Avodah Mailing List

Volume 13 : Number 095

Thursday, September 9 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 2004 08:11:32 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <rygb@aishdas.org>
RE: Age of the Universe

At 03:09 PM 9/8/2004, [RNS] wrote:
>>Bereishis 1:1 alludes to the pre-existing creation; the following pesukim
>>describe the re-creation at the beginning of this cycle.

>Sorry, I am still not entirely clear as to what you are saying. Please
>elaborate; does this mean that the sun and moon existed for millions of
>years (in the previous cycles), then ceased to exist, then were created
>anew 5764 years ago? And that, for a period, there was no dry land until
>the waters receded 5764 years ago?

It does not say the sun and moon were created on the fourth day.

Yes, there was no dry land for a period until the waters receded.

[Email #2 -mi]

At 03:25 PM 9/8/2004, you wrote:
>> We've been down this road before. Ha'me'ayein yivchar. I repeat: No
>> reputable source allows for a chronicle in Tanach to be dismissed as
>> the Spero school does.

>But WE weren't discussing the "Spero School" (and shouldn't that be "R'
>Spero School"?) -- we've been discussing whether or not ANYTHING can
>be allegorized.

The short answer remains no. This is evident from Ralbag's strong
dismissal of those who allegorized parts of Bereishis that he did not
and would not. Since we lack understanding of how the Ralbag was able
to distinguish between allegory and non-allegory, we may not allegorize
anything. Moreover, since the Ralbag is but one isolated source against
myriad sources that strongly disagree, it is improper to base an entire
approach on his ambiguous basis.

>And, as usual when we go down this road, list members have been bringing
>a long list of Gaonim, Rishonim, Acharonim, and contemporary Gedolim
>who allow allegorization. Some allow more allegorization than others,
>to be sure, but there certainly are "reputable sources" (like the Rambam)
>who seem to allow allegorization near to or at the "Spero School" level
>(given convincing scientific reasons).

As I have noted, the Rambam does NOT allow allegorization. No other 
"reputable sources" have been cited.


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Date: Thu, 09 Sep 2004 17:30:44 +0300
From: Zoo Torah <zoorabbi@zootorah.com>
RE: Age of the Universe/ Non-literal explanations

I previously wrote:
>As a study of the Avodah archives will show, I wasn't citing the Ralbag 
>as precedent for allegorizing the Mabul, which was not the topic of 
>conversation at any time. I was citing it to refute your blanket 
>statement that to allegorize the Torah is unacceptable, which is what 
>we were discussing - whether allegory is *ever* acceptable. I think it 
>refutes it, no?

To which RYGB replied:
>It does not. While it shows that elements in an account may be
>understood as allegory, it also shows that the existence of the 
>account's principals and the reality of the events must be taken 
>literally - at odds with the Spero school.

Why on earth does RYGB keep talking about the "Spero school"? Rabbi Spero
states that the entire story of Noach and the Flood was allegorical. I
was never discussing Noach and the Flood. I was only ever discussing
alleogrizing some limited portions of Bereishis. Plenty of people who
reject R' Spero's approach to Noach nevertheless accept my approach to
Bereishis. Once again, I am asking RYGB to refrain from dragging this
discussion into a different direction.

To clarify matters (again!), the conversation began with my allegorizing
the word "day" and the order of the days of Bereishis. To which RYGB
responded with a blanket assertion that allegory is unacceptable, and
that those who hold that Rambam allegorized certain parts of the Gan
Eden story are mistaken, because it is inconceivable that even these
parts alone could be allegorical. I cited the Ralbag, who allegorizes the
entire reality of the incident with the snake/tree/eating the fruit. This
refutes RYGB's blanket dismissal of allegory.

RYGB now states that Ralbag shows that "elements" in an account may
indeed be understood allegorically. This surely means that it would have
been acceptable for Rambam to learn this way, too (Ralbag explicitly
states that he is going less far than Rambam). This would also contradict
RYGB's position that Rambam could not possibly have written what everyone
understands him to have written.

