Monday, March 22, 2010

Is nature incapable of making squares and right angles?

So was the devar torah I heard on parashat Tetzaveh, in terms of how so many things in the construction of the Mishkan was ravua. Such as, in Shemot 28:16,

טז  רָבוּעַ יִהְיֶה, כָּפוּל; זֶרֶת אָרְכּוֹ, וְזֶרֶת רָחְבּוֹ.16 Four-square it shall be and double: a span shall be the length thereof, and a span the breadth thereof.

And this has a particular meaning. The basis of this is a statement from Rav Shamshon Rephael Hirsch:

But then, what about the Giant's Causeway, pictured above? I suppose they are not exactly square -- most are hexagonal, though there are some with four sides, and they do have angles. And they look hewn, though the result of natural processes. I suppose there is always the exception that makes the rule. And this is why the Giant's Causeway seems so out of the ordinary.


Anonymous said...

One word: crystals.

joshwaxman said...

there are also the square craters on the moon.

Lakewood Falling Down said...

I am making this up:
Since salt is the only crystal we are commanded to put onto a korban, it helps put an "angular" human touch onto it.
Do you like it?

joshwaxman said...

cute; of course, then there is an answer to those who would prefer dipping bread in breadcrumbs over sugar, when no salt is available...


Dan Klein said...

"the creative and formative processes of the organism will produce a rounded shape..."
Minerals aren't "organisms" or a product of organisms. Rav Hirsch may not have been absolutely right (what about hexagonal honeycomb cells?), but he does seem to exclude crystals from his analysis.

Z said...

This reminds me of The 2001 Principle

joshwaxman said...

"Minerals aren't "organisms" or a product of organisms."
yes; good point. this wasn't how it was told over in the shiur, but it seems rather likely that this is how Rav Hirsch intended it. (though I haven't seen it in German.)



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