acute in the dispute that arose following the publication of Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”. In the 98 years since then, the scientific material was accumulating that renders the theory of evolution based on the theory of uniformity untenable. The Darwinian evolution required often millions of years where only hours or days of cataclysmic events were in action. Even with hundreds of millions of years at the disposal of evolution, no new species could evolve; and none evolved among animals since scientif- ic observations were made; by mere competition (the Malthusian princi- ple) no origin of species can be procreated; but violent reactions (thermal or radiant) can create new species. 54

Velikovsky openly takes issue with gradual evolution as proposed by Darwin a century before him. His theory, as explained in Earth in Upheaval, presents a planet earth as well as humankind as being created through cataclysmic events which happened within a few thousand years. What about the universe at large?

How, then, the history of the world looks in this new concept? The uni- verse is very old, may be without beginning. 55 The earth in its present shape is very recent. The earth went through many violent disturbances, the geological record of which is presented in my book, and which you may regard as boneh olamot u-mah arivan. One of these destructions was

.

the deluge, less than eight or seven thousand years ago. 56

Velikovsky claims that the earth and humankind can be explained in a way which is not too different from the traditional Jewish chronology. Concerning the universe, one has to say that it is much older. Therefore, the use of the midrashic idea of previous worlds that predated our world can be used if one wants to create harmony between science and Judaism concerning the age of the universe at large. 57

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The exchange of letters stops at this point. We do not know what R, Herzog thought of Velikovky’s answers to his queries from 1952. Was R. Herzog comfortable adopting the doctrine of the destroyed worlds (or worlds laid waste)—a theory abandoned in the latter half of the twentieth century for the second time in Jewish history—to explain the age of the universe? 58 We quoted him above as saying that one can reinterpret a bib- lical text if science necessitates such a move for the sake of harmony, but only if it is based on an unshaken proof. I wonder if R. Herzog’s discus- sion with Velikovsky was based on his feeling that the theory of evolution lacked the stability of a scientific truth, and he therefore turned toward an unconventional scientist to ascertain if he was right in this regard. In conclusion, as I mentioned in my earlier essay, the rabbinic authorities living in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries viewed the geological discoveries of their day as a challenge to be dealt with, but never as a threat. Some of them, such as Rabbis Lipschutz and Ben- amozegh, 59 actually greeted these discoveries with great enthusiasm, viewing them as a confirmation of the ancient midrashim that spoke of the worlds that predated our own. Others, such as Rabbis Gefen, Hirsch, and Kook, saw these scientific discoveries as a challenge, but felt that they had created a perfect synthesis between the new theories and authentic Jewish traditions. The concept of evolution was seen as a greater challenge than the geological discoveries, but it was nevertheless dealt with as a problem that lent itself to a satisfying solution. At times, as in the writings of R. Kook, evolutionary theory was greeted with great enthusiasm as a way to illuminate ancient kabbalistic doctrines. R. Herzog, writing in the mid-twentieth century, displayed the dis- comfort that many later rabbinic figures were to have with the theory of evolution. This discomfort was caused not just by the challenge that evolutionary theory posed to biblical exegesis, but by the fact that it was considered the flagship of secular scientific thought, which was trying to fight all organized religion. Eventually, the rabbis of the second half of the twentieth century began, like their Christian counterparts, to see the theory of evolution as a threat; as Orthodox Jews entered the arena of secular studies, these rabbis too entered the battle against evolution. Now, however, they argued not from a biblical or talmudic point of view, but rather from a scientific perspective, viewing those who opposed evolution as their comrades in arms. Was this a superfluous battle on someone else’s territory? Why were the syntheses drawn up by Rabbis Lipschutz, Benamozegh, Hirsch, and Kook so quickly forgotten? Obviously, as R. Kook already pointed out, the answer to this question has more to do with politics and society than it does with exegesis. 60

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The Correspondence

The few Hebrew words in the original text have been transliterated. Bracketed words are editorial insertions. Spelling errors have been corrected in brackets. — R.S.

