Classical Torah Vs. Chabad: Study of Science
Chabad spokesman frequently describe Chabad's sefer Tanya as the “one size fits all” life manual. The intention of such statements apparently is to discourage the study of non-Chabad seforim, with the implication that Chabad seforim such as Tanya already contain the teachings of the previous (classical) Torah sages.
However, in my opinion, this claim is a major distortion of reality. There is much evidence that various Chabad doctrines radically conflict with classical Torah sources.
The following is intended as a starting point for comparison of classical viewpoints on studying science vs. the viewpoint of Chabad's Tanya.
A. Chabad's sefer Tanya claims that the study of science contaminates a Jew's intellect:
"The impurity of the science of the nations is greater than the impurity of idle speech...in the case of the science of the nations; thereby one clothes and defiles his divine soul’s faculties of ChaBaD (intellect) with the impurity of the kelipat nogah contained in those sciences." (Tanya, Chpt. 8)
B. In contrast to sefer Tanya, the great Torah theology and ethics book Chovos HaLevavos, Shar HaBechina states that Jews have a duty to study the created Universe and deduce the wisdom of the Creator in it:
"Is it our duty to study created things or not? We reply that the examination of created things and deducing from them the wisdom of the Creator is a duty which can be demonstrated from Reason, Scripture, and Tradition (the oral torah)." (Chovos HaLevavos, Shar HaBechina, Chpt. 2)
C. Rambam states that study of the Creation increases a person's love for Hashem:
"When man contemplates concerning these things, and perceives all creatures, whether angel, sphere, or man the likeness of himself, and discovers the wisdom of the Holy One, blessed is He! in all beings of form and in all creatures, his love for the Omnipresent increases and his soul and body thirst and yearn to love Him. . ." (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 4:12)
In contrast to Tanya, the great medieval rabbis such as Rambam and Rabbeinu Bachya wrote that Man cannot comprehend the essence of God, rather Man can only understand that God exists and is one.
However Man can and should examine the Universe to deduce the wisdom of the Creator.