In RYGB's new position, it is only the "principals" of the account that
must be taken literally. (And also the "reality of events", but I don't
what that means - of course anything that is reality is not allegorical,
but the point under discussion is what the reality was!) Well, I don't
know how you can define the entire incident with the snake, tree of
knowledge, and sin of eating, as not being a "principal" of the account
- it's nineteen pesukim and a complete and signficant story in and of
itself! And we see that Ralbag takes it allegorically.

In another post, RYGB stated that to allegorize Adam being created from
earth is wrong and perhaps assur. Adam's origins are certainly far less
of a principal part of the story than is the whole episode of the snake
and tree! It is a mere element of the story, and even according to RYGB,
Ralbag theoretically permits allegorizing elements. Also, in light of the
recent revelation that Rav Nadel z'l allegorized Adam's origins, based on
the license given in the Rishonim, it wouldn't seem like such a good idea
to describe it as wrong and perhaps assur. Or at least, we can comfortably
dismiss the opinion of RYGB, and side with Rav Nadel z"l instead.

In a previous post, I wrote:
>I know a bit about Rav Yosef Kapach. He was a dayan on the Beis Din
>HaGadol of Yerushalayim. Furthermore, he was regarded as one of the
> greatest experts on Rambam. He translated many of Rambam's writings,
> including Moreh Nevuchim itself, from the original Arabic, aside from his
> monumental edition of Mishneh Torah which incorporated 300 commentaries. I
> am astonished that RYGB can state without qualms that Rav Kapach is not
> exactly a great pillar of strength on which to base my understanding of
> Moreh Nevuchim.

> I am also astounded that RYGB apparently expects us to accept his
> interpretation of Moreh Nevuchim over that of two Rishonim, a major Acharon,
> and a contemporary gadol who was specifically renowned for his expertise in
> Rambam.

To this, RYGB responsed:
>Don't be astonished. You obviously do not know RYGB too well if you 
>are. It is self evident to anyone who takes the time to look that the 
>Rambam was not interpreting Bereishis chap. 1-2 as would the Spero 

First of all, once again, we are being sidetracked into Noach. Who
was claiming that Rambam was interpreting Bereishis in line with the
Spero school? Instead of the misleading phrase "the Spero school," let's
substitute "broad allegorization of an entire parshah," which is what R'
Spero did.

RYGB, you are correct, it is indeed self-evident that Rambam was not
allegorizing the entire parashah of Bereishis 1-2.

However, that is not what anyone was claiming.

For the zillionth time, the point being discussed was whether Rambam
allegorized certain elements of the Gan Eden story.

It was not self-evident to two Rishonim, a major Acharon, and a
contemporary gadol who was specifically renowned for his expertise in
Rambam, that Rambam was not interpreting certain events allegorically. In
fact, it was self-evident to them that he was indeed interpreting certain
quite significant events allegorically.

I made two points. One was that I was astonished that RYGB described
Rav Kapach as not exactly a great pillar of strength on which to base
my understanding of Moreh Nevuchim. RYGB did not respond to this point,
but he does not need to do so.

My second point was that I was astounded that RYGB apparently expects us
to accept his interpretation of Moreh Nevuchim over that of two Rishonim,
a major Acharon, and a contemporary gadol who was specifically renowned
for his expertise in Rambam. In accordance with RYGB's suggestion, I am
no longer astounded. But I will still reject his lone view in favor of
that of the consensus of more senior authorities.

RYGB asked for the reference to R' Kapach's account. It is in his footnote
to Mishne Torah, Hilchos Shabbos 5:3.

Kol tuv
Nosson Slifkin

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Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 10:42:54 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Torah as Allegory

In a message dated 9/7/2004 7:52:43 AM EDT, mslatfatf@access4less.net writes:
> Please excuse my ignorance....
> And if parts of the Torah are an allegory, then who says that Matan Torah
> and/or Yetzias Mitzrayim ever really happened - maybe the _entire_ Torah
> is an allegory - and none of it is literally true? And if it's because
> we have a 3000 year old kabbalah, than we have to take into account that
> they had a 2500 year kabbalah about B'riyas Ha'Olam happening 2500 years
> before. If our Kabbalah is literal, why shouldn't their's be?

