B”H. This article was written by Shlomo Moshe Scheinman with the approval of Rabbi Moshe Zuriel.

The Sequence of

the 6 Biblical Days of Creation

In Light of Science 


SN1987a in a Jan. 1997 picture by NASA
Supernova 1987a

Contents of the Article

Order of the Creation Days

The viewpoint of G-d creating and destroying worlds previous to ours (a viewpoint mentioned by rabbis that lived between 2 – 2 and half centuries after the destruction of the 2nd Temple) has at least 2 advantages. It doesn’t require a person to believe that there is a conflict between the apparent age of the universe and its actual age. It also provides a reasonable explanation, why we seem to be finding fossils that are more than 6000 years old. 

However, the first chapter of Breishit/Genesis does not merely tell us about the creation of the world in six days. It tells us the events of what happened on those days. If you understand for example, that the earth had grass and trees (Day 3 of Creation) before it had a sun and a moon (Day 4 of creation) less than 6000 years ago you still are going to have a major conflict between the Torah (the name for the first 5 books of the Bible) and science, no matter what age you are willing to assign to the universe. The intent of this article is to provide 2 possible solutions that avoid this conflict. Later on in this article I will also bring the reason that the Chabad Chassidic movement does not follow these solutions and contends the universe indeed is less than 6000 years old. In their view G-d just created the universe with the appearance of being more than 13.8 billion years old but this is not its true age. There are other approaches to resolve the tension between Torah and science, such as the one advanced by Dr. Nathan Robertson, in his book, The First Six Days: Torah and Scientific Theory. I will not discuss that viewpoint in this article.

According to Rambam (Maimonides) If the Evidence is Strong Enough This Would Obligate Us to Change Our Interpretation of the Bible

    A question has to be raised. Is it legitimate to even look for alternative interpretations of the Bible if there is very strong evidence against a popular interpretation.
In Moreh Nevuchim 2:25, Rambam (Maimonides) states that he would be willing to radically reinterpret the Bible if the evidence had been strong enough to suggest that the basic “building blocks” of physical matter are eternal, as suggested by certain philosophers. However, Rambam did not find the evidence that compelling and defended the traditional interpretation of the Bible. As I pointed out in another article, the Kuzari (in modern editions, ch. 1, section 67)
provides an example of what alternate interpretation could have been used had the evidence compelled an individual to accept that physcial matter is eternal. Retroactively, we see that the Rabbis were right to hold their ground and retain the traditional interpretation of the Bible, because in our time almost all scientists accept that matter indeed was created and is not eternal.

When Rabbi Yisrael (Israel) Lipschitz, author of the famous Rabbinic commentary on the Mishna, Tifferet Yisrael, saw the fossil evidence (approximately 170 years ago) that seem to support the notion that life existed on Earth more than 6000 years ago, he viewed this as proof for the view of the Midrash, which talks of Created Worlds and Destroyed Worlds before ours. For a direct translation of the Midrash, see my article: What Benefit Could G-d Have In Creating and Destroying Worlds Previous to the Six Days of Creation?
It should be noted that even in the Talmud we find at least 2 occasions, where Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi (“Rebbe”) was willing to change his interpretation of the Bible based on the scientific/philosophical challenges of the non-Jew, Antoninus (see, Sanhedrin 91b).

According to the First Solution the 6 Days of Creation Are 6 Days of Miraculous Repair of Previous Destruction of the World

    Expanding on one idea already found in the writings of Rabbi Yisrael Lipschitz  (The Tifferet Yisrael’s, Drush Ohr Hachaim) one solution to the problem of the sequence of creation is the following. Breishit (Genesis) 1:2 according to the Created Worlds and Destroyed Worlds interpretation of the Bible, describes a major destruction of the world previous to our own. The light mentioned in Breishit (Genesis) 1:3 was a supernatural light that had the power to repair elements of the previously destroyed world. Day one of creation records the day when this supernatural light of repair was introduced into our current world. Day two records the start of the repair of the atmosphere and water. Day three describes the completion of the repair of the atmosphere and water and the repair of plant life. Day four describes the repair of the Earth’s relationship to the Sun, Moon, and stars, which I speculate could simply be a clearing or thinning of the mist mentioned in Breishit (Genesis) 2:6 although in theory it could involve some other repair to make the Sun, Moon and stars available for signs, seasons, days and years (see 1:14). Day five describes the repair of marine life and winged creatures. Day six describes the repair of land animals and man.

