Torah and Wisdom

“Wisdom tells us how the world is. Torah tells us how the world ought to be. Wisdom is about nature. Torah is about will. It is about human freedom and choice and the way we are called on to behave. Wisdom is about the world God makes. Torah is about the world God calls on us to make, honouring others as bearers of God’s image, exercising our freedom in such a way as not to rob others of theirs.”

“The difference between the two is freedom. The natural universe is as it is because that is how it is. The planets are not free in their movements. Chemical elements do not choose which way to combine. Genes do not make decisions. But we are free; we do choose; we do make decisions. If the movements of the planets fail to obey Aristotle’s law of circular motion, that is not because they are disobedient but because Aristotle’s law is wrong. But if human beings fail to obey the laws against murder, robbery or theft, that is not because there is something wrong with the laws but because there is something wrong with us. Moral laws are not scientific laws. They belong to a different world, the human world, the world of freedom, God’s most fraught and fateful gift. The Hebrew Bible is entirely about this drama of human freedom. Hence the possibility of admiring science as wisdom while at the same time seeing it as a separate discipline best left to scientists.”

The Great Partnership, Chapter 3, p. 64