As Pharisaic Jews, we never took the entire Torah as literal. However
there are specifics instansces that require us to accept passages
as literal.

The simple answer is that some passages are meant to be understood
literally and others are not. How do you know which ones are which?
That is where the Oral Tradition comes into play...

The Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim {Guide to the Perplexed} addresses this
issue in great detail.

Also, if you read some passages in the Torah with a Mikraos Gedolos
or Mossad harav kook's Toras Chaim you can get a wide range of
interpretations on any given passage.

K'siva vaChasima Tova!
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 09:52:45 -0400
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Ikkarim (again??)

From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
> Who said the navi must be alive at the time in order for one to be
> obligated to listen to him?

The Rambam (SHM Aseh #172) says this mitzvah applies only to horaoth
shaah. As far as I know no prophetic horaoth shaah were still operative
in the middle ages.

In any case, the philosopher of the Kuzari did mitzvos, he just didn't
believe they came from God (kind of like the Hachmai Umoth HaOlam
in R. Zalman Volozhiner's reading of the Rambam in H. Melachim).
So presumptively he would have obeyed prophetic decrees as well.

> Someone who doesn't believe nevu'ah is possible can't believe in Torah
> miSinai. Another one of the 613.

Really? Where's that? AFAIK the only mitzvoth concerning belief the
Rambam lists are existence and unity of God.

David Riceman

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Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 13:19:11 -0400
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Age of the Universe (Maharal, Rambam, Ramban)

"I personally agree with the Maharal, that ma'aseh bereishis as a 
historical event is totally incomprehensible. To think that either 
nevu'ah or chokhmah can capture it is a mistake. 

"Notice that the Maharal is has no problem with the idea that Bereishis 
1 is allegory. (Of course, he would think that science is also only 
capable of approximating the truth.) Nor did the Rambam."

1. Maharal

I do not see the Maharal the way RMB does. Maharal does not treat the
entire parsha of braishis as an incomprensible allegory. On the contrary,
he takes the p'sukim as they are, accepting the facts and sequence of
events as presented, and derives profound lessons from them:

In Derech Chaim. p. 215, perek Chamishi, Maharal understands the sequence
of Cration to be as presented in the pesukim.

In Derech Chaim pp. 236-7, Maharal speaks of the six days of Creation
plainly as six days with evenings and mornings and bain hashmashos.

In Ner MItzvah, pp. 23-4, Maharal identifies the days as specific calendar
days of seasons and months.

In Be'ar HaGolah, pp. 82-3, Ba'er R'vi'i, Maharal rejects the literal
meaning of the Aggada that physical worlds were "built and destroyed"
before Creation, and instead inteprets it as a reference to spiritual

In Gevuros Hashem, p. 33, Perek Chamishi, Maharal, just as Ramban,
applies the concept of "One day of Hashem is like a thousand human years"
to the the 6,000 years from Creation and on, not to before Creation.

And, in Derech Chaim p. 69, Perek Sheyni, Maharal points out that Adam was
created upright in contrast to all other creatures; there were no other
upright creatures or "hominids" in existence at this one man's creation.

What then of his statement about ma'asreh b'reishis being incomprehensible?

The Maharal, (Gevuros Hashem, Hakdama Rishonah), like the Rambam,
is bothered by the concept of Ex Nihilo. HOW can something come out of
absolute nothingness? And how can rivers bring forth fish, and how can the
earth bring forth animals and a human being? This was (and probably still
is) a philosophical problem that was thrown in the face of Creationists,
and which was (and probably is) beyond human comprehension. It is to
that issue, the HOW of the facts presented in the parsha, that both the
Rambam and the Maharal are referring when they declare [the basic premise
of] parshas Braishis "incomprehensible" (Maharal: even through nevuah)
-- not the WHAT of the facts, the fact of the process as presented in
the parsha. (Amud bais: "Badava HAZEH, she-hu HIMATSAY HaOlom, V'AICH
YATZA L'Pal HAMETSTSIOS she-zehu kodem hi-mats-o, HU nivdal l'gamrei min
ha=adam...") The facts that the animals came from the earth and did not,
for instance, descend from other forms of life, and that same of the first
human being, are not questioned. (Interestingly both the Rambam and the
Maharal cite the same posuk, The Glory of G-d is a hidden thing, and the
glory of kings is to investigate a thing (Mishlay 25:) The meaning of
"six days" is left unimpuned. Indeed, Maharal mentions "the six days of
Creation" repeatedly in his writings (A CD-ROM search came up with over
150 results for "y'mei b'reishis" in the works of Maharal, and none so
mush as hint that it means anything other than a 24 hour day.

