Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8 )
GOOD MORNING! This week's Torah portion Bereishit, Genesis, deals with the creation of the world. In the last 200 years the Story of Creation has come under fire from Evolutionists. It is interesting that the Theory of Evolution is now coming under more and more attacks in recent times. (If it is of interest, you might want to check out Darwin on Trial as well as Neck of the Giraffe.) What goes around comes around. It is also interesting that after 200 years it is still a theory and not a proven mechanism. Fossils for the missing links have never been found. (Darwin, himself, said no less than 7 times in Origin of Species that to understand his theory one must ignore the fossil data.)
It is important to note, however, that evolution is not necessarily counter to the Torah. A God-directed evolution would be in sync with the Torah story of Creation (which would explain why the Torah uses the language, "and the earth brought forth living creatures...", Genesis 1:24); only the idea of a random evolution which negates the existence of the Almighty goes against the teachings of the Torah.
It is understandable that there are those who cling to a random (non-God guided) evolution; if there is a God, then He really might have given laws which restrict the way one leads his life and follows his desires. (There are two other problems with atheism: (1) Who do you thank when you feel really grateful for something? (2) There are no holidays.)
Our heritage welcomes questions. If, as we believe, there really is a God Who created the world, supervises it and sustains it, then there cannot be a contradiction with science. Sometimes popular scientific truths are in error. An example? In 1959, 2/3 of America's leading scientists surveyed, adamantly believed that the universe is eternal -- as Plato and Aristotle taught; six years later in 1965 with Penzias and Wilson's discovery of the radiation remnant of the Big Bang (i.e., of the creation event), those 2/3 of America's leading scientists changed their minds.
One of the all-time great questions that Bible critics and commentaries ask is, "How can the Torah tell us that the earth was created in 6 days when according to scientific testing and measurement, the earth is approximately 15 billion years old?" Now, that is a beautiful question!
This week I would like to bring an answer from physicist and former MIT professor, Dr. Gerald Schroeder, author of Genesis and the Big Bang as well as The Science of God. In an intriguing little paperback compiled by Doron Kornbluth, Jewish Matters -- A Pocketbook of Knowledge and Inspiration, Dr. Schroeder writes,
"Genesis, chapter 1, recounts for us the six days of creation. Day by day, the key events are ticked off. But wait. The Sun does not appear till day number four. So, how can there have been days before then? All ancient commentators who deal with the meaning of 'day' during creation week tell us that the term 'day' refers to a duration of time, and that duration was twenty-four hours, regardless of whether or not there was a Sun. Those first six days, we are told, were no longer than 'the six days of our workweek, but,' the commentators continue, 'those six days contained all the ages and all the secrets of the universe.'
"Days containing ages? Sounds strange. Nevertheless, that is what we twice read in Genesis: 'These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the DAY that the Eternal God made heaven and earth' (Genesis 2:4) and again, 'This is the book of the generations of Adam in the DAY that God created Adam' (Genesis 5:1).
"Generations within a day? It took an Einstein to discover how that could happen. The laws of relativity taught the world that the passage of time and the perception of time's flow varies from place to place in our most amazing universe. A minute on the moon passes more rapidly than a minute on the Earth. A minute on the Sun passes more slowly. The duration between the ticks of a clock, the beats of a heart, the time to ripen oranges, stretches and shrinks...
"The universe we live in is not static. It is expanding. The space of the universe is actually stretching. If we took a mental trip back in time, sending our information back to the moment from which Genesis views time, the effect of our mental trip would be to pass to a time when the universe was vastly smaller, in fact a million million times smaller than it is today. Space would have shrunk a million millionfold. This huge God of space would equally compress the perception of time for any series of events.
"To calculate the effect of that million million compression, we must divide the fifteen billion years we observe looking back in time by the million million. The result: a mere six days passed as viewed from the beginning. Which of course is just what Genesis, chapter 1, has been claiming for the past three thousand years. Genesis and the science of cosmology tell the same account, but seen from vastly different perspectives."
I realize that what is written above is highly compressed (and I even ellipsed part of it), perhaps even cryptic. It may even seem a "slight of hand" whipping it past too quickly to really understand it. If it intrigues you, however, I highly recommend The Science of God (pages 41-71) where Dr. Schroeder explains in much greater depth the science of relativity, dating the earth, the relationships between the epochs of creation and each day. It (as well as Jewish Matters) is available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242.
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 Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah describes the creation of the first man, "Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and that man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). What is a "living soul" and what does it imply?
Onkelos, the great translator of the Torah into Aramaic, defines the words "a living soul" as a soul which can speak. Man, then, is elevated above all animals for God has given him the ability to speak. The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, adds that this unique faculty elevates man only when he uses it for worthy purposes. Someone who misuses his speech by speaking against others is considered lower than a beast. A beast cannot destroy through talk, whereas man can slay with his tongue.
CANDLE LIGHTING - October 27:
Jerusalem 4:18 Miami 6:24 New York 5:40
L.A. 5:46 Hong Kong 5:33 Singapore 6:33
Guatemala 5:18 Honolulu 5:40 J'Burg 6:02
Melbourne 7:31 Moscow 4:43 London 5:25
Toronto 5:56 Montreal 5:30 Dallas 6:22 Chicago 5:32
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
A wise man knows what he says;
a fool says what he knows.