Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Seven Deadly Topics #1 -- Creation of the Universe

So, in my last little post, I said how much pride we take in believing our side is the Right Side™.

What happens when we, as fallible, prideful humans with personal pet theories, are proved wrong? We get angry, that's what. And that's exactly what happened to me today.

You see, I was toodling along in my pride of holding such a lovely, ecumenical, broad view of the Scripture and Science and their interesection. I was reading, which is a Conservative Jewish site. And I stumbled across this article called The Age of the Universe and found out that I wasn't the first one to have the same idea! Trumped by some old, dead guys!

Now where do we make the zero point? On Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, upon blowing the shofar, the following sentence is said: "Hayom Harat Olam -- today is the birthday of the world."

This verse might imply that Rosh Hashana commemorates the creation of the universe. But it doesn't. Rosh Hashana commemorate the creation of the Neshama, the soul of human life. We start counting our 5700-plus years from the creation of the soul of Adam.

We have a clock that begins with Adam, and the six days are separate from this clock. The Bible has two clocks.

That might seem like a modern rationalization, if it were not for the fact that Talmudic commentaries 1500 years ago, brings this information. In the Midrash (Vayikra Rabba 29:1), an expansion of the Talmud, all the Sages agree that Rosh Hashana commemorates the soul of Adam, and that the Six Days of Genesis are separate.

Why were the Six Days taken out of the calendar? Because time is described differently in those Six Days of Genesis. "There was evening and morning" is an exotic, bizarre, unusual way of describing time.


At 11 February, 2006, Blogger Pisco Sours said...

I'm formerly Jewish (or depending on one's reckoning, still am, kinda) and the fact that the Jewish calendar dates from the creation of Adam rather than the creation of the universe was news to me. I learned something new today. Thanks!

At 20 February, 2006, Blogger jimmy said...

Fascinating! The plot thickens...

At 14 June, 2006, Anonymous DeanB said...

Midrash is a little different from Talmud. It's more like ideas from sermons, "the best of the ancient rabbis." Certainly midrash is a wonderful source of ideas for more sermons and you're absolutely right that it shows that there's an ancient precedent for rejecting a literal six days. But think of anything in midrash (that "rabbah" is the tip-off to midrash) more as "the Jewish tradition includes the idea that..." rather than "the Jewish tradition is that..."

On the other hand, I'm not looking at the source as I write this.

On yet another hand, my own opinion is that the Bible has more than one clock because it has more than one author, but that's a separate can of worms.

I found you from a comment you left on RenReb, and I like your attitude of let's forget the theological details and concentrate on being decent people.


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