2. The Rambam:

True, the Rambam in the introduction to MN writes, regarding Scripture's
account of Creation, that many terms used throughout the parsha are not
meant literally. But, as he goes on to illustrate many times over, he
is referring to anthropomorphic terms, such as "image of G-d'" or "G-d
walking in the breeze of the day." This is not a wholesale disregard of
the facts and sequences the Torah presents us with.

On the contrary, the Rambam says, specifically regarding ma'aseh
b'raishis, that unless absolutely forced to say otherwise by clear proofs,
we should follow the pashtus ha'kra. He doesn't dismiss the whole parshas
B'raishis as allegory, but considers it full of deep concepts beyond, but
not instead of, those that are stated. He treats each word separately
and seriously, carefully defining words that need to be understood
correctly, such as. (And, incidentally, he does not see any need to define
"yom." "Yom" he takes for granted is one turning of the celestial sphere.)

When Rambam states again (near end of MN 2:17) that the parsha of ma'aseh
b'raishis is not to be taken al pi pshuto, he then ( 2:30) refers us
to the shita that "G-d created the Heavens and the Earth" means that
the Heavens were created before, and not simultaneously with, the Earth,
and that the p'sukim saying Hashem did this thing the second day and that
thing the third day, means that those things were first created on those
days, as opposed to the (likewise talmudically supported) p'shat that
everything was simultaneously created ex nihilo on Day One, only to be
"brought out" and placed in their proper positions the following five
days--quite in conformance with the way the p'sukim read; quite not
like the evolutionary theory regarding either the process of species
formation or its attendant aeons-long time span.

(By the way, it's noteworthy that the Rambam's approach is that when there
is a conflict between pashtei d'kra and maamarei Chazal, one should treat
the p'sukim al pi p'shutom, and the Chazal as unliteral or figurative.)

3. Bonus: The Ramban:
The Ramban, too, explains what aspect of Maaseh B'raishis he considers
"unfathomable" through the p'sukim. It's not any reinterpretation of "six
days." In explaining why R' Yitzchak says that (if not for demonstrating
our claim to Eretz Yisrael) there would be no reason to begin the Torah
with any of the stories in Parshios Braishis through Noach, he explains R'
Yitzchak as holding that all of the Torah's accounts up to the descendants
of Noach and Migdal are unnecessary. "For," states Ramban, (specifically
in reference to Creation, which he declares to be shoresh ha'emunah,
in opposition to the idea of an olom kadmon) "it would be sufficient
to state that Hashem created the world..." and Ramban does not end his
sentence there. He writes, "It would be sufficient to state that Hashem
created the world in six days. There is no need, he explains, to give the
details of "what was created the first day, and what was made/perfected
the second day, nor to elaborate, as the Torah does, on Adam and Eve
and their sin and punishment and Gan Eden and their banishment from
it." Why not? Because all of these things cannot be fully understood
from the p'sukim. Not because the section on Creation took place over
any other time than that which is stated: six days. "It is sufficient
for Torah-people," says Ramban, "without these verses. They will (know
to) believe in the general idea, (when it is) mentioned in the Asseress
HaDibros, 'For six days Hashem created the Heavens and the Earth..."

