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When was the World Created?

Today was Rosh Chodesh Nissan (the New Moon – the beginning of the months of Nissan). There is a dispute in the Talmud as to when was the world created. According to Rabbi Eliezer, the world was created in the month of Tishrei. According to Rabbi Yehoshua, the world was created in the month of Nissan (Tr. Rosh Hashanah (10b)). The Chasidic thought attempts to reconcile these opinions suggesting that both opinions are correct—the world was created in Nissan in thought and Tishrei in deed. The problem with this approach is that for halahic (Jewish ritual law) purposes of calculating Jewish calendar, the planets are deemed to have commenced their heavenly orbits in Nissan, not in Tishrei! How could planets that haven’t been actually created yet start their orbital movements in Nissan?! This can [...]

Yom Kippur – Disentangling the Entangled

When God created the first humans, Adam and Eve (Chavah), He created them as one. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. (Gen. 1:27) Actually, as Midrash Rabbah (Gen. VIII:1) explains, Adam and Eve were created as one being – a hermaphrodite – or as Siamese twins – attached by their side.  When the story of creation of Adam is repeated in the next chapter, it seems as a different story of creation of the first man: And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the place with flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from [...]

Secrets of the Talking Ass

And God opened the mouth of the ass, and she said to Bilam: "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" And Bilam said to the ass: "Because you have mocked me; I would there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you." And the ass said to Bilam: "Am not I your ass, upon which you have ridden all your life to this day? Was I ever wont to do so to you?" And he said, "No." Num. 22:28-30 Despite the simple dialogue between Balaam (Bilam) and his ass in the Torah portion of Balak, this ass was no ordinary ass. This ass saw an angel where a prophet as great as her owner, Balaam, did not. It stands to reason that [...]

Passover, Shabbat and the Principle of Least Action

There is hardly a Jewish holiday more widely celebrated than Passover (Pesach). Jews of all denominations, affiliations, and levels of religious observance—if any at all—gather at the Passover Seder to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. What is often lost amid all of the beautiful rituals, not least among them the singing of Had Gadia and other Seder songs, is the deep meaning of this holiday, which is far more profound than a mere recollection of historical events, no matter how important they may be. What is, then, the deeper meaning of Pesach that transcends its historical significance? On the morrow of Shabbat One obscure and little-known (outside of the observant Jewish community) mitzvah may lead us to a deeper understanding of the meaning of Pesach – this is the commandment [...]

Two Beginnings

Two Beginnings B’reshis bara Elokim es hashamaim v’es haaretz… In the beginning G-d created heaven and earth… Alternative translations: With two beginnings G-d created heaven and earth… Genesis 1:1   *This is an abridged and updated version of the paper “Towards Reconciliation of Biblical and Cosmological Ages of the Universe” Presented at the Third Miami International Conference on Torah & Science in Dec. of 1999 and published in B’Or HaTorah, 13 (2002) p. 19.   Contemporary science places the age of the universe in the thirteen to fourteen billion years range, or 13.799 ± 0.21, [1] to be precise.  This age is derived from both theoretical models as well as experimental data.  (For an overview of theoretical and experimental approaches to dating the universe and our planet Earth see my original paper TOWARDS RECONCILIATION OF BIBLICAL AND COSMOLOGICAL AGES OF [...]

On the Nature of Time and the Age of the Universe

Presented at the International Torah and Science Conference in Miami International University on December 18, 2005 Alexander Poltorak   Introduction. This is the third in a series of articles, in which I attempt to sketch various approaches to reconciling a cosmological age of the universe currently estimated at 13.75 billion years with the Jewish tradition setting this age at less than six thousand years (5770 as of the day of this writing,[1] to be exact). The first article tackled this problem from the point of view of Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics suggesting that there were two distinct forms of existence—physical and proto-physical—and that the first observers, Adam and Eve, collapsed the universal wavefunction, bringing the world from amorphous proto-physical existence into tangible physical existence.  This approach leads to two timelines and two [...]