I am trying to find a story I read once concerning Rav Soleveitchik. Please forgive me if I am remembering it incorrectly.

The basic story was a comparison between two Jewish scientists, one involved in the theoretical science of evolution, and one involved in the more hard science of radiation dating. The one who was dealing with (discovering?) the age of the universe was religious, while the other was not. The irreligious one, when asked about why he chose to become irreligious, would tell the story of how as a child during birchas kohanim he opened his left eye and didn't lose sight in that eye. Then he opened his right eye. When he didn't lose sight in that eye as well, he decided the entire religion was a sham.

Someone asked Rav Soleveitchic how it was possible that the one scientist who was dealing with hard facts was able to see the truth in religion, whereas the one dealing with mere theories could not. To which the Rav quipped unfortunately the latter went blind as a child.

IIRC the person who wrote this story was not sure of it's veracity. I am looking to either track it down, or disprove it, if that is even possible.


1 Answer 1


From here:

I once heard a great story about Rav Solovetchick, from R’ Motty Berger of Aish. Isidor Rabi developed a theory in the 30’s that was a harbinger of the Big Bang theory. Arno Penzias was one of the scientists who discovered proof of it in the 60’s. Rabi was born frum but went off, and in his autobiography he tells a story in which he relates why he went off the derech. He writes that when he was 10 years old he was told that if someone looks at the kohanim during duchening, they will go blind. He wanted to test this out to see if it was true, but didn’t want to lose his eyesight in both eyes, so he took a peek through one of them. When nothing happened, he opened his other eye, and when he saw that what he had been taught was indeed untrue, he decided to leave yiddishkeit. That was Rabi’s story. Penzias, on the other hand, I have heard, is a ba’al teshuva. He once stated (http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/06/would_dr_arno_penzias_nobel_la003733.html) “The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.” Clearly he did not see science as a contradiction to keeping the Torah. They once asked the rav, “why is it that while Penzias became frum, Rabi went off?” Without batting an eyelash he replied, “Because when he was ten years old, he went blind…”

  • 1
    +1 ok. That's definitely not where I saw it, and I'd love to trace this back further. But it is something. Thank you.
    – user6591
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 2:43
  • @Alex Spectacular story.
    – SAH
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 22:00

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