What aspect of Creation is hidden, because it is "unfathomable to
flesh and blood," and therefore "left unsaid?" Not "the duration of the
world," but "koach maaseh b'raishis." The Ramban is talking concepts
so intellectually challenging that ordinary intellects cannot grasp
them. The Ramban is talking about additional information not mentioned,
not reinterpretation of information given. The Ramban says that the
kabbalistic meaning behind the words of B'raishis cannot be fathomed
from the Chumash's words, without a kabbalah going back to Moshe
Rabbeynu. This, however, does not give license to ignore what is written
in the Torah or to ignore or relinquish the explanations and classical,
overall sense and approach to b'raishis as taught by our Tannaim, Amoraim,
Gaonim and Rishonim.

[Email #2. -- mi}

"We aren't Kara'im, what the Torah says is NOT necessarily what is peshat
in the pasuq. Until RZLampel shows the numerous ma'amarei Chazal he feels
insist that yeish mei'ayin was less than 6,000 years ago, I see little
reason to believe this is the Torah's position. As far as I can tell,
it was the shitah of a mi'ut -- until the 19th century, when many of us
dug in our heals."

(From Rambam's Maamar T'chiyyas HaMeisim, opening words:) "It is not far
from possible for someone to endeavor to make a premise clear and simple,
and strive to expunge any ambiguities and dispense with any renditions --
yet [see others who] will understand from [his very words] the reverse
of that premise. Such has occured with the words of Hashem yisborach,
[when He stated] that He is One, and there is no other, and Who, in
order to remove from our souls the defective concepts believed by the
Dualists, clearly stated regarding this point, 'Hear O Israel, Hashem our
G-d, Hashem is One.' Yet they bring a proof from this very posuk that
the Alm-ghty is a trinity, and they say, 'He said, "Hashem our G-d,"
and He said, "Hashem," behold: these are three Names; and He then said
"One"--a proof that they are three and the three are One!'!"

This Rambam comes to mind when I hear of the strange interpretations
people suggest to avoid the clear premise Hashem sets up for us in the
Torah, that the world was created in six days. Hashem details this in
Braishis. He repeats it in Sh'mos 20:11 ("For six days G-d made the
Heavens and the Earth"), and again in Sh'mos 31:17 ("Between Me and
B'nay Yisrael this will be a sign forever, that in six days Hashem made
the Heavens and the Earth..."), and Chazal have instituted that we refer
to this fact every Shabbos and Yom Tov. Yet some suggest that we ignore
these clear words that are staring us in the face, in deference to an
ever-morphing alternative to Creation, propelled by a discipline which,
in principle and by self-definition, arbitrarily refuses to consider
the reasonable possibility of a six-day Creation. What could Hashem say
to make His intent clearer? And I've yet to see, in the two-thousand
year literature of our ba'alei mesorah, any profound concepts that are
supposedly derivable from a supposed disguising, as six days, of the
"real" time Hashem took in creating the universe; I've yet to see any
lessons that supposedly are to be learned, that would go untaught,
had Hashem instead written parshas B'raishis in terms of millenia,
or in no reference at all to the time involved.

I have promised to show that our mesorah insists that the six days of
creation, counting from the first creative act (not just from Adam's
creation--nor, in a rather odd interpretation, from his "ensoulment"),
were six literal days. One cannot insert the evolutionary explanation
into the p'sukim by claiming that the days were actually billions of
years. Even the idea that Creation was anything less than a totally
miraculous process, not conducted through natural processes at all, --
"accelerated" or otherwise -- is rejected by the Mahara (Ba'er HaGolah,
p. 83, Ba'er Four):

"And now, know furthermore and understand these things, that they
hinted to in this very deep matter; know that He, yisborach, brought out
these creations, all of them, to physical reality during the six days
of Braishis by Himself, in His Glory--not, by means of an agent, i.e.,
Nature, as opposed to the way it became after the six days of Braishis,
in which Hashem Yisborach conducts His world by means of the agent,
i.e., Nature."

Indeed, as mentioned in another post, my CD-ROM search for the words
"y'may braishis" in the works of Maharal produced over 150 results,
and not one hint that they mean to imply anything other than 24-hour days.

As a matter of fact, what bothers Chazal, and as elaborated upon by the
Maharal, are the extra steps (and time involved) of the "ten ma'a'maros"
that Hashem took in creating the world, as opposed to creating everything
in one "ma'a'mar" (and in one second).

