And the angel of the Eternal appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said: “I must turn aside, and investigate this wondrous phenomenon, why the bush is not burnt.” Exodus 3:2-3
In this Torah chapter, Moses sees a strange sight – a burning bush not consumed by fire. His scientific curiosity is aroused and he does what any good scientist would do—he goes to investigate this “wondrous phenomenon.” Moses was the first scientist recorded by the Bible.
We, scientists, chase after wondrous phenomena to investing their nature. However, we often do it with arrogance, caring our own agenda and preconceptions. Torah teaches us otherwise, as G‑d warns Moses:
Take your shoes off your feet. The place upon which you are standing is holy ground. (Exodus 3:5)
Shoes are the symbol of arrogance—that is why Jews are prohibited from warring shoes on Yom Kippur, when we are supposed to humble ourselves. A scientist must be in a perpetual state of humility. We must remember that we investigate the world created by G‑d – the holy ground. Taking off shoes symbolizes shedding off arrogance and preconceived notions as we stand before the Creator in awe and wonder.
These are the lessons taught to us by the first scientist – Moses.