16 th July, 1953

Dear Dr. Velikovsky,

I have recently received your two volumes, which I have begun to read. So far, however, I have only barely touched the fringes. Please accept my warmest thanks! Setting out from the staunch belief that the Torah is of super human divine origin, I have become deeply interested in archaeology and anthropology. How can the Torah chronology be scientifically defended, in view of the aeons which science postulates for the existence of man upon this earth? There is, of course, the well known Midrash, “boneh olamot u-mah arivan” [Gen. Rabbah 3:7, Eccl. Rabbah 3:11], but this can only

help if we assume that “mah arivan” does not mean annihilation, so that

we can assume that fossils of man asserted by science to be so many hundreds of thousands of years old are relics of a previous earth. Yet anthropology seems to assert upon internal evidence that the present man is already hundreds of thousands of years old! Nevertheless, Aldus Huxley speaks of 12,000 years as the age of civi- lized man upon this earth. Even this is far too much for Torah chronolo- gy (less than six thousand years). It has been tried to fix 6,000 as the age since the discovery by man of agriculture. Of course, strictly literal inter- pretation of the Pentateuchal text is out of the question. But super liter- ary interpretation should be resorted to only when reason absolutely rules the literary sense being utterly impossible. I have been correspond- ing on this subject with an anthropologist Dr. Carter of Baltimore, MD, who still owes me an answer. By the way, I see in your Epilogue to Volume I that you are satisfied that the planets and their satellites are only a few thousand years old. Do you then accept the Torah chronology literally? Are you then, at least not convinced from the internal evidence of the history of man upon the earth, that man has been here for already millions of years? Would the numbers of the human race and its technical perfec- tion—writing, etc.— not militate, in your opinion against the accep- tance of a less than six thousand years date for man here?

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Please write me at length your views and impressions! I shall be happy to correspond with you. In the meantime I shall carry forward the reading of your most interesting books. I have many kushyot already, but it is still too early for that. Thanking you in anticipation.

(Princeton, New Jersey) July 30, 1953

His Eminence Dr. Isaac Herzog Chief Rabbi of Israel Jerusalem

Dear Rabbi Herzog:

Sincerely yours, Isaac Halevi Herzog Chief Rabbi of Israel

When I was told that you have asked your son to bring you from America my two books, I was very honored and have provided the books. Now I am pleased to have a letter from you with your views on the conflict between the Mosaic tradition and the findings of geology, and your invitation to correspond with you. In order to create a language for a fruitful discussion, I would sug- gest that dogmatic beliefs in science or religion should not serve us in arguments. Actually, the Jewish religion has only one basic postulate of faith: the existence of a Divine Creator. This is also a postulate in sci- ence: the First Cause. This is the only dogma that we should accept; and the acceptance of any other dogma, next to this, would be a detriment. Science and religion have the same goal: search for truth. Therefore, there should be no conflict between science and religion. If there is, then one of the two erred from the truth. With this preliminary, I can assure you, Rabbi, that it gave me a very great pleasure to give a detailed verifi- cation to Biblical texts in my two books: a proof from many indepen- dent sources that the miracles of the Bible, always in the presence of many witnesses, were not inventions, but natural phenomena under

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unusual circumstances (“Worlds in Collision”); and a proof from archaeological documents that the Biblical details, as well as the general historical scheme, are of a superb historical veracity, even to the extent of the truthfulness of spoken dialogues or monologues (“Ages in Chaos,” esp. the chapter on El Amarna). But at the same time, if I found an erroneous statement or a deliberate change of the original text, I have not spared the Bible. When in Jerusalem the Third Wall was unearthed, and by this made the traditional place of the Holy Sepulcher look spurious, high ecclesias- tics of a Christian faith made the successful efforts that the wall should be covered again by earth. We, Jews, should not act like this; and in con- flict of faith and truth, should take the side of truth. Therefore, in a conflict between the Scriptures and geology, we should not be obstinate and insist that whatever should be discovered, we cannot part with our faith—our dogma—that the world is less than six thousand years old. Our sages of former ages, long before the battle around the theory of evolution, had very liberal interpretation of worlds created and destroyed. Even from the point of ascribing certain parts of the Scriptures to a Divine revelation, we should not enlarge the area by attributing also those parts which are not of the nature of revelation (like the genealogy of Noah) to such an origin; otherwise we may easily be led into beliefs that will not stand the test of reason—and what has the Divine Creator created more sublime than thinking matter and reason? In my forthcoming book, “Earth in Upheaval,” on which I work now, I shall present a very radical change in our understanding of geo- logical and paleontological processes. The chronology that attributed millions of years to certain finds will be shown to be of a few thousand years only. For the world dominated by the principle of uniformity, mil- lions of years were required, where in catastrophic circumstances only a few years would suffice: think of the coal formation in the burning log and in the process of slow metamorphosis. This future book, I know, will give you satisfaction, and will also answer some of the questions you have raised in your letter. However, I would be very far from defending the notion that the creation is only a few thousand years old. I also do not see how the idea of a God is helped by such limitations in time and space. It was the Catholic Church that opposed Darwinism, and the Jewish Synagogue did not spend too much emotion in opposing evolution. For the Church, believing in the Son of God being born of a woman, would abhor to worship a descendant of an ape. The planets and the Universe are great and old; in the Epilogue to “Worlds in

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Collision,” that you mention in your letter, I referred only to the recent- ness of the celestial order, and to the arrival of one planet (Venus), thus showing the manner in which the planetary bodies originated. In “Earth in Upheaval” I shall offer a picture of the geological past that will rehabilitate the story of the great catastrophes of the Book of Genesis; however, I worked in this field not with the intent to prove the Bible right. From the beginning I made it clear to myself that I cannot serve religion and science in two different ways: there is only one truth of which you and I and many others are humble seekers. With all respect and with good wishes, Rabbi, for your well-being,

Immanuel Velikovsky

31 August, 1953

Dr. Emmanuel Velikovsky 4 Hartley Avenue Princeton, New Jersey U.S.A.

Dear Dr. Velikovsky:

Many thanks for your kind reply. I hope to write to you several times yet. For the present, kindly reply to the following question. From your amazing knowledge of ancient history, do you think that the Biblical chronology is totally contrary to human reason? Remember that when you take into account the Deluge there is only practically about five thousand years left since the creation of Adam, for at the Deluge only Noah and a few persons remained. Can this be thought compatible with the present numbers of the human race—even with more or less frequent plagues and destructions by wars and mass-accidents? Can thus the progress of mankind be accounted for, the various inventions, writing or recording in its various forms, etc., the spreading of humani- ty all over the globe from one centre? Or shall we assume that a special providence watched over humanity and thus accelerated what otherwise would have taken hundreds of thousands of years? Is the Biblical chronology utterly impossible, inherently absurd? Remember that the

saying of our sages “boneh olamot u-mah arivan” does not affect the case.

.

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A man-fossil declared to be several hundred thousand years old, even if

the age be correct, may be a fossilized relic of a former Adam belonging

to a previously settled earth. (Of course, we assume that mah arivan does

not mean annihilation but only laying waste.) We will not bring in dog- matism. Our belief in the Divine inspiration of the Torah will be made more difficult, but will not be necessarily destroyed, if the chronology for man even of the present earth is untenable.

.

Just as ayin tah at ayin [“an eye for an eye”] is differently interpreted

[i.e., non-literally interpreted as monetary compensation; see Bava Kamma 83b-84a], so can Genesis in connection with the origins of man. Awaiting your kind reply, with anticipatory thanks.

.

Sincerely yours, Isaac Halevi Herzog Chief Rabbi of Israel

P.S. The Pentateuch itself records an alteration by Divine Prov- idence in the span of life from centuries to barely 120 years which shows that in the Biblical view not only catastrophic changes could be wrought by Providence, but also permanent alterations.

(Princeton, New Jersey) September 14, 1953

His Eminence Dr. Isaac Herzog Chief Rabbi of Israel Jerusalem

Dear Rabbi Herzog:

I.H.

In my first letter I have stressed the freedom from dogmas as a pre- requisite of a fruitful discussion. You have accepted this approach. Now I may say that the conflict between ancient traditions that became a part of a religious credo and the notions of the present day science is not a result of a dogmatic thinking only in religion; science is also guilty of

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dogmatic thinking, and sometimes, even to a greater degree.

Would you have addressed the questions of your first and second letters to any one else among the scientists of the United States, I believe that, with the exception of George McCready Price, everyone would have answered you: There was no deluge; the origin of man goes back one million years; the book of Genesis is completely wrong on all prob- lems of geology, prehistory, and natural sciences in general. Such an answer would be in harmony with the dogma of uniformity, or the assumption that by the minute daily processes of our times we can explain all geological and biological changes in the past of the globe.

I believe to be able to establish—in the forthcoming volumes—that

not many millennia ago the earth was covered by flood. If you are inclined to regard the few survivors as the beginners of human race— you have found the synthesis of science and religion that you seek. And then you may regard human bones of earlier ages as of the devastated world—never completely destroyed. This would of course substitute the idea of the sages for the literal meaning of the story of creation.

I would also draw your attention to the material assembled in

“Worlds in Collision”—I trust that you have found time to start reading this book: the days of the Exodus saw one of those great upheavals that would approach the idea of “mah ariv olamoth.”

If in the past there were events of catastrophic nature encompassing

the world, the geological formations, like those of Pliocene (late

Tertiary) that are ascribed to millions of years ago, most probably were deposited only thousands, not even tens of thousands, years ago. The fields of paleontology, geology, anthropology, and archaeology in American and in Europe, and in other parts of the world, came repeatedly into unsolvable conflicts among themselves when finds were made of paleontological and archaeological materials side by side.

