(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 23:03:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: Russell Hendel < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Age of the Earth
I thank A&G Atwood, Torah Forum Volume 4 Number 61 for her excellent
comments on my "GEN 1 = PROPHECY" theory which has been discussed in Torah
Forum for about a year now. Let me first regress and summarize the
situation and then modify my thoughts.
According to Gen 1 the world is about 6000 years old. Since science claims
the world is 4 billion years old this creates a Bible-Science problem.
There are a variety of solutions. I suggested what was created in Gen 1 was
not the WORLD but PROPHECY. In other words the world existed for however
long you think it existed and 6000 years ago God made the first prophet,
Adam. Gen 1 is a RECORD of HOW God made the first prophet. On the first day
there was created the "light of prophecy". On the second day God enabled
man to distinguish between the "spiritual" and "physical" worlds,
etc.(Details have been given in previous postings).
I thought to end the matter by stating that it would be preferable on Torah
Forum if we discussed the prerequisites to prophecy--spirituality, Torah,
..--then the latest physics on the Big Bang. G Atwood (correctly) pointed
out that talking about science **in and of itself** couldn't be what is
bothering me since a great deal of halacha revolves around science.
She is absolutely correct. What is really bothering me is that the simply
meaning of Gen 1 is prophecy and I don't like to see the simple meaning of
the text distorted in favor of scientific discussions.
So the bottom line is "Why do I think the simple meaning of Gen 1 ***must**
be prophecy--in other words, what sources can I bring??" Several postings
over the year have asked this (e.g. Ed Rubinski in Volume 4 Number 62).
I searched thru Gen 1 and finally found the phrase "And the SPIRIT OF GOD
hovered over the water (Gen 1:2)". SPIRIT of GOD always refers to
prophetic experiences. There are about 500 occurences of RUACH in the Bible
and RUACH HASHEM (SPIRIT OF GOD) occurs in about 7% of them. This should
suffice for now--needless to say if readers are interested we can discuss
details on these 3 dozen occurences (e.g. sometimes it says RUACH HASHEM or
RUACH ELOKIM or adds RAAH..).
We immediately understand the Rashi on Gen 1:3--"God said let there be
light" RASHI: "The spiritual light (of prophecy?) hidden for the righteous
in the next world with WHICH ONE SEES FROM ONE END OF THE WORLD TO THE
OTHER (=Prophecy)". Indeed, "light" can mean physical light or prophetic
light. Rashi was **forced** to interpret light as prophetic light because
of the phrase SPIRIT of GOD.
In fact Rashi would read Gen 1:1-4 as a description of prophecy. First God
creates spiritual vs physical awareness (Gen 1:1).Although the physical
awareness is empty and void nevertheless prophecy (Spirit of God) hovers
over Talmud Torah (Learning compared to water) (Gen 1:2). God then creates
the prophetic light (like the visions of Ezekiel!?).
Thus I think it clear that Rashi takes Gen 1 as prophecy. Rabaynu Tam in
Chagiga 11-12 says that Gen 1:1-2 gives the Divine Name. And Rambam
identifies Gen 1 and Ezek 1 with the commandments of Fear and Love of God
(Rambam, Foundations of Torah 4:13). I believe in a short posting this is
enough to POINT the direction towards sources. I of course invite further
discussions on this most interesting topic.
Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d.; ASA RHendel @ MCS . Drexel . Edu