What is so bad about adultery that it is prohibited in the 10 commandments?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
To paraphrase Dennis Prager, Judaism has a sexual ideal: marital sex. Judaism placed controls on sexual activity, demanding that it be channeled into marriage. This quite simply changed the world and made the creation of Western civilization possible. Societies that did not place boundaries around sexuality were stymied in their development. The subsequent dominance of the Western world can largely be attributed to the sexual revolution initiated by Judaism, and later carried forward by Christianity.
This revolution began the arduous task of elevating the status of women. It is probably impossible for us, who live thousands of years after Judaism began this process, to perceive the extent to which undisciplined sex can dominate society. (Although we are perhaps seeing the ill effects of unrestrained sexualization in some aspects of Western society today.)
The bedrock of Western civilization, and of Jewish life, has been the centrality and purity of family life. Children need the stability to grow and develop in a family unit with a mother and father, each giving their appropriate influences. Adultery attacks the family unit at its core. Once adultery enters into the marriage, the chances of divorce increase, and at the very least the closeness and unity of the couple - and subsequently the entire family - breaks down. At stake is our civilization.
On a deeper level, if one has formed a solid relationship with his spouse, this will help develop his fidelity to God as well. The converse is also true: One who is disloyal to his spouse will most likely be disloyal to God.
The Midrash says this idea is alluded to by the placement of different commandments on the two tablets. The seventh commandment, the prohibition against adultery, appears opposite the second commandment, "Do not have other gods before me." This positioning is not accidental, but rather hints that loyalty to spouse and loyalty to God go hand-in-hand.
Adultery is much worse than just cheating on one's partner. It corrupts the entire basis of how we act in this world - and that demands strong counter-measures.
I understand that every phenomenon in our physical world has a corresponding message in the metaphysical world. Could you please tell me why some people are color blind, and what this indicates in a spiritual sense?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
In terms of observing the mitzvot, there is no major difference between a color blind person and one who with normal vision. The color blind person is obligated in all mitzvot, and is merely restricted in certain details. For example:
• He cannot check for different colors in the letters of a Torah scroll, tefillin and mezuzot.
• He is restricted in selecting the four species for Sukkot, since there are some color disqualifications he may not be able to discern.
• He would not be able to check certain matters of family purity.
As for the deep metaphysical, the "Zohar," the main book of Jewish mysticism, speaks about three eye colorings and their esoteric meaning. Interestingly, one of the most successful theories of color vision is the "Trichromatic Theory," which postulates three types of color receptors in the eye.
(Sources: "Zohar" - Raya Mehemna III Ekev; "Human Color Vision" by Robert M. Boynton)
I am a scientist and enjoy studying the Torah lessons found on Aish.com. But from a professional standpoint, I feel that scientific information is more accurate and reliable. Is that a valid perspective?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
Yes and no. on one hand, when it comes to things like medicine, we have to rely on modern science. Yet on the other hand, we have seen time and again where science evolves its theories, and something that was once considered crazy - like the Big bang - becomes accepted as fact.
The Torah is absolute and immutable, and there are many examples of how the Torah reflects a deeper scientific wisdom. Here's one:
The verse says: "[King Solomon] made a molten sea of 10 cubits from rim to rim, with a round circumference, five cubits in height, and a 30-cubit line of circumference." (1-Kings 7:23, 2-Chronicles 4:2)
The verse describes King Solomon's pool as a circular structure with a circumference of 30 cubits and a diameter of 10 cubits. Thus: 30 divided by 10 equals 3. This value is considered a very primitive approximation of Pi.
Historians have generally attributed the first close approximation of Pi to the Egyptians, in their construction of the Great Pyramid, as described by Abbe Moreux in his "La Science Mysterieuse des Pharaons" (Paris, 1923).
Now let's look at the writings of The Vilna Gaon (18th century Lithuania), who writes:
In each of the two Biblical verses describing King Solomon's pool, the word for "line" is written differently. What is the possible reason? If we take the gematria (numerical value) of the two spellings, we find something very significant.
The word "line" in 1-Kings 7:23 is spelled Kuf-Vav-Heh, which equals a numerical value of 111. The word "line" in 2-Chronicles 4:2 is spelled Kuf-Vav, a numerical value of 106.
If you calculate the ratio of these two values to four decimal places (1.0472), then multiply by 3 (the biblical value of Pi in its simple reading), the result is 3.1416 - the precise mathematic value of Pi, correct to four decimal places.
Many scientists acknowledge the deeper scientific truths of Torah. I recommend reading the writings of Dr. Gerald Schroeder, author of Genesis and the Big Bang, The Science of God, and The Hidden Face of God.