I am certainly looking forward to your further inquiries and ideas, and I wish you a happy and healthy New Year. Respectfully yours,

.

Immanuel Velikovsky

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25 th Oct., 1953

Dr. Emanuel Velikowsky c/o The University, Princeton, U.S.America

Dear Dr. Velikovsky,

I thank you very much for your kind second letter. However, either you are too brief, or my mind is not sufficiently bright. Suppose now that your two volumes in which you confirm the Deluge as a fact had already appeared, in how far would they affect the problem? If you accept the Pentateuchal chronology, it would still be a matter of only some 5,000 years since the deluge in which only a few humans were saved. Would that be scientifically sufficient to account for the numbers of the human race, for its distribution all over the globe, for the progress of civilization, the art of writing, etc.? Would you be prepared to accept that Adam, the first Man of the present world, was already an accomplished artisan etc. at the moment when he was creat- ed some 5714 years ago. Or would you take it that God interposed all the while, seeing to it that the race move from place to place and quickly spread all over the globe, and inspiring human beings with a knowledge of the arts etc., and multiplying its numbers inordinately. Or must we accept it that the human race had been here as a continuous chain already hundreds of thousands of years? If so, we would have to reinter- pret the Book of Genesis! Please remember that were it nor for our Pentateuchal extremely short chronology which issues from the Biblical data directly, science would hardly be a disturbing fact. All the human fossils supposed to be millions of years old, we would attach to the world which had preceded the present world by millions of years and which were not annihilated, but only destroyed by the Creator, as I have already explained in my pre- vious letters. Pray write plainly even if it takes you much more time. I should be very deeply obliged.

With kindest regards. Sincerely yours,

Isaac Halevi Herzog Chief Rabbi of Israel

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(Princeton, New Jersey) December 23, 1953

His Eminence Dr. Isaac Herzog Chief Rabbi of Israel Jerusalem

Dear Rabbi Herzog:

In your letters to me you have shown the willingness to find a suit-

able interpretation for those parts of the Scriptures in which the letter contradicts the findings of science. In reply I stressed that science, too, is dominated by beliefs established on authorities. I wish that the priests in the temple of science were as willing to part with the dogmas as you, in the true Jewish spirit, proved yourself when it appeared that written tra- dition and scientific finds occasionally contradict one another. You have asked me in your letters: Are not the Creation of man six thousand years ago and the Deluge, less than five thousand years ago, in conflict with the findings of physical and cultural anthropology? I would assume that the history of man goes back for ages I would not attempt to compute. The presently current view that man evolved in a species one million years ago, with the beginning of Pleistocene (Ice Age), will certainly undergo revision, already because the division into ages and periods as we know them now, is a heritage of the uniformitar- ian teaching of the Nineteenth century. This teaching assumed that the natural processes were only of a slow evolution; that Tertiary was the age of mammals and mountain building; that Pleistocene was the age of climatic changes and tectonic calmness; and that the Recent was the time of tectonic calmness and climatic stability. But we know by now that mountain building went on during the Pleistocene and the Recent period; and climatic catastrophes took place only a few thousand years ago (about -1500 and -800). The geological divisions will require a reshaping, and in such reshaping the million years of man’s history will certainly take a very different length. Nature, actually, went through great paroxysms, and these cataclysms changed the face of the earth and the composition of the animal kingdom. If you have already read my Worlds in Collision, you may see that our earth was on the brink of destruction in the days of the Exodus from Egypt. And the Deluge was one of the earlier manifestations of what our sages may have regarded and [as] h urban olam.

.

