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Bereishit 5773

Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! Did God create the world or did it always exist? From the Torah the answer is clear, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). However, how about the scientists? What do they believe? Lawrence Kelemen sheds light on the question in his book, Permission to Believe.

Until the early 20th century the astronomers had 3 models for the Universe:

1) The Static Universe -- the Universe was either created or always existed. Mutual gravitation attraction keeps planets and stars together in solar systems and galaxies.

2) The Oscillating Universe -- the Universe expands and contracts. The Universe expands outwards until the gravitational forces slow the expansion, pulls everything back together for a cosmic implosion/explosion -- which starts the cycle again. This could have been created by God or have existed forever.

3) The Open Universe -- the Universe continually expands outwards until the stars burn out. "Such a universe could never bring itself back to life. It would come into existence at a moment in history, blaze gloriously, and then pass into irrevocable night." This model posits that all matter and energy was contained in a singularity, a dot that sat stable before it detonated. The paradox: Objects at rest remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force; since all matter and energy is in the singularity, what outside force could cause it to explode? This model of the universe implies a supernatural Creator -- God -- Who initiated the universe.

In 1916 Albert Einstein presented the world with his Theory of Relativity revealing the deepest secrets of the universe. However, scientists noted glitches in the theory. Only if the universe was continually expanding would the Theory of Relativity work.

How did Einstein respond? When Willem de Sitter, a Danish astronomer, sent Einstein a detailed response, Einstein ignored it. When Soviet mathematician Alexander Friedmann wrote Einstein in 1922 with his independently derived conclusion that the universe must be expanding in all directions at high speed, Einstein balked at the idea. When American astronomer Vesto Slipher actually observed through the Lowell Observatory telescope dozens of galaxies shooting away from a central point, Einstein resisted.

Einstein wrote a letter to a prestigious technical journal Zeitschrift fur Physik calling Friedmann's suggestions "suspicious" and to de Sitters' conclusion of an expanding universe, he wrote that it "...irritates me." In 1925 after examining the evidence presented by Edwin Hubble that every galaxy within the power of his telescope, the largest in the world, was receding, Einstein conceded that "New observations by Hubble ... make it appear likely that the general structure of the universe is not static."

In 1965 two Bell Lab scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were calibrating a supersensitive microwave detector when they picked up a steady, three-degree Kelvin (3K) hum. They researched the literature and found an article by a student of Alexander Friedmann predicting that a remnant microwave radiation of the Big Bang should be detectable around five-degree Kelvin. And that's how they won the Nobel prize.

The "3K hum" was the death blow to the Static Model of Universe. The only question left: "Has the Big Bang happened numerous times -- or was this a one time only explosion?" The first model worked without God, the second one did not.

For 15 years scientists investigated the average density of the universe to determine if there was enough mass to stop the expansion and reverse of the universe. There wasn't. Dr. Robert Jastrow, Director of NASA Goddard Center for Space Studies, headed the project. His final observation is worth pondering:

"This is an exceedingly strange development unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible, "In the beginning God created heave and earth" ... (But) for the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance. He is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."


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Torah Portion of the Week

The Five Books of Moses begins with the Six Days of Creation, the Shabbat, the story of the Garden of Eden -- the first transgression, consequences and expulsion; Cain & Abel, the ten generations to Noah, the Almighty sees the wickedness of man in that generation and decrees to "blot out man" (i.e. the flood).

One of the most profound verses in the whole Torah is "And God created man in His own Image." Since God does not have a physical being, this means that we are endowed with free-will, morality, reason and the ability to emulate God Who bestows kindness. Also, if we really appreciate that we are created in the image of God, we realize that we have intrinsic worth. Therefore, there is no need to be depressed wondering if you have intrinsic worth!

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"In the beginning the Almighty created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

What can we learn from this verse?

Says Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz: As soon as you start studying Torah, right from the first verse you become aware that there is a Creator and Ruler of the universe. This first awareness already makes a major change in you for the rest of your life. You realize that there is a reason for everything. The world has meaning and purpose.

Without meaning in life -- even if you accomplish very much, have health and wealth, fame and fortune -- there is a strong feeling that something is missing. It is. Without meaning there is no real enjoyment or satisfaction. Yes, a person can have moments of excitement, joy, and even ecstasy. However, they are short-lived. When the high feelings settle down, there is emptiness. Nothing seems to really matter.

As soon as you internalize the awareness that there is a Creator of the universe, you see plan and purpose. There is an inner glow and a drive for spiritual growth. Those who lack this realization see only the external actions and behaviors of those who live with the reality of the Almighty. They are unaware of the rich inner life of such a person.

The true believer in the Creator is a fortunate person. He is the only one on the planet one should envy. He sees divinity in every flower and tree and in every blade of grass. He sees the design of the Creator in every living creature. He sees something special in every human being. His life, regardless of how it unfolds, is full of purpose and meaning. While he appreciates this world as a gift of the Creator, he looks forward to an eternity of existence. This is the profound message of the first verse of the Torah!


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AISH FACT: -- one of the foremost providers of Torah on the internet. Think of a topic -- and has brilliant, clear speakers in English for download. I highly recommend Rabbi Noah Weinberg's "48 Ways" -- and other lectures. Turn drive time into growth time!



Impediments were given to us to overcome,
not to wallow in
-- Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis


In Memory of

Jerry Hahn

with love, Lynn


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