Where in the Bible Do We Find Light Associated with Repair?

    The reader shall surely ask, where in the Bible do we find light associated with repair?
One example, is Yishayahu (Isaiah) 30:26. “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days, on the day that G-d binds up the breach of his people, and heals the stroke of their wound”. According to many commentaries (and this view is incorporated into the monthly, Bircat HaLevana prayer of Jews who follow the Ashkenazi tradition), the light of the seven days mentioned in that verse is the six days of creation, followed by the first Sabbath.
Similarly, we find light associated with repair in Malachi 3:20 “But to you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in its wings; and you shall go out, and leap like calves from the stall”. And see Talmud, Nedarim 8b, where Reish Lakish takes this verse in a literal sense and claims that this blessing will take place at the same time that the prophecy of Malachi 3:19 takes place. And similarly, when Yaakov (Jacob) suffered a wrestling injury Breishit (Genesis) 32:26, Rashi states in the name of the midrash (in his commentary to Breishit 32:32) that a special shining of the sun was brought to heal Yaakov (Jacob) from his limping, similar to what is stated in Malachi 3:20 “the sun of righteousness shall arise with a healing in its wings”.
In Yishayahu (Isaiah) (chapter 60:19,20) we find an example (see Metzudat Dovid’s commentary) that the revelation of the Divine Presence is sometimes compared to a special light. The verses state: “The sun shall be no longer your light by day; neither shall the glow of the moon be a light for you; but G-d shall be for you as an everlasting light and your L-rd, your glory. Your sun shall no more go down; nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for G-d shall be for you as an everlasting light and the days of your mourning shall end”. 

An Explicit Source in the Midrash That Contends That The Light of The First Day of Creation Was G-d’s Symbolic Garment Through Which He Revealed Himself To The World

    A primary belief of Judaism is that G-d has no body (see the beginning of my article: Why the Bible is immune to scientific criticism for more details). So when Tehillim (Psalms) 104:2 describes G-d as one “who covers himself with light as with a garment”, this is to be understood as a symbolic cover and not literal. With this in mind Midrash Breishit Rabba, Parsha 3 states regarding the Biblical verse, “And the L-rd said, let there be light” (Breishit/Genesis 1:3), Rabbi Shimon son of Yehotzadak (who regarded Rabbi Shmuel son of Nachman as an expert on Aggada) asked Rabbi Shmuel son of Nachman from where was the light created? He replied that the Holy One Blessed Be He, covered himself with it as with a garment and shined the brightness of his majesty from the end of the world to the end of the world. The Midrash later explains that the source for this view is the verse in Tehillim (Psalms) 104:2 which describes G-d as one “who covers himself with light as with a garment”.

    From the Midrash above it appears that the light of the first Biblical day was a supernatural light. One way to explain the need for such light was that it served as a tool to repair a previously destroyed world.

Another Example of Miraculous Repair Are the Waters That Will Emanate in the Future From the Holy Temple

       In chapter 47 of the book of Yechezkel (Ezekiel) a miracle is described that will take place in the future via the Holy Temple. A small stream of water will flow out from the Holy Temple, which will become larger once it leaves the Temple. Many trees will be by the edge of both sides of this stream. In verse 8-12 we learn, “These waters issue out towards the eastern region, and go down into the Arava (plain); and they will enter the sea, to the sea of exiting waters and the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every living thing, with which it swarms, wherever the streams shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: so that everything shall be healed, and shall live where that stream comes. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi as far as En-eglayim; there shall be a place for the spreading of nets; their fish shall be of various kinds, like the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. But its miry places and its marshes shall not be healed; they shall be given for salt. And by the stream upon its bank, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for food, whose leaf shall not wither, neither shall its fruit fail: it shall bring forth new fruit every month, because the waters issue out of the Temple: and its fruit shall be for food, and its leaf for medicine”.

A Precedent in Rabbinic Sources That a Temporary Destruction of the Old Sometimes is Needed For the Sake of Rebuilding the New

    It says in the Talmud, tractate Shabbat 88b regarding G-d’s revelation at Mount Sinai:

 “Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi also said: At every word which went forth from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, the souls of Israel departed, for it is said, My soul went forth when he spoke (Shir Hashirim {Canticles} 5:6) But since their souls departed at the first word, how could they receive the second word? — He brought down the dew with which He will resurrect the dead and revived them, as it is said, Thou, O L-rd, didst send a plentiful rain, Thou didst establish (Soncino translates, confirm) thine inheritance, when it was weary (Tehillim {Psalms} ch.68 verse 10).