(Note: I am very much aware that RMB's opinion is not to accept current
evolutionary theory as fact, but that on the other hand, according to his
understanding of Maharal, the entire Creation episode is incomprehensible,
and not to be understood as is presented in the p'sukim. I will get to
this later.)

First, a Gemora:

Chagiga 12a:
Said Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav: Ten things were CREATED ON THE FIRST
DAY: Heaven and Earth, TOHU VA-VOHU, Light and Darkness, Ruach and Mayyim,
MIDDASS YOM AND MIDDAS LAYLA. (I.e., "tohu va-vohu" did not precede Day
One, but were part of it. And how long was day one?--)

Rashi: MIDDASS YOM AND MIDDAS LAYLA--The length of day and the length
of night: 24 HOURS COMBINED.

Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim makes it clear that when confronted with Aggadic
statements that contradict the p'shat and/or reality, the Aggadta must not
be taken literally. Thus he rejects the literal meaning of even talmudic
statements that assign the concept of time to "before" Creation. The
sefer Ikkarrim, the Ramban, Rabbeynu Saadiuah Gaon, and the Maharal
(for one instance, in Ba'er HaGolah, Amud 82-3, Ba'er HaR'vi'vi) all
follow this approach. These ba'alei mesorah either reject or reinterpret
such Aggadta so as not to conflict with the simple understanding that
Creation began and ended within seven literal days.anything

This is why the Torah Temimah (not being an Avodah lurker) is puzzled
by the necessity of the above Gemorah. Isn't it obvious, he wonders,
that all these things were created the first day?

Following along with this sense of things:

Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 2:30):... if [as the p'shat appears] there were [as
yet] no [celestial] sphere and no sun, how was the first day timed?... The
foundation of the entire Torah is that Hashem brought the world into
being from out of nothingness. [This was] not "at the beginning of Time,"
for Time [itself] was created. For time depends upon the movement of the
[celestial] sphere, and [although the sun and stars were not yet put in
position,] the sphere was created. [ZL: That is how there were 24-hour
days: through the revolution of the celestial sphere or, in our parlance,
through the 24-hour rotation of the earth.]

Ramban (Breishis 1:3):
the first created thing, the "tohu," being the equivelant of the formless
matter of Greek fame. He assigns no time-frame to the phase of "tohu,"
but there is no basis to suggest that he disagrees with the Gemora that
explicitly includes the "tohu" phase among those things created within
the first day (of 24 hours), as the poshut reading of the posuk implies.


And THAT EARTH CREATED THEN was a thing composed of... (I.e., tohu va-vohu
was the first state of the universe upon the universe's creation; there
was no time between "Braishis bara" and "V'ha'areta hayssa so-hu va-vohu,"
as suggested by some. Likewise:)

Ibn Ezra:
LAND, the earth was uninhabited.

Moses gave this entire parshah of the m'leches of the six days as an
introductory preparation to explain what Hashem said at Mattan Torah,
"Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it, etc., for six days Hashem made
the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in it, and he ceased
on the seventh day. And this is why he wrote, "And it was morning and
it was evening, THE sixth day--THAT six, upon which he finished the
six days of which Hashem spoke of at Mattan Torah. Therefore Moses
told Israel, to make sure they know that the word of Hashem is true,
"Do you think that this world has always been fashioned as you see it
now--full of all goodness? It was not so. No, B'raishis bara elokim,
TIME, THE WORLD WAS TOHU VA-VOHU. (ZL: Note: Do not jump on the words,
"whether a long or short time" to attempt to attribute to Rashbam the
idea that millenium passed between the beginning of "tohu va-vohu"
and "Yehi Ohr," to insert millenia of evolutionary processes leaving
physical evidence of plant and animal development which evolutionists
have discovered. For Rashbam, along with all the others, define "tohu
va-vohu" as a state of no developments:) THAT THERE WAS NOT IN THEM

After Scripture clarified the fact of the creation of the heavens and
the earth, it comes to clarify HOW THEIR SITUATION WAS NOW, IN THEIR
BEING CREATED (ba l'baer ata aich hayya inyanam B'B'RIATHAM)... and
regarding this it says that the earth was tohu...

