Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8 )
GOOD MORNING! Amongst the thousands of young men and women who come to Aish HaTorah's World Center in the Old City of Jerusalem overlooking the Western Wall, there are many with fascinating stories. Back in the late 70's a young man named Ted came through our doors after transversing the Asian continent from China to Israel.
You may remember the photograph in Time magazine of the group of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) which had taken over the president's office at Columbia. I particularly remember the young man, cigar in hand, with feet perched on the president's desk. Ted was in that group. After university, no medical school wanted a radical like Ted, so he traveled to China, learned the language and then proceeded to master Chinese medicine.
When Ted visited an Indian ashram he was impressed that the vast majority of students were Jewish. When I expressed dismay, Ted said, "Don't worry Rabbi, they are throwing more and more of them out each week!" "Why?" I asked, "Are they anti-Semitic?" "No," Ted replied, "It is just that the Jews ask too many questions."
Ted also visited a Buddhist monastery in Thailand and found that one of the Buddhist priests was one of his childhood friends from Brooklyn. Ted asked his buddy, "Goldberg, tell me the truth. You've been here ten years meditating eight hours a day. What have you gotten out of it?" Goldberg replied, "About 20 minutes of wisdom." And then Ted told me, "And Rabbi, I studied here at Aish for only a week and I bet I got at least ten minutes worth of wisdom!" (I think he meant it as a compliment.)
Ted went on to become one of the foremost authorities in Chinese medicine in the U.S. and dedicated his book in part to Rabbi Weinberg, the founder of Aish HaTorah, with thanks for the profound influence Aish had in reconnecting him to our heritage!
Q & A: IS RANDOM CHANCE EVOLUTION A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE TO CREATION?
It's been said that four people have changed the Western World -- Freud, Marx, Einstein and Darwin. Three were Jewish and one was mistaken.
The Theory of Evolution is an attempt to understand the infinite variety of life, yet tremendously ordered and purposeful universe, through a process of random chance -- that given enough time, random forces can accidentally produce order and life. This happens through spontaneous generation -- life arising from a primordial chemical soup and the eventual development of species via mutations.
Some of the problems scientists find with random chance evolution:
- "There is no evidence that a 'primeval soup' ever existed on this planet for any appreciable length of time." (Drs. J. Brooks & G. Shaw in "Critical Assessment of the Origin of Life")
- There are missing vital links in the fossil record. "The fossil material is now so complete that the lack of transitional series cannot be explained by the scarcity of the material." (Prof. N. Heribert-Nilsson, Lund University, Sweden)
- Mutations produce limited changes usually detrimental, but haven't produced new species. (Ernst Mayr, Harvard)
- The Second Law of Thermodynamics (Law of Entropy) describes the constant decay of order in the Universe as opposed to random forces creating order.
- The need for coordinated evolution of different random mutations --i.e. snakes "evolving" poison and immunity to their poison at the same time.
- The impossibility of randomly assembling even a simple bacterium (consisting of 2,000 enzymes) was calculated by Robert Shapiro, professor of chemistry at New York University to be one in 10 to the 39,950 power. Nobel laureate Fred Hoyle said that it was more likely that "a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the material therein."
- Roger Penrose, one of the top mathematicians, calculates the impossible probability of conditions for life coming together by chance as a number which "...even if we were to write a zero on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe -- and we could throw in all the other particles as well for good measure -- we should fall far short of writing down the figure..."
What is the purpose of trying to prove random evolution? Why has it been
so tenaciously adhered to with such wide acceptance in the face of so many
difficulties, even impossibilities? If life happened through randomness,
then one is freed of the only other conclusion: that there is a God Who
has rules and regulations on how we live -- and consequences for violating
them. It's food for thought.
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!
based on Insights in the Torah by Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin
The Torah begins with the verse, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Rashi, the "Father of all Commentators" asks, inasmuch as the Torah is primarily an instruction book for the Jewish people, why does it start with the Creation rather than with the first mitzvah, commandment, given to the Jewish people?
Answers Rashi, "Should the nations of the world ever say to the Jewish people 'you are robbers -- you conquered the land (of Israel from) the seven (Caananite) nations,' the Jewish people can respond 'the whole earth is the Almighty's. He created it ... by His wish He gave it to them and by His wish He gave it to us."
How were the nations of the world to learn this lesson? When entering into the land of Israel, the Almighty commanded the Jewish people to write the Torah in 70 languages on stones by the Jordan river and at Mt. Eival. The Talmud, Sota 35a, relates that the nations sent scribes to copy it. Why did the Almighty dispossess other nations of their land rather than give the Jewish people an empty land? To drive home the lesson, "You shall keep my statutes and ordinances and not do all of these abominations (that the seven Caananites did) ... lest the land vomit you out as it did the nation that was before you." (Leviticus 18:26-28).
CANDLE LIGHTING - October 12:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:27 Hong Kong 5:51 Honolulu 5:52
J'Burg 5:54 London 5:58 Los Angeles 6:05
Melbourne 6:15 Miami 6:38 Moscow 5:22
New York 6:03 Singapore 6:36
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Killing time damages eternity.