Tag Archives: Genius

Jew of the Week: Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein – Genius

The “father of modern physics”, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was born in Germany, lived in Italy, and received his higher education in Switzerland. In 1905, Einstein exploded onto the science scene with 4 revolutionary papers on the subjects of the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and mass/energy equivalence. By 1919 his research and theories were world-famous, with The Times reporting “Revolution in Science – New Theory of the Universe – Newtonian Ideas Overthrown”. He won the Nobel Prize two years later, for the photoelectric effect (not relativity!) In 1922, Einstein travelled the world, with a 12-day stop in Israel, during which he said “I consider this the greatest day of my life.” In 1933, he moved permanently to the US due to the Nazi rise to power. The Nazis raided his house, publicly burned his writings, and even put a bounty on his head worth $5000! Of them, he said, “I must confess that the degree of their brutality and cowardice came as something of a surprise.” Fearing the Nazis would develop an atomic bomb, Einstein penned a letter to President Roosevelt persuading him to start a nuclear weapon research program. Einstein would later call this the greatest mistake of his life – but a necessary one.

Einstein Predicts the Future...?

Einstein Predicts the Future…?

He spent the rest of his life researching, teaching and writing, based primarily at Princeton. He was a member of the NAACP and fought for civil rights in America. Becoming a vegetarian, Einstein believed mankind as a whole would benefit greatly by adopting such a diet. Three years before his death he was offered to be President of Israel, but was “saddened and ashamed” to decline, humbly admitting he would have no idea how to run a country. Einstein passed away while working on a speech for Israel’s 7th Independence Day. His brain was preserved to be studied, the rest of his body cremated and scattered. Receiving countless awards, Einstein would publish over 300 scientific works, and an additional 150 non-scientific ones. He revolutionized the fields of thermodynamics, light, quantum physics, energy, relativity, cosmology, statistics, motion and momentum, magnetization, refrigeration and a host of others. He was also a musician. So great is his legacy, that “Einstein” has become synonymous with “genius”.

Words of the Week

Einstein in 1947

Einstein in 1947

Gems from Albert Einstein:

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

Jew of the Week: Rabbi Elyashiv

Rav Elyashiv

Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (1910-2012) was born in Lithuania, the grandson of famous kabbalist Shlomo Elyashiv. He was an only child, long-awaited after 17 years of childless marriage. Proving his genius at an early age, he never needed to pass any rabbinical examination or ordination. Considered by many to be among the greatest rabbis in the world, and chief posek (authority of Jewish law), he was also the spiritual leader of the Degel haTorah party in the Israeli Knesset. Since the 1950s, countless volumes of his teachings have been published, including a famous 18-volume set of Talmudic commentaries. Rabbi Elyashiv passed away last week, at the age of 102. Over 300,000 people attended his funeral in Jerusalem. True to his humble nature, it was his wish that no eulogies be said. Rav Elyashiv had 12 children, and lived to see his great-great-great-grandkids. Incredibly, he already has nearly 1000 descendants!

Words of the Week

Better that you not vow, than that you should vow and not fulfill.
King Solomon (Kohelet 5:4)

Jew of the Week: the Vilna Gaon

Genius Is His Middle Name

the Vilna Gaon

Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer (1720-1797) was born in a small village in what is now Belarus. Known popularly as the Vilna Gaon – the Genius from Vilnius – it is said he committed the entire Torah to memory by age 5, and by age 11 the entire Talmud. It wasn’t long before he was one of European Jewry’s greatest legal authorities. A prolific writer, he penned commentaries on the Tanakh, Talmud, Mishnah and many other works (a large number of them Kabbalistic). Dedicating every moment of his life to Torah learning, he generally studied secular subjects only while in the bathroom (where study of Torah is forbidden). It was there that he became an expert in astronomy and Euclidean geometry, later instructing his disciples to write a mathematical treatise called Ayin Meshulash. The Vilna Gaon led a simple, saintly, ascetic lifestyle, sleeping just 2 hours a day, usually in 4 half-hour segments. For much of his life he was a travelling nomad, though his aim was always to settle in Israel. Himself unable to accomplish this goal, at least three groups of his students and their families did succeed in making Aliyah, bringing over 500 people to Tzfat and Jerusalem long before the Zionist movement. The Vilna Gaon passed away on Tishrei 19, the 5th day of Sukkot.

Psalm of the Day on the day of Gilad Schalit’s release from captivity. Incredibly, the psalm explicitly mentions Gilad’s name, as well as freedom from captivity, the holiday of Sukkot, and Tuesday. Schalit was freed on Tuesday, during the holiday of Sukkot!

Words of the Week

“On Simchat Torah the Torah scrolls wish to dance, so we become their feet.”
– Chassidic saying