Rabbeynu B'chaya:
And all these great ikkarim are clarified from this parashah: It tells
us first, that the world is created m'chudash, ex nihilo. After its
first being tohu va-vohu He created all the existing things in six days,
and on the seventh He created Adam....

This is not to be explained as that before its creation it had been
tohu va-vohu...

Notice how all the meforshim speak plainly, if not pointedly, of six days
in a natural sense, and of the tohu vavohu state beginning immediately
upon Creation, and of all the creation (including the tohu vavohu)
being encompassed within the first 24-hour day. The burden of proof
would be on anyone suggesting that the p'sukim's words mean anything
other than a normal day, and/or that the tohu va-vohu state did not begin
until some time after Creation, with millennia in between (filled with
evidence-leaving, aging physical entities. To continue:

Even though He separated the Light and the Darkness, so that that they
would serve at different times not through the revolution of the sphere,
he still separated them in stages in such a way that there would be
between them a time of evening [gradually] developing into night, and
a time of morning [gradually] developing into [full] daylight.

Ibn Ezra:
"Yom echad" is a reference to the turning of the sphere... And after it
said that the Light should be called Day, it is not possible to call
the evening "Day." The only payrush is: It was evening, and [then]
it was also a morning of one day.

As to the question of how the first days were timed, if there was not
yet the revolving of the celestial sphere, [the answer is that] that
first Light was an entity spread through space through the will of the
Creator, for an allocated time, in which was the day; and it disappeared
an allocated amount of time, which was night; and that Light came in
graduations of morning and evening and noon. Through this, then, were the
days timed in hours and minutes [not years and decades and millenia--ZL]
just as the latter, natural days were [later] timed by the revolution
of the celestial sphere. (Malbim explains it the same way.)

Since the six days of creation were days whose duration was that of
six revolutions of the sphere (or, in our parlance, six rotations of
the earth--we always get into trouble when we assume current scientific
theory as truth), the time the earth existed from its Creation was barely
a week longer than it is from the time that Adam was created. Thus:

Rabbaynu Saadia Gaon (Sefer Emunah V'haDeyoss, end of first chapter):
"And the third opinion, the opinion of the k'sillim... And perhaps one [of
them] will say, 'How can the intellect accept that THE WORLD HAS EXISTED
for only 4,693 years?'And we will answer that once we believe that the
world was created, it is impossible that it had no beginning. Don't you
see: if we, the created, were in the year 100 from the creation of the
world, would we be astounded and deny this? All the less should we deny
[the truth of] this period [of 4,693 years]."

Rabbaynu Yehudah HaLevy, Kuzari Book One:

(4)The Khazar King: What could be more erroneous, in the opinion of the
philosophers, than the belief that the world was created, and that it
was created in six days?...

(43) The Rabbi:... Our prophet... revealed the hidden things, and told
how the world was created...

(44) The Khazar King: This, too, is astounding, if you have a clear
(45) The Rabbi: With it we count, and there are no two Jews who contest
this from Hodu to Cush.
(46) The Khazar King: And what is your count today?
(47) The Rabbi: 4,500 years....

Avodah members seem fond to cite (correctly or incorrectly) the Rambam,
but I would suggest that we also take to heart the approach of the Kuzari:

Rabbeynu Yehudah Halevy (Kuzari par. 60-65):
The Khazar King: And how is this belief of yours not weakened by what
they say about the people of Hodu, that they have places by them and
buildings which to them are clearly hundreds of thousands of years old?

The Rabbi: It would weaken my belief if this was a stable nation, or if
it written in a book, to whose authenticity all agreed, which contained
a specific counting....

The Khazar King:...And what will you say of the philosophers (read:
scientists--ZL), who, as a result of their careful researches, agree
that the world is without beginning, and here it does not concern tens
of thousands, or millions, of years, but something that has no beginning
at all?

The Rabbi: The philosophers--we can't blame them. Being Grecians, they
did not inherit wisdom nor Torah....

The Khazar King: Does this mean that Aristotle's philosophy is not
deserving of credence?

