chapter  10
14 Pages

The Torah and the worldly sciences in the teaching of the Maharal of Prague and Chabad Chassidism

WithSHIMON COWEN

This chapter explores dimensions of the teaching of the Maharal of Prague with regard to the relationship of the Torah and the sciences both in the Maharal’s own terms and also, in places, as these are further elucidated through the teachings of ‘Chabad’ Chassidic thought. This is not a matter of grafting a different teaching onto the Maharal’s thought and forcing the two into an unnatural union. The classic text of Chabad Chassidic philosophy, the Tanya of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, has on the title page of its first part, Likkutei Amarim (Selected Sayings): “these ‘sayings’ are ‘selected from holy books (s’forim) and writers (sofrim).’ ” A tradition within Chabad has it that the term ‘books’ includes reference to those of the Maharal of Prague.1

Moreover, Rabbi Schneur Zalman was himself a seventh-generation descendent, ‘son after son’, of the Maharal.2