Moshe Rabeinu asked for two things about knowing G-d: “Let me know Your ways,” and “Show me Your Honor”. G-d said no to the second request, which was a request to understand the WHYs in the world, why things happen to different people – that information was beyond human comprehension. But as to the first request of the “let me know Your ways,” which was Moshe asking to know HOW the world is run, G-d agreed to teach Moshe.
Rabbeinu Bachya explains that the WHY of the world we should not ask about. However, what we can understand of G-d, which is the HOW of the running of the world, that we have an obligation to know. The HOW of the world is basically the laws of nature which, according to Rabbeinu Bachya, is why the Torah starts with Maaseh Braishis, with the account of world creation. We need to understand the nature of the world and how nature was set up, because that leads us to Emunah [faith] and an understanding of Hashgacha Pratis [individual providence].
Chassidim refer to G-d as the “Bashefer” [and not Hashem] which means The Creator, for Chassidim stress the Yesod of Emunah [foundation of faith] begins with the Bashafinkeit [creation], with the fact that the world was set up with exact rules. The preciseness of how nature works shows there is no randomness in the world.
Iyov was a man, tested by the Satan, who had horrible sufferings. At one point, he decided that while the Bashefer set up the world, perhaps the Bashefer doesn’t run it. And the Bashefer then speaks to Iyov and asks him, ‘who takes care that every hair grows out of its own follicle’, showing Iyov the exact Hashgacha Pratis [Divine Providence]. G-d then continues with the lecture to Iyov, showing various examples of precision of nature which begs need for Intelligent Design and Constant Supervision.
If we want our children to be complete in their faith, we have to teach them about nature, because that is the Yad Hashem, the handiwork, the imprint of the Bashefer. As you study the wonders of nature, you come to see what scientists call “irreducible complexity” – each aspect of nature is so complex you cannot remove any part of it without destroying it, proving the Bashefer designed and created each small part, each vessel in our eye, each flower in the forest and each grain of sand.
Some quick picks, and these are the simple ones, to astound you:
In order for the world to be able to have living beings, the earth has to stay tilted exactly at the precise location it is now. One tiny tilt more forward or backwards would kill us.
All things when frozen become heavier and will sink the bottom. The only thing that becomes lighter when frozen is water (think of ice-cubes floating in your drink). When water freezes, the icy part stays on the top of the rivers and lakes, allowing the fish to continue to live under the ice layer in unfrozen water!
Some things to show your children:
Fruit when unripe is a yucky, greenish color, but as it becomes ripe and healthy to eat, it becomes appealing bright colors to encourage us to pick it and eat it.
Show your child a salmon. Built into that salmon is a very strong tail the salmon uses to jump upstream from where it is born (at times jumping as high as 12 feet). Inside the salmon, the little nerves, not visible to the eye, can feel currents and keep the salmon swimming to where it needs to go.
The list is endless. As you and your child explore nature and see how life survives, I am sure there will be a heightened appreciation, an ability to really sing “Mah Rabu Maasecha Hashem…”
And then, when you’re finished with the easy science “laws of nature”, graduate to physics and be blown away at how more exquisitely fine-tuned the world has been made.