The Torah Temima commentary holds that the above is just a metaphor for the extreme weakness of the nation, however, Ein Eliyahu and a few other commentaries on the Talmud, take the above statement literally.

In summary, it is a kosher Jewish outlook to accept the need of a temporary destruction  before the restoration of the new, on a higher level. I provided another rabbinic source for this idea in my article on creation of Adam from the dust, that you can access through the following link.

Why the Chabad Chassidic Movement Strongly Opposed and Opposes the Explanation of Rabbi Lipschitz, author of Tifferet Yisrael

    Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in his article on the age of the universe reported something very surprising. Namely, even though more than 700 years ago there was an important Kabbalist that used, the Created World and Destroyed Worlds interpretation of the Bible to arrive at an age for the universe which comes pretty close to the scientific view, nevertheless, the Chassidic movement, was fiercely opposed to Rabbi Lipschitz suggestion that fossils are remnants of a previous world. The question is why?
It is too difficult, for me to represent the views of each component of the Chassidic movement, but at least, I will quote the viewpoint of the leader of the Chabad movement, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (written 58 years ago) as quoted in

    Incidentally, there are those who wish to interpret the statement of our Sages that “G-d builds worlds and destroys them” — as well as the statements in Zohar and Kabbalistic works about primordial man — in the literal sense. In other words, that there was a physical man, and physical worlds, which were later destroyed. Only afterwards was our world created, which is now 5716 years old. This interpretation is indeed offered in several books, as well as in the works of some of the early Kabbalists.
In areas of Kabbala, as in all areas of Torah, there is only validity to opposing views until a ruling is reached and issued in accordance with the parameters of Torah discussion. Once a ruling is issued according to one opinion, only this opinion is considered true and valid with regard to practical decisions and actions. The same is true in this regard:
Until the Arizal, there was a discussion and debate. The Arizal, however, is considered authoritative on Kabbala by world Jewry, including both Ashkenazim (such as the Alter Rebbe and the Gaon of Vilna) and Sephardim. He clearly expressed his deciding view by saying that the intent was never that there was a physical world similar to the one that now exists, as a physical cosmos came about only in the current “Shemita cycle”{comment by Scheinman: he means less than 6000 years ago}. From the Torah’s perspective, one may no longer attempt to explain events (such as how Creation actually happened, etc.) in any manner at odds with his view.

While Rabbi Schneerson’s opinion that it is forbidden to argue with the Arizal might represent much of the Chassidic world view, he is certainly mistaken about the outlook of non-Chassidic majority, led by the Vilna Gaon. The Vilna Gaon on many occasions felt free to dispute the viewpoints attributed to Arizal. Indeed even the “Alter Rebbe”, the founder of the Chabad Chassidic movement, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady contended: “And it is known to us in a completely clear way that the pious {Vilna} Gaon, let his light illuminate, does not attribute the Kabbala of the Arizal to be in a general way from the mouth of Eliyahu of Blessed Memory; just a little bit was from the mouth of Eliyahu of blessed memory and the rest of it was from his great wisdom, and there is no obligation {in his opinion} to believe in it, etc”. {see: Otzrote Hagra Ubeit Midrasho, page 285}

A Revised Understanding of the Ten Utterances of Pirkei Avot as a Solution

      A 2nd solution that allows for both a universe more than 13.8 billion years old and explains the order of creation is based on a revised understanding of the 10 utterances of Pirkei Avot.
The Sages of the Talmud in Pirkei Avot 5:1 stated, “By 10 utterances was the world created. And what does this teach us? Surely the world could have been created in one utterance. Rather (it was done with 10) in order to exact punishment from the wicked that destroy the world that was created by 10 utterances and to give a good reward to the righteous that sustain the world that was created by 10 utterances”.
What were the 10 utterances?
There is a general consensus about 8 of the 10 utterances, namely, Breishit (Genesis) 1:3, 1:6, 1:9, 1:11, 1:14, 1:20, 1:24, 1:26. As far as the ninth and tenth, according to tractate Rosh Hashana 32a, based on Tehillim (Psalms) 33:6 the first verse of the Torah is one of the ten utterances, even though the first verse of the Torah doesn’t explicitly describe the L-rd as talking while utterance #10 according to Breishit Rabba (Vilna) parsha 17 is either the second half of the sentence of Breishit (Genesis) 1:2 or Breishit (Genesis) 2:18. According to the dominant view in Avot De Rabbi Natan, version 2, chapter 36, all ten utterances are explicit and therefore according to this view, Breishit (Genesis) 1:29 is utterance #9 and Breishit (Genesis) 2:18 is utterance #10, while the first verse of the Torah is removed from the list. It is also possible to find a few other variant views about utterance #9, and #10, but I have stated enough for the point, I wish to express. Namely, before each one of ten major categories in creation, a decree from G-d was issued.

Precedents For A Gap In Time Between A Divine Decree and Its Fulfillment; such as the Promise Made to Avraham (Abraham) That One Day His Seed Would Rule Over The Territory Extending from Sharm El-Sheik in the Sinai Until Northern Turkey

    • Ifuture borders of israeln Breishit (Genesis) chapter 15, at the covenant of the pieces (in Hebrew pronounced as Brit Ben Habetarim) G-d informs Avram, whose name years later will changed by G-d to Avraham (Abraham) the following Divine decree (as translated by the Jerusalem Bible published by Koren) concerning the future course of history:”Know surely that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterwards shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come back here, for the iniquity of the Emori is not yet full. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. In the same day the L-rd made a covenant with Avram, saying, To thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Mizrayim {Egypt} to the great river Perat {Euphrates}: the Qeni, and the Qenizzi, and the Qadmoni, and the Hitti, and the Perizzi, and the Refa’im, and the Emori, and the Kena’ani, and the Girgashi, and the Yevusi”.Rashi, in his commentary to Breishit (Genesis) 15:19, (basing himself on midrash, Breishit Rabba) states, “Ten nations are {mentioned} here, but he gave them only seven nations, while the {other} three, Edom, Moav and Ammon – which are the Qeni, the Qenizzi and the Qadmoni are destined to be an inheritance in the future, as it is stated, (Yishayahu/Isaiah 11:14) “Upon Edom and Moav (Moab) they shall put forth their hand and the children of Ammon shall obey them” {end of quote}.We see clearly here, a large gap in time between the Divine Decree and the total fulfillment of that decree. Thousands of years have gone by and we still have not seen total fulfillment. As a side point, see Daat Mikra commentary to Yehoshua {Joshua} 1:4, and Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Leizer Ben Yaakov to Yerushalmi 6:1 which imply that most of Turkey will one day become part of Greater Israel. This also seems to fit in with the viewpoint of the Talmud Bavli, since the distance between the northwestern edge of Turkey before the sea (Istanbul) to the southern tip of Sinai (Sharm el-Sheikh) according to  http://www.distancefromto.net/ is 1536.87 kilometers. Four hundred parsa , which is the length of Greater Israel (according to Megilla 3a, Baba Kama 82b, and Menachot 64b) is also 1536 kilometers using a cubit of 48 centimeters (Rabbi Chaim Naeh’s standard cubit). The same web site gives nearly the same distance from Sharm el-Sheikh to Kumkale (1535.48 km) while the distance from Sharm el-Sheikh to Sinop is 1572.19 km, which fits well with a cubit of 49 centimeters (400 parsa = 3,200,000 cubits), a cubit sometimes used by Rabbi Chaim Naeh, for the sake of stringency (“lechumra”). 
    • In Breishit (Genesis) chapter 37, Yosef (Joseph) at age 17, has two Divinely inspired dreams about the future. The explanation of his first dream was that he would have rule and dominion over his 11 brothers, who would bow down to him. The explanation of his second dream was that even Yosef’s father and stepmother, Bilhah (see Rashi to Breishit 37:10) would also eventually bow down to Yosef.It took 22 years, for the Divine Decree of the first dream, to come true. It took an additional 17 years, for the second Divine Decree to be fulfilled (as recorded in Breishit 47:31 and see Torah Temima’s commentary for further explanation, if necessary).Once again we see clearly here, a large gap in time between the Divine Decree and the total fulfillment of that decree.
    • In the Biblical book of Kings chapter 13 verse 2, a prophet comes to the altar of idol worship of Yarovom [Jeroboam] the evil king of northern Israel. “And he called out against the altar, stating in the name of G-d, O altar, altar, thus says G-d, behold a son is born to the house of David and Yoshiyahu (Josiah) is his name, and he will sacrifice upon you the priests of the high places that offer incense upon you and the bones of a man shall be burned upon you”.Yoshiyahu’s monarchy (from the house of David) was some time between 3 and 3 and a half centuries after this prophecy was made. So once again, we clearly see a large gap in time between the Divine Decree and the total fulfillment of that decree.
    • There was a gap of 120 years between the decree of the Biblical Flood and its fulfillment 120 years later (see Rashi to Breishit 6:3 for details). Various midrashic sources attribute these extra 120 years to the righteous Metushelach (Methuselah), grandfather of No’ach (Noah) in order to allow him to die a natural death and have a 7-day mourning period in his honor before the flood. See Torah Temima’s commentary to Breishit (Genesis) 7:10 for a more in-depth explanation. Others see the 120-year gap as a last chance given for repentance to annul the decree.
    • In Breishit (Genesis) 10:25, the text (Jerusalem Bible, translation) says: “And to Èver were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Yoqtan”.The majority of the classical Jewish commentaries on this verse, agree with Radak, and Rashi, that when the text says concerning Peleg, “for in his days was the earth divided”, the days are not talking about the time when Peleg was born, rather the days refer to the time when his life ended. Namely, when his life was completed, the earth was divided at the tower of Bavel (Babel).Now here is a translated quote from Rashi in order to fully explain this viewpoint. On the Hebrew word, Niflaga which is translated “was divided”, Rashi comments: “The languages were confused and they were spread abroad from the plain and were separated throughout the entire world; {From this text} we learn that Èver was a prophet, since he called the name of his son after a future {event, for Peleg contains the same Hebrew root (פלג) as Niflaga of Breishit/Genesis 10:25}. And we learned in Seder Olam that at the end of his {Peleg’s} days they were separated. For if you contend {that they were separated} at the beginning of his days, behold, Yoqtan his brother was younger than he {Peleg} yet he {Yoqtan} begot many families prior to this {division} as it is stated, “And Yoqtan begot”, etc. {Breishit/Genesis 10:26}. And {only} afterwards, “And the whole earth was”, etc.{Breishit/Genesis 11:1}.Now if you contend {that they were separated} in the middle of his days, {this is not so, because} the text would not have come to conceal, but to clarify. Consequently you learn that in the year of the death of Peleg they were separated” {here ends the quote from Rashi}.In summary, we see that if we have some compulsion to interpret the Bible as having a large break in time, between a Divine Decree and its actualization, similar to the break in time, between the declaration by the prophet at the birth of Peleg about the future and its fulfillment, during the completion of the days of Peleg, we indeed allow for such a break.

Where in the text of Breishit (Genesis) Is Their An Indication That the 6 Days of Creation Might Be the End or A Completion of a Long Process of Development, But Not Necessarily the Start?

    In the Six Days of Creation (Breishit/Genesis chapter 1) there is one creation day that departs from the general rule. On Day 2, G-d does not give his actions the stamp of approval of being good.

           Rabbi Shmuel and Rabbi Yosi in Midrash Breishit Rabba 4:6 (or 4:7 in the Theodore Albeck edition) were perfectly aware of this peculiarity and they explained it in the following way:
On Day 2, where the focus was on making Earth’s water system, the text informs us that the Creation was left incomplete by the end of the day and for this reason, G-d would refuse to pronounce his Creation as good. However, on the third day where he completed the proper arrangement of the water system, he could now pronounce it as good, because completion is G-d’s good. And from this we derive the general definition of what G-d meant, when he saw in Days 1,3,4,5, and 6 of Creation that his acts were good.

This view of Rabbi Shmuel and Rabbi Yosi leaves open the question, were there incomplete acts of creation before the Six Days of Creation where G-d found that his acts were good.

In Jewish Law, we also find (regarding some commandments) that the completion of the process is the key to defining the process. To provide just one example, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, known more widely by the nickname “Chafetz Chaim” rules in Sefer Hamitzvot Hakatzar, positive Commandment #15:
torah scroll being written by scribe” that it is a positive commandment for each one of Israel to write for himself a Torah scroll, for it is stated Dvarim (Deuteronomy) 31:19 ‘write for yourselves this song’. And they have explained write the Torah that contains this song, for one does not write the Torah in individual parshas (sections). And if he writes it with his own hand, scripture accounts it as if he has received it from Mount Sinai. And if it is impossible for him to write it by himself, he has to purchase it or to hire someone who can write it for him. And even if one has a Torah scroll from his ancestors, it is a commandment to write his own. Yet if he corrects one letter in the Torah scroll it is as though he wrote the entire Torah”.

Rabbi Kagan then proceeds to bring a lenient viