Rabbi Steinsaltz: “Judaism anticipated somewhat the theory of relativity.”

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes:

Western culture places so much value on culture that  it calls it “spiritual life.”

Why should an individual’s brain be more sacred  than his body?

Spirit and matter are two forms of life, two  different modes of the same reality. 

I would say that Judaism anticipated somewhat the  theory of relativity.

Before Einstein, matter and energy were  thought to be two entirely different entities.

We know today  that they are basically the same and are simply two facets of  the same reality.

Similarly, there is a conventional distinction  between mind and matter.

Judaism has always refused to accept this division.

Mind and matter are only two phases of  the same reality.

One cannot be associated with good and the  other with evil. 

In Judaism, the real opposition is not between mind  and body, or body and soul, but between the sacred and  the profane.

And it is clear that many facets of “spiritual” life  are unrelated to the sacred.

Only the sacred and the profane  are two different worlds.

In contrast, the differences between  the various facets of existence, both material and spiritual,  are only quantitative.

This is why we can be totally absorbed  in the “spiritual” life of the mind-for example, devoting our life to philosophy or music-and nevertheless live completely  in a nonsacred world.

Hasidism emphasizes the close connections  between thought and matter.

Thought is the outcome  of the functioning of a physical organ, the brain.

This is why thought is one thing, and the soul, another.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

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