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On the basis of my research in various fields of science, I came to the conclusion that Deluge was an historical event of global character; it was caused by extraterrestrial agents which can be identified; it occurred between five and ten thousand years ago—from the geological point of view—recently to an extreme degree. You have asked: If a Deluge took place only five thousand years ago, how to explain the present number of human beings (over two billion)? The Deluge having been of global dimensions, the great majority of ani- mal life was destroyed. However, I would regard the story of Noah and his ark as a piece of folklore that in a primitive and fanciful way tells a tale that could have some substratum in fact, as usually the folklore has, but that should not be, because of this, counted as a historical event. The survivors in men and animals were exceedingly few; the memory of earlier events was almost completely erased wherever human race sur- vived; and mutations in organic life, following the deluge, were numer- ous and manifold. Assuming that the number of human survivors was counted in thousands or hundreds only, though we cannot accept such small fig- ures as necessarily true, there would be no intrinsic difficulty in the repeopling of the earth in the space of five or ten thousand years. To illustrate this let me quote from the Science News Letter of October 24 of this year. “The population of Latin America, including the West Indies, will triple in 47 years, if the present growth rate continues,” and this sig- nifies that it may become ten fold after one century. Now let us assume a much [more] moderate rate of growth; not ten times but only double at the end of a century, or after four generations. If for the sake of argument, there were only two survivors (male and female) following a near-destruction of the human kind, there would be four human beings after one century, 16 after three centuries, and ca. 200 after six centuries; after six hundred more years there would be one hundred times more—or 20,000; after 18 centuries—two million; after 24 centuries, 200 million’ after 32 centuries, 20 billion; and so on, until after 52 centuries there should be 20 million billion, or ten million times more people than there actually are (I use the term billion in American sense: 1,000 millions). So why we do not have so many? Epidemics and wars took their tolls in great numbers; nature a few times decimated the human popula- tion, too. As you see, the population numbers constitute no argument against a near annihilation of the human race (accomplished by an actual annihilation of many races of animal kingdom) five or ten thou- sand years ago.

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You ask me also to explain whether the invention of writing could have been accomplished in a few thousand years. Actually, the oldest alphabetic writings found go back for less than 3,300 years (consider the chronology as offered in “Ages in Chaos”; in the second volume of that work I will deal in detail with the earliest alphabetic writings); and syl- labic writings and also hieroglyphic scripts are not older than ca. 4500- 5000 years. It should be noted that the haggadic legend has – in Josephus’ wording (Antiquities I,2,3)—a prediluvian use of written characters. If I have, Rabbi, answered here a few of the questions that you have persistently put before me, I do not claim to know the plan of the Creator; only I regard as very significant that races did not survive from the beginning, neither their evolution was always slow. New species evolved by mutations. And mutations require a different time scale for the creation of new species than evolution of natural selection.

I like to believe that this answer, though touching but a few of the

questions involved in the great nexus of problems, will clarify the thoughts on those problems where many sciences, but also religion, are

intermeshed.

I would like to hear again from you and shall gladly reply. I have not

hurried to answer you this time, because you have asked me to give time and thought to my reply, and I wished to do this when no pressing mat- ter was with me. If there should occur for me some scientific opportuni- ty, like a lecture tour for visiting Israel in the summer or spring, I shall be very happy to know you personally and elaborate in more detail on the questions discussed here.

Very sincerely yours, Immanuel Velikovsky

P.S. I live in Princeton, but I am not on the teaching staff of the University here.

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165

(Princeton, New Jersey) December 6, 1955

His Eminence Dr. Isaac Herzog Chief Rabbi of Israel Jerusalem

Dear Rabbi Herzog:

Two years ago we have exchanged letters: You have asked me to explain some conflicting ideas in the Scriptures and in the modern teaching of the origin of man on earth, and I, probably without much success, tried to say that the views in science are going to change and to decrease the chasm between science and Mosaic tradition. By the time this letter reaches you, my new book, “Earth in Upheaval,” may already be in your possession: I have instructed Doubleday and Co., my pub- lisher, to mail you a copy. I trust that you will find there some of the answers you were looking for. It makes me pleased to know, dear Rabbi, that with this delay of two years, I am able to answer your inquiry at some detail. The present volume deals only with natural sciences. Another volume, “The Deluge,” will follow, if my plans will materialize, in about two years; it will deal with folklore as well as natural sciences.

December 19, 1955

Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky 78 Hartley Avenue Princeton, NJ U. S. A.

Dear Dr. Velikovsky,

Very cordially, Immanuel Velikovsky

Thanks for your kind letter of the 6th instant [6th of this month]. Your book has not yet reached me, but my son Chayim has present- ed me with it on the occasion of my birthday last Wednesday.

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I have not found the passages where you deal with the problem of natural science and Genesis. Kindly therefore send me a list enumerating the respective passages dealing with that great and grave problem. With many thanks,

January 5, 1956

Dr. Isaac Halevi Herzog Chief Rabbi of Israel Jerusalem, Israel.

Dear Rabbi Herzog:

Very sincerely yours,

Isaac Halevy Herzog Chief Rabbi of Israel.

You ask me to indicate in my new book (“Earth in Upheaval”) those passages which reflect on the “great and grave problem” of a discord between the biblical and the scientific beliefs. Let me say that the book in its entirety deals with this problem, mostly by inference. The conflict between science and tradition became actual and acute in the dispute that arouse [arose] following the publi- cation of Darwin's “The Origin of Species.” In the 96 years since then, scientific material was accumulating that renders the theory of evolu- tion based on the theory of uniformity untenable. The Darwinian evo- lution required often millions of years where only hours or days of cata- clysmic events were in action. Even with hundreds of millions of years at the disposal of evolution, no new species could evolve; and none evolved among animals since sci- entific observations were made; by mere competition (the Malthusian principle) no origin of species can be procreated; but violent reactions (thermal or radiant) can create new species. How, then, the history of the world looks [does the history of the world look] in this new concept? The universe is very old, may be with- out beginning. The earth in its present shape is very recent: the earth

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went through many violent disturbances, the geological record of which is presented in my book, and which you may regard as olamot she- neh revu [destroyed worlds]. One of these destructions was the Deluge,

less than eight or seven thousand years ago. Closer to our time was the decimation of the human kind and annihilation of many species in the days of the Exodus, in the middle of the second millennium before the common era. When you read carefully “Earth in Upheaval” you may realize that the Tertiary which is supposed to be pre-human, actually endured into early historical times, coinciding with the vicissitudes of the Pleistocene, and with the cataclysmic events of the Recent. Therefore the geological age of man needs a radical revision. I wish to believe that these few hints will induce you, dear Rabbi, to read my book in its proper order. Then, if there should remain any questions you will like to ask I will be only very glad to do my utmost in order to satisfy you.

.

Very cordially, [Immanuel Velikovsky]

Notes

I received a copy of the letters in 1981 from R. Moshe Bleicher, who received

them from Velikovsky’s granddaughter. The letters can be viewed at the Israel National Library in Jerusalem, Manuscripts archive, Arc 4˚ 1612, roll 5. I would like to thank Mrs. Ruth Velikovsky Sharon and Mrs. Shulamit Velikovsky

Kogan as well as the Herzog family for permission to publish the letters.

1. “Attitudes Towards Modern Cosmogony and Evolution Among Rabbinic Thinkers in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century: The Resurgence of the Doctrine of the Sabbatical Years,” The Torah u-Madda Journal 13 (2005): 15-49.

2. See, for example, Maimonides, Treatise on Resurrection: “We will always attempt to create synthesis between Torah and reason, and explain things in

a natural way as much as possible, unless something was explicitly explained

to be a miracle and cannot be interpreted differently.” See Yitzhak Shilat (ed.), Iggerot ha-Rambam 1 (Jerusalem, 1995), 361 (my translation).

3. See Joseph Ben-David, Scientific Growth: Essays on the Social Organization and Ethos of Science, ed. Gad Freudenthal (Berkeley, 1991), 545-551.

4. Ibid., 521-31 and 551-58. Ben-David dates the move from criticism of sci- ence to anti-scientism at about 1968, and sees the social impact of the anti- Vietnam war movement among students as a major catalyst towards these feelings. See also Robert. K. Merton, “The Sociology of Science: An Episodic Memoir,” in The Sociology of Science in Europe, ed. Robert K. Merton and J. Gaston (Carbondale, IL, 1977), 111-13.

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5. This belief in the omnipotence of science contributed to the distrust of sci- entism in general. See Ben-David, Scientific Growth, 555.

6. See Oscar Handlin, “Ambivalence in the Popular Responses to Science,” in The Sociology of Science, ed. Barry Barnes (Harmondsworth, 1972), 268. See also K. M. Parsons, Drawing Out Leviathan: Dinosaurs and the Science Wars, (Bloomington, IND, 2001), xii-xxii. See also my article, “Reflections on the Popularity of Mysticism in the West Today: A General and Jewish Perspec- tive,” Studia Hebraica 4 (2004): 332-40.

7. The Holocaust had a particularly profound impact on the ultra-Orthodox rab-

binic leadership in Israel, who called for rebuilding the yeshivot at the expense of any secular studies or training. See Menahem Friedman, Ha-H evrah ha-

.

H . aredit: Mekorot, Megammot ve-Tahalikhim (Jerusalem, 1991), 26-36.

8. Yigal Shafran, “Ha-Rav Doctor Yiz h ak Isaac Halevi Herzog,” in H okhmat

.

.

.

Yisra’el be-Eiropah, ed. Simon Federbush (Jerusalem, 1965), vol. 3, p. 127.

9. Ibid., 137-48. For more on Rabbi Herzog’s biography, see S. Avidor- Hakohen, Yah id be-Doro (Jerusalem, 1980).

.

10. See, for example, Elimelech Westreich, “Levirate Marriage in the State of

Israel: Ethnic Encounter and the Challenge of a Jewish State,” Israel Law Review 37, 2-3 (2003-2004): 426-99.

11. R. Isaac Herzog, Teh ukah le-Yisrael Al Pi ha-Torah (Jerusalem, 1989). See

.

also Eliav Schochetman, “Torah u-Medinah be-Mishnato shel ha-Rayah Herzog,” Shanah be-Shanah (1991): 178-90.

12. Schochetman, “Torah u-Medinah,” 180-82.

13. Ibid., 178.

14. “Do not ask me to show that everything they [the Rabbis of the Talmud] said concerning astronomical matters conforms to the way things really are. For at that time, mathematics was imperfect. They did not speak about this as transmitters of dicta of the prophets, but rather because in those times they were the men of knowledge who lived in those times” (Guide of the Perplexed, trans. Shlomo Pines [Chicago, 1963], 3:14, p. 459). There were, of course, rabbinic authorities who disagreed with Maimonides. For a list of such rabbinic thinkers, see: Dov Frimer, “Keviat Abbahut al Yedei Bedikat Sugei Dam be-Mishpat ha-Yisraeli u-be-Mishpat ha-Ivri,” Sefer Assia 5, ed. Mordechai Halperin (Jerusalem, 1986), 193, n. 46. Rashba also seems to hold an opposing view to Maimonides in his Responsa 1:98. See Elimelech Westreich, “Medicine and Jewish Law in the Rabbinical Courts of Israel:

Matters of Infertility,” The Jewish Law Annual 12 (1997): 61.

15. See “The Talmud as a Source for the History of Ancient Science,” in Judaism: Laws and Ethics, Essays by the Late Chief Rabbi Dr. Isaac Herzog, ed. Chaim Herzog (London, 1974), 162-65 and 191.

16. Maimoni’s introduction to the Aggadah, quoted by R. Herzog, ibid., 152.

17. Yevamot 65b.

18. Bava Batra 119b.

19. My translation of Rabbi Herzog’s letter published by Frimer, “Keviat Abbahut,” 49.

20. See Westreich, “Medicine and Jewish Law,” 57-58, particularly what he calls the “middle road” approach taken by R. Waldenberg, concering the issue of a woman giving birth after age forty. He claimed that the Talmud meant that this was true generally but not as a strict rule.

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century as referring to spiritual worlds and not physical ones. See Sha‘ar Ma’amarei Rashbi (Jerusalem, 1959), 46b.

22. R. Herzog, “The Talmud as the Source for the History of Ancient Science,” 170.

23. Ibid., 171.

24. Ibid.

25. In a letter to Dr. L. Bernard Cohen, a researcher in the field of the history of science at Harvard University, Velikovsky writes: “If I understand right, you have not made up your mind conclusively as to my position in science as it

So why not learn about a dis-

sident from close? When in Princeton, you are welcome to visit me.” The letter is dated July 18th, 1955 (www.varchive.org/cor/various/ 550718vcoh.htm).

will find its evaluation by a future

26. See, for example, the letter from Harry H. Hess (Chairman of the Geology Department at Princeton University) to Velikovsky, dated March 15th 1963:

“I am not about to be converted to your form of reasoning, although it has had successes. You have, after all, predicted that Jupiter would be a source of radio noise, that Venus would have a high surface temperature, that the sun and bodies of the solar system would have large electrical charges, and several

other predictions. Some of these predictions were said to be impossible when you made them. All of them were made long before proof that they were correct came to hand. Conversely, I do not know of any specific predic- tion you made that has since been proven false” (www.varchive.org/ cor/hess/

630315hv.htm).

27. Einstein gave Velikovsky an empathetic but realistic explanation of why he

thinks the scientific community has difficulty excepting his ideas. See Lifnei Alot ha-Shah ar, ed. Shulamit Velikovsky Kogan (Tel Aviv, 1995), 22. The

empathy Velikovsky felt from Einstein and the latter’s willingness to discuss his theories brought Velikovsky to ask for his intervention on his behalf in the scientific community (ibid., 42-43). Over time, Einstein became almost enchanted with Velikovsky’s determination and creativity. He began to address his theories critically, explaining what he agreed and did not agree with, but he felt no responsibility to vindicate these theories in the eyes of the scientific community (ibid., 44). Velikovsky never gave up trying to receive confirmation from Einstein. The feeling of loss over the latter’s death was even greater as that expectation grew. Velikovsky concludes the first part of the book by relating how someone had described to him that his book, Worlds in Collision, was on the table in Einstein’s study at the time of his death (ibid., 93). For a list of Velikovsky’s books in Hebrew see: www.agesin- chaos.org.il.

28. Velikovsky’s ideas were also debated among the scientific community; on October 1953 he gave a lecture at the Graduate College Forum of Princeton University which he eventually published as a supplement to Earth in Upheaval. For more on Velikovsky’s theories and the reactions of the scien- tific community, see Henry Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky (Chicago, 1984). Velikovsky’s ideas still stimulate discussion. See“Chronology and Catastro- phism Review” (The Journal of the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies) XVII (1995). See also a short article in Hebrew on Velikovsky’s theories in Haaretz (May 13, 2005), Ha-Shavua, B6. See as well Velikovsky’s own feelings in Stargazers and Gravediggers: Memoirs to Worlds in Collision (New York, 1984). Summarizing Velikovsky’s main arguments, his daughter, Mrs. Shulamit Kogan wrote:

.

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When Immanuel Velikovsky arrived at the conclusion that the Exodus took place under world-wide natural upheavals, his research went in two directions:

Space, Worlds in Collision: Human testimony to world wide natural catastrophes from countries all around the world – from China to Norway, and from Greece to South America; and Earth in Upheaval:

geological and paleontological evidence to world wide natural catastro- phes, in historical, as well as in pre-historical times. Time, Ages in Chaos: Taking the natural upheavals as a synchroniz- ing starting point, Velikovsky found synchronism between Biblical his- tory and Egyptian history generation after generation, which convinc- ingly shows that there is an error of more than 500 years in Egyptian chronology. When Egyptian chronology is thus shortened, new light is shed on the problematic “Dark Age” of Greece.

29. First Letter, July 16, 1953.

30. For R. Kook’s perspective on scientific cosmogony see “Attitudes” (above note 1): 34-41.

31. R. Kook’s letters were first published in 1953, but Orot ha-Kodesh was pub- lished in the 1930’s.

32. Letter of July 16, 1953.

33. See R. A.Y. Kook, Selected Letters, ed. and trans. Tzvi Feldman, (Jerusalem, 1986), 5-10. R. Herzog was definitely not aware of the essay in Shemonah Kevaz im in which R. Kook addresses this very question. See Shemonah

.

Kevaz im (Jerusalem, 1999), vol. 1, pp. 42-44.

.

34. Letter of R. Herzog to Dr. Velikovsky July 16, 1953.

35. Second Letter, Velikovsky to R. Herzog, July 30, 1953.

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid. To R. Herzog’s credit, in an air of tolerance he says nothing of Velikovsky’s liberal interpretation of the Divine nature of the Torah.

38. Ibid.

39. See my article, “Attitudes,” 31.

40. Third letter, R. Herzog to Velikovsky August 31, 1953.

41. Ibid.

42. See above text at note 21.

43. Fourth letter,Velikovsky to R. Herzog, September 14, 1953.

44. Ibid.

45. Ibid.

46. Fifth letter, R. Herzog to Velikovsky, Oct. 25th, 1953.

47. Letter of Velikovsky to R. Herzog, Dec. 23, 1953

48. Ibid., p. 2.

49. Ibid.

50. Ibid.

51. See Velikovsky archive above note 25. I did not get permission from the family to publish the draft.

52. Velikovsky to R.Herzog, Dec. 6, 1955.

53. R. Herzog to Velikovsky, Dec. 19, 1955.

54. Velikovsky to R. Herzog January 5, 1956.

55. In 1956, the Big Bang theory had not yet been accepted by the scientific community, so it is possible that Velikovsky was just echoing the accepted view in his day.

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56. Ibid.

57. Ibid.

58. See my article, “Attitudes”: 23. I mentioned there that the theory of the sab- batical worlds, which was the kabbalistic development of the midrashic idea of earlier worlds, was popular between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. After being criticized by R. Isaac Luria of the sixteenth century, it was aban- doned until its resurgence in the mid-nineteenth century by those trying to understand modern scientific cosmogony from a rabbinic perspective. The abandoning of this idea after the Second World War relates to the idea I men- tioned above regarding the lack of desire by rabbinic authorities in the 1960’s and 1970’s to seek a synthesis between science and religion on this issue.

59. Even the Syrian Rabbis who criticized R. Benamozegh’s Em la-Mikra for adducing non-Jewish points of view did not seem to have any problem with

his liberal interpretation of how long ago creation took place. See Z ari Gil‘ad,

R. Benamozegh’s response to the Syrian Rabbis, in Ha-Levanon (1871-72),

.

vols. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 32, 36, 42 and 43.

60. See my article, “Attitudes”: 39.