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TORAH & SCIENCE-----age of the world


I promised “bbrown” answers to his questions, but to prove a point I promised I’d do it with my hands tied behind my back, so to speak. He claimed that “a yeshivishe guy in Lakewood or a chasidishe guy in Williamsburgh” won't find answers to these questions, and so we are forced to seek resolutions “on the other side”.

The truth is, the Torah has all the answers, always did, and you don’t need to rely on kefirah, non-halahic opinions, or useless attempts at pilpul to deal with any of this.

Here are the questions:

(a) whether a posuk can be not k'pshuto, and when we say ain mikrah yotzeh midei peshuto

(b) what do we answer the scientists when they tell us the world is billions of years old

(c) what time was like and what it means before the sun was created (d) if everything needs a creator who created G-d

(e) whether we are allowed to believe "unconventional" opinions written by reliable people, since psak din only applies to halachos and not hashkafa issues.

Now, to answer the scientists about the age of the world (b), we go to the Chasidishe guy in Williamsburgh.

Go to Divrei Yoel, Simchas Torah p.613. He quotes the Divrei Chaim (Chanuka p.45 col. 4), “Hashem manages the world in reality as well as in potential, for there are many things that never came to fruition. Even in nature we find this, for the scientists found a star whose orbit takes 36,000 years, yet the world is only 6,000 years old, as is stated in Avodah Zorah (9a) – did He create [this star] for nothing? So the scientists ask.

"I have heard that a wealthy man once asked this to the holy Ropshitzer Rebbe, who answered him in accordance with the attitude of the questioner, “Why must you examine hidden things? Our job is simply to serve Hashem based on our knowledge, and not to delve into hidden things.”

However, subsequently I found in a sefer of a great man, who was of the holy ones in the days of the Arizal and perhaps even much earlier than that, who brings this question and answers:

It is known that the universe was once in its most perfect state, but Adam corrupted it and caused a weakness in all of creation. And therefore, at the time of creation, if not for the sin of Adam our father, the movement (orbits) would have been fast; but now, because of the flaw caused by the Sin, the orbit has to wait 36,000 years. A similar idea is expressed by the Yaaros Dvash.”

The Divrei Chaim does not disclose the location of the Yaaros Dvash. But the Divrei Yoel identifies it as being in 2 places: Vol. I, Drush 1 and Drush 15. There, it quotes a Medrash (Rabbah 10:4) that before the Sin of Adam the Mazals operated much more rapidly and shorter. After the Sin, the Mazalos operated much slower and longer.

With this Medrash, he explains the fact that we pasken that both the opinion that the world was created in Nisan, and the opinion that the world was created in Tishri, are true. Says the Yaaros Dvash: because since the Mazalos operated much more rapidly before the Sin, it is possible that between the time the Mazalos were created on the 4th day, and the time Adam was created, on the 6th day, the Mazalos had already run their course from Nisan to Tishri. "

So there you have it --- the world may not be nearly as old as Slifkin thinks it is, but the question about the world seeming much older than 6000 years is much older than he thinks – it was dealt with literally 500 years ago, and, in the words of the Divrei Chaim, maybe much longer. And the idea is that before the Sin of Adam the nature of the world was completely different, such that it progressed much much faster that afterwards, and so, even though “on the clock” there were 6 days, in those 6 days the world progressed who knows how much, which completely skews that aging estimations. That’s why the world seems who knows how old even though it was created 6000 years ago.

And that’s from Chazal, quoted by Rav Yonason Eyebuschitz , and used by a Rishon – at the very latest, a contemporary with the Ari, and very possibly much earlier – to explain the seeming antiquity of the earth, an explanation cited by both the Divrei Chaim, and Satmar Rav.

For the next question – if everything needs a creator, who created the Creator, as I promised to use only Yeshivishe and Chasidishe seforim, I will show you that the Chazon Ish asks the question and answers it. However, since we already have learned on this site more than enough information to blow this question away, I am giving the frumteeners 48 hours to answer it themselves. I will get back to you on this then.


Anonymous said...

Rambam also has a choshuve shittah on this. He says that the six days of Bereishis are not really time periods at all.

amolam said...

where is this Rambam? (do you mean the Ramban?)

Anonymous said...

"The Rambam believed that there were not separate creative acts on six days, but rather everything was created on one day, in a single instant. In the work of Creation, there is mention of 'six days' to indicate the different levels of created beings according to their natural hierarchy; not that there were actual days, and nor that there was a chronological sequence to that which was created in the acts of Genesis… This is the view of the Rambam which he considered as one of the major secrets of the Creation." (Abarbanel, Commentary to Bereishis, p. 10)

Anonymous said...

One of the meforshim on the Rambam, Moreh Ha-Moreh, explains Rambam's shittah in more detail:
"It is in describing the hierarchy in reality (of everything in the universe) that we say Day One, Day Two — but not that they were created in a progressive sequence, as appears from the simple meaning of the Possuk. Rather, they were all created simultaneously. Only as a reflection of their purpose and importance does the Torah speak of the first, second, third, and the rest of the days. Understand this." (Moreh Ha-Moreh 2:30:9)

Zev said...

Wow, so according to Rambam the six days were not literally six days at all!

So what's wrong with saying that they were billions of years?

Fischel said...

Nothing at all. In fact R' Slifkin brings the Rambam as support for his approach.

Moyshe said...

1) Zev: what's wrong with it is that the Rambam feels theologically compelled to say that Creation, including Adam haRishon, took place instantaneously. How on earth can that be adduced to support the exact opposite proposition, that the universe came into existence billions of years ago and slowly developed??!!

2) See peirush haRamba"n at the beginning of bereshis that states conclusively that these were six 24-hour periods, exactly as we measure today, kipshuto shel mikra.

So you have a mahloket rishonim whether it took 6 x 24 hours, or, no time at all, to create everything up until and including the first man and woman. I don't see any room for these other fanciful theories to squeeze in.