Remembering a Great Rabbi Who Brought Religion and Science Together

Oct. 11 2021

While some thinkers have seen inherent tension between faith and science and others have seen them as separate but complementary perspectives on the world, Rabbi Moshe Tendler—who died last month at the age of ninety-five—saw the two as working together, in a quintessentially Jewish fashion. He was best known for applying new medical knowledge to the thorniest questions of Jewish law, and applying Jewish law to new medical technologies. David M. Weinberg writes:

Tendler was a professor of microbiology and Jewish medical ethics at Yeshiva University, a distinguished clinical cancer researcher, one of America’s leading bioethicists, and a president of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists. . . . Simultaneously, he was a yeshiva dean, a community rabbi in Monsey, New York for over five decades, and an unassailable expert in halakhah (Jewish law).

Tendler also was the essential, accessible “rabbi-doctor” pastoral guide for thousands of Jews in times of medical crisis. Every day, he fielded dozens of calls from around the world about complicated issues of Jewish law and medicine, especially issues relating to abortion, artificial insemination, contraception, end-of-life issues, organ transplantation, and the definition of death.

As Weinberg notes, there are many learned Jews today who are also accomplished scientists, and some are even Nobel-prize winners, but

none was as uniquely positioned to move the needle of the appreciation for science in the religious world and of the respect for religion among his fellow scientists as was Tendler. He empowered Jews everywhere to value the wonderful and complex interface between science and religion, and he demonstrated the value of this fusion for the non-Jewish world too.

Torah-educated students, [Tendler believed], should derive an important conclusion from viewing a human cell under a microscope, . . . the palpable sensation of encountering God as the creator of life. Just as, [a midrash teaches that] the patriarch Abraham recognized God when he viewed the stars in the sky, we also should recognize that He created this world through our observation of the microscopic human cell.

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Read more at David M. Weinberg

More about: Halakhah, Judaism, Medicine, Science and Religion

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism