10 Surprising Things about Judaism

10 Surprising Things about Judaism

Bright candle

By Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Judaism always taught a belief about the world’s origin that ran counter to the teachings of science and philosophy - until the Torah view was confirmed by an idea that Nobel Laureate Prof. Steven Weinberg of Harvard University calls "one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century." Judaism believes that the world hasn't always existed. It had a beginning. It came into being. Scientific theory however for centuries firmly clung to the view that the world was eternal. The idea of creatio ex nihilo - creation out of nothing – which is at the core of Judaism's belief in a divine Creator, was considered impossible. Science and religion seemed to be locked in a duel with no hope for a clear victor. In 1946, George Gamow stunned the scientific community with a radically new theory. Instead of the accepted assumption of the constancy of the universe - that what we observe today has always existed and will always exist in essentially its present form - Gamow expressed his conviction that the universe began at a fixed moment in time, out of nothing.

By the 1960s, it had become technically feasible to detect the electromagnetic radiation predicted by the big bang theory and to validate its conclusions. In 1978, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, Gamow’s collaborators were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their fundamental discovery. Unfortunately, George Gamow couldn't share in this honor because he died in 1968, and the rules of the Nobel Prize do not permit posthumous awards. Probably for that very same reason the award could also not go to Abraham, the first Jew, who had come to the same conclusion.

 

Rabbi Benjamin Blech is an internationally recognized educator, religious leader, author, and lecturer. He is the author of 12 books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Understanding Judaism, Second Edition. He has appeared on national television (including The Oprah Winfrey Show); hosted a popular weekly radio program in New York; and written for Newsweek, and The New York Times. Rabbi Blech’s latest book which came out last April was featured on Nightline, Good Morning America and a 1-hour special on 20/20.

Related Topics: Judaism, Facts
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