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How old is the Earth?

Rabbi Ari ShvatIyyar 26, 5774
298
Question
As Orthodox Jews how do you view the age of the Earth. Is it 4.54 billion years as the mainstream scientific community may tell you of is it around 5700-6000 years old as the Tanakh and the Hebrew calendar may suggest if those are taken at face value?
Answer
The Jewish people obviously do not count the year as 2014 as Christians do, but as 5,774, which is the number of years we have consecutively counted since the creation of Adam (you can compute for yourself from the book of Genesis, but I can save you time- it computes properly!). Our rabbis teach us in the Midrash and Zohar (oral tradition, which was written down about 1,800 years ago), that G-d created previous worlds and destroyed them, and created different types of man, before the world and man as we know them. That explains why there are fossils dated millions, or possibly even billions of years old, while the world as we know it, began counting only 5,774 years ago with Adam. Maimonides (about 800 years ago) details the unbroken chain of Jewish tradition in his introduction to the Mishne Torah, and the Vilna Gaon traces his learning tradition in detail back to Maimonides. Accordingly, I personally am the 131st generation (the Vilna Gaon- 1797/5557, had a student R. Chaim of Volozhin who taught R. Yitzchak of Volozhin, who taught the Beit Halevy Soloveichik, who taught the Netziv, who taught Rav Av. Y. Kook, who taught R. Zvi Yehuda Kook who taught my teachers) of rabbis since Sinai, which was the 26th generation of the world, so my cute grandchildren are the 159th generation of mankind. Thank God for the nation of Israel who has this unbroken chain for anyone who is curious to know about what was and what will be (the history and the prophecies of the Bible). With Love of Israel! Rabbi Ari Shvat
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