Let My People Know

"The word nature has been endlessly abused"


The concept of nature (in Hebrew, Teva), is a word which does not appear in the Bible.

From a certain point of view, the word indicates an inexplicable and even illogical phenomenon-the nature of things. 

It lies outside the realm of explanation, for a rational elucidation is not the same as "knowing" the nature of something.
We can only describe and analyze nature, but it remains baffling to our reasoning intelligence. 

Subsequently, even the word nature itself has been endlessly abused. 

It has become the excuse for anything inexplicable, from the spiritual nature of the Divine to the "natural" wickedness of "human nature." 

The Hebrew word is derived from the same root letters as the word to impress, to give a thing its stamp or shape. 

The idea is that natural objects are impressed with their form, beyond human reason, and whatever reasoning is afterward applied to these forms only describes them.

It does not really affect them.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Long Shorter Way by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz