Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

The light of darkness and the sound of silence

The Jewish Sages were right, and modern scientists are clueless

Too much philosophical chatter about the difference between perception and reality has muddled our brains. Studying neurons gives the answers.

The Light of Darkness

It sounds strange, but the Sages of the Talmud tell us that the darkness appearing in the second verse of the Torah was not an absence of light. Rather, it was a special kind of light. I tell you they were right. How?

Forget about the brain merely being a sophisticated camera. The retina, the deepest tissue of the eye, has ten layers that integrate the neural reactions to light. The enormous computation is no surprise to those who know that the retina – and the optic ‘nerve’ – are part of the brain.

As soon as a cell detects light, the cells around it send a message of the opposite to the visual cortex. This contrast makes it possible to see unbelievably small amounts of light. So, a black contour appears surrounding white light. And green light gets a red outline. When, after exposure, you look at a white wall or close your eyes or enter a dark room, you can see some of these neurological tricks. We do see darkness.

In the third Torah verse, G^d creates light that is not dark. Not color, only something vaguely light. The dark-light contrast helped to see it at all.

[G^d then separates light and darkness, an issue beyond our discussion.]

The Sound of Silence

Now scientists try to fool us into believing that silence can be heard.

Total nonsense, of course. Sound is not light.

When you follow their ‘finding,’ it’s clear they didn’t find that silence is a sound. That would make no sense. When something makes no sense, it is not macroscopic science but rather … non-sense. Rather, they found that the brain processes periods of silence like periods of sound. Duh.

And even that’s not certain. When the silence begins, you still have some reverberation time, eating away at the silence. When you have that twice, you have twice the reverberation time. But if you insert twice the silent time as one block, you have one reverberation period, leaving more perceived silence. This just for people who can think on a basic level.


Jewish seeing is seeing the good

There is more than Sh’ma’ Yisrael in the world

Look Who’s Talking!

The outside is superficial, but viewing it goes down deeply. One picture is worth 1000 words. Seeing is so profound. Burned on the retina, you can’t remove it. But it only scratches the surface. On the other hand, hearing is the opposite. The inside is deeper, but noticing it can stay superficial in our minds. Sound can describe the inner essence of things but may enter one ear and leave through the other, so to speak. Nothing is simple here.

So, don’t look at the face of evil people. Don’t look at temptation (nudes) or painful images (people dying); the picture stays with you. It is deep and lengthy psychological work to transform such loaded pictures into neutral imagery. We are influenced deeply by what we see.

But Rabbi Nachman says, it’s a two-way street. What we see influences us, but, reversely, our seeing can also influence the things we look at. Search a wicked person for a tiny spot of goodness. By focusing on it, we strengthen him to turn his life around!

This kind of influence can come from Heaven, too. Early on in the Torah, G^d looks at the good light to strengthen it. It happens when G^d looks at the light that is good. [Not: And G^d saw that the light is good. G^d doesn’t take in sensory information. He knows.] And in the Priestly Blessing, He looks at us to strengthen us.

Reversely, we ask G^d in our prayers to look at our suffering and help us, and not to analyze too deeply why we suffer—because we might have deserved it or asked for it. Just help us, please.

Eve saw (!) that the Tree (of Knowing Good from Bad!) was good (!) to eat from. Would she have thought about it longer, she wouldn’t have touched it with a flagpole. But seeing can be very compelling.

Sensory information can fool us. We often just hear and see what we expect or want to notice.

But my tissue teacher taught us to describe what we see to let it dawn on us what we’re looking at through a microscope.

Good is in the Eye of the Beholder

The Primordial Sin has puzzled many people. Some assume that Adam and Eve were not saints, so, what do you want from them? But the Jewish Tradition says they were at a very high moral level. Then, how could they? Or how could they not? And how could they be held accountable?

A core problem here is that when G^d tests us, we can always pass. Only, when we opt for a risk we didn’t have to take, such an assurance is not given. But the Command not eating from the Tree is a G^d-given test. Adam and Eve didn’t say: “What stringencies could we take upon ourselves to show our love for Him?” Then, how to explain they failed the test?!

G^d says it’s not good for humans to be alone, to have no one opposite of them. How did He know? That must have been humanity’s complaint. So, G^d said to Himself, so to speak: “You think that’s not good? I’ll teach you what’s not good.” You’re so weak, you can’t even handle one commandment for one hour. That is not good.

The Torah uses few adjectives. This might be to enable our imagination. The first real adjective in the Torah is only word 31, Tov, Good, Right, OK. G^d looks at the light that was good—to strengthen it, as we saw above. [Not: And G^d saw that the light was good. G^d doesn’t take in sensory information. He knows.] Good seems to be of paramount importance.

After we became able to tell right from wrong, we messed up more. After ten generations, we even needed a clean slate after a Flood. But the Seven Commandments of Noach didn’t work too. Then, the 613 Commandments for Abraham’s family didn’t stick. A whole People couldn’t handle it. Some 80% of them died in the Exodus. In the 40 years in the desert, about all the men died. Mostly, women and kids entered the Land. And for 3,000 years now, we try to figure out what is good, right, or worth our while.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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