Happy new year. Or as my dad says, ‘you should have a good Kvittel.’
This week’s Parsha tells us about the beginning of our world. In 1905 Rav Kook was already dealing with the question of evolution, science, and the geological age of the world. His letter, written in Jaffa, appears in Igrot HaRe’iyah and offers four basic arguments.
- Prior to our counting of our era there were worlds that God had created and destroyed. (Midrash Bereishit Rabbah 3:7) The Zohar (Vayikra 10a) also states that other species existed beside Adam of the Torah.
- Scientific theories are not absolute and subsequent research can result in their discrediting or disproving.
- In Melachim Aleph 6:2 it refers to “the house that King Solomon built.” This does not include the process of building the Beit Hamikdash whereby consultants, architects, designers, craftsmen, and workers actually put it together. As Rav Kook says: So too, if God created life via the laws of evolution, these are details irrelevant to the Torah’s central message, namely, the ethical teaching of a world formed and governed by an involved Creator.
- The Torah reveals the story of creation in a way that is almost impossible to decipher. According to Rav Kook: Creation — which the mystics refer to as Ma’aseh Bereishit — clearly belongs to the esoteric part of Torah (see Chaggigah 11b).
Whether the six days of creation represent days, eras, or epochs, the unit of seven is a standard one in the organization of the world and of Torah. Seven days of the week correspond to seven years of Shmittah and seven Shmittahs of the Yovel (Jubilee year.)
In honour of the number seven here’s a seven layered salad that would be perfect for Seudat Shlishi – the Third Meal.
B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!