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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 - 14 Iyyar 5784
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In 2008 the American economy took a sharp nosedive, which dragged the entire global economy into a recession from which it has yet to recover. One of the reasons for the downturn was irresponsible mathematical modeling. Financial investment companies had developed complex algorithms to determine how to best invest their clients' assets. In order to evaluate the risks of various options, they had to rely on formulas that few could understand.

As we have learned from bitter experiences, even the most sophisticated algorithm is only a pale reflections of the true reality, and it can sometimes be misleading and cause great damage. Other areas where science relies heavily on projection and interpolation, such as beach erosion, climatology and nuclear safety, are likewise fraught with inconsistency and unreliability. For an investment company to rely on these unreliable algorithms is, in essence, to gamble with other people's money -- people who often end up paying dearly.

Do we put too much faith into scientific conjecture? One could argue that it's the best we have right now, and after all, science has done quite well in improving the quality of life for millions of people around the world. Even if it's not perfect, science can help us predict when the next severe storm will hit so we can prepare effectively, or when the next epidemic will strike so we can prevent and control many deadly diseases.

The correct approach is most likely a balance of both: healthy respect for scientific accomplishments and the benefits that they have brought, along with skepticism and awareness of their limitations. To deny or disregard the benefits of science would be foolish, but to place our full trust in human conjecture is foolhardy as well.

In ancient times we had prophets who would guide us through shaky, uncertain times. It has been a long time since the gift of prophecy was removed... but very soon it will be restored, with the coming of Moshiach.

Actually, Maimonides states that prior to Moshiach's coming, prophecy will return, as a preparation for the Geulah. Indeed, in the talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe there were many statements that were nothing less than prophetic, such as the outcome to Israel's wars and the eventual fall of the Soviet Union. In personal communications as well, the Rebbe's advice was uncannily accurate.

At this time we are awaiting the fulfillment of the Rebbe's final prophecy... that we are the last generation of exile and the first of Redemption. This is no mere human conjecture, but a revelation of a Divine truth that will soon be visible to all.



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