The Rabbi: Yes. Because he exerted his mind, since he did not possess a
kabbala through the reporting of a person he could trust. He deliberated
about the beginning and end of the world, and found it difficult
to envision it [both as] having a beginning as well as it being
infinite. However, through his unaided thought processes, he concluded
by accepting his logical structures that inclined towards the theory
of a world with an infinite past. He did not see fit to ask about the
correct count of years from anyone who came before him, nor about the
chronology of the human race. If the philosopher had lived among a people
possessing widely-known traditions, which he would be unable to dismiss,
he would have applied himself with his logic to strengthen the viewpoint
that the world came about through Creation.

The hot issue of the Talmudic, Gaonic, and Rishonic times was the then
current philosophic claim (read: mainstream scientific view) that the
world was proven to be always in existence, without ever having been
created. Oh, to say otherwise was to stick one's head in the sand,
ignore facts, fail to be rational, and otherwise irritate modern-day
academia. Nevertheless, clear-headed, Torah-based thinkers such as
Rabbeynu Saadia Gaon, The Rambam, and Rabbeynu Yehudah HaLevy (author
of HaKuzari), had the backbone to stand up against these claims.

It seems to me that Rabbaynu Yehudah HaLevy's more pronounced skepticism
of current wisdom has been proven by history to be more correct than the
Rambam's more conciliatory approach. I already noted that even the best
meforshim get into trouble when (as is of course natural) they explain
p'sukim using the wisdom of their day as a reference. I find it ironic
when the Malbim rejects Abarbanel's explanation of "shammayim"--because
it is based on the old view of a calestial sphere revolving around
the earth--only to replace it with the "modern," "now we know" "fact"
of... ether!

The burden of proof is really upon those who assert that "day" does
not mean "day," and that Chazal would accept that the "tohu va-vohu"
presented as happening immediately upon Creation really happened aeons
later, or (in a rather bizarre suggestion) that the 6,000-year count
begins millenia after Creation, when some hominid descended from other
creatures was "ensouled." ("All of creation was created fully formed"--At
ma'aseh b'raishis the ox was created not as a calf but as an adult [Rashi
in Rosh HaShonna 26a s.v. shor sheh-hu par] and Adam was likewise created,
within the same 24-hour period--standing erect.) But all such contortions
of the biblical text do violence against both its letter and spirit,
and are contradicted by the conventional sense presumed and accepted by
our meforshim.--Their heels were dug in long before the 19th century.

One may want to introduce new, unheard of interpretations of the psukim
and chazal, but this is not Torah following a mesorah. Such methods
were used to buttress Christianity, Islam and Shabbzai Tvi-ism, and
have no place among bnai Torah. As Rambam says regarding the Karaites,
once they rejected the mesorah of Chazal, they were free to interpret
the Torah at will.

I have cited in support of the fact that yeish mei'ayin was less than
6,000 years ago, the Gemora, Rashi, Rambam, Ramban, S'forno, Ibn Ezra,
Rashbam, Rabbeynu Saadia Gaon, Rabbeynu Yehuda HaLevy, the Maharal, the
Malbim and the Torah Temimah. If this is a miut opinion, who are the rov?

Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, is known to have commented that he was aware of
so many shittos of individual authorities, that he could find combinations
that would create a form of Conservative "Judasim." The point is that
one must also be guided by the overall sense of the mesorah. A radical
chulent of ideas based on dismembered shittos of various authorities
may produce efficacious, if dubious, explanations that satisfy the
unreligious of a certain bent, but they have no place among b'nay Torah
who know better. This should not be considered the kind of chulent that
is famed for its effectiveness in kiruv.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Thu, 09 Sep 2004 09:04:28 -0400
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com

> I don't know much about Efodi ), other than that he was a controversial
> Rishon.

A fscinating person( Efodi - acrostic of amar profiat duran). See

In brief, a philosopher who was forcibly converted and worked for the
king of Portugal. He wrote commentaries on the Moreh, grammars, and
anti-christian works while employed by the royal court. He ultimately
dissappeared, presumably to return to Judaism and to practice openly in
some other country.

M. Levin

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