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.