The “Nitzotzot” Vision
The Divine spark in Man's soul enables Man to think creatively, thereby illuminating his path through the maze of prejudices and accepted political correctness. Along with this spark, the Jews were chosen to receive the Divine gift of the Torah, from which came the universal values that lead Mankind towards attaining true justice, compassion and charity.
The ground-breaking findings of the latest scientific research present an array of conceptual, cognitive, ethical and legal challenges to previously accepted notions; similarly, they may challenge conventional Torah perspectives. Yet at its core, the Torah has within it the power to provide intuitive and novel approaches to the complexities of today's cutting-edge issues in the world of science. This joint creative spirit – of academic and rabbinic circles – is all the more relevant in the education and promotion of Jewish leadership in the current setting of science and society.
This is the model of thinking that constitutes the basis of Nitzotzot: engaging in a creative analysis of the essential Torah sources in order to shed light on new scientific findings and, thereby, explicating those findings in light of Torah teachings. The source for the name 'Nitzotzot' is derived from the words of the following midrash:
When the sun set on the first Shabbat of Creation and darkness began to fall, Adam became agitated and exclaimed: "Woe is me! Perhaps God's curse (Genesis 3:16) - he will bruise your head - is being fulfilled at this moment? As it is written (Psalms 139:11) "Certainly darkness shall envelop me, and the light about me shall become night."
So what did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do? He arranged two stones, one of ophel and one of zalmavet, as it is written (Job 28:3) "Man puts an end to darkness, and explores the boundless universe, (revealing) ophel and zalmavet stones". Adam then took the two stones and struck one against the other and produced fire. Over that fire, Adam recited [for the first time] the Havdalah blessing of borei meorei ha-esh.
The spark released by striking the ophel and zalmavet stones together brought fire into existence. Fire is the source of light which illumines the darkness, and the source of heat which enables man to overcome his hostile surroundings. That first spark of fire symbolizes human technology, which for the Midrash is not the product of a Promethean theft, but an act of kindness from on high, which becomes the source of human creativity. It is thus self-evident that the act of striking two stones together, that is, using the material and ideas which were prepared for man in this world, signifies the breakthroughs of which man is capable in both the realms of science and Torah. This divinely-ordained task of uncovering new vistas is placed squarely at the door of those who sit on the benches of the study-house, just as it challenges scientific researchers in laboratories and libraries, who are immersed in the never-ending quest for new understandings. For man merely to remain stagnant, even if his location is currently lit, is tantamount to standing in the dark.