Ask the rabbi

  • Torah and Jewish Thought

Earth’s Birthday


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

28 Tishrei 5764
There are dilemmas today when in Jewish orthodox schools in the regular curriculum children are being taught about men’s first appearance in this earth dating back about a few millions years ago , also dating of the dinosaurs ,fossils etc. that could go back 600 millions years ago. Now within the religious history we only go back 5764 years ,altough some religious authorities tend to softly explain that 5764 years could be symbolic (since we are missing some key dating elements)others are very firm saying that 5764 years is exactly what it is. Could you explain where does the school of thought of the Rav Kook geared towards and how to deal with the dilemma for children?
Rav Kook sees the revelations of modern science as an impetus to deepening our understanding of the Torah on a more than simplistic level. The Torah is not just symbolic- it is the absolute truth. The absolute truth is, however, not limited to the material confines of the physical history of the world. How was the physical world and its laws created from beyond the physical? How did time and space come to be? Obviously, time was not formed within time and space. The laws of the physical universe were not set according to the as yet non-existent laws of the universe. Understanding of the Torah requires the expansion of our concepts of reality. You should explain to your children that the Torah- the word of G-d- is unquestionably true in all of its details but as Maimonides teaches, the understanding of Genesis is limited to the very few. Science teaches the history of the material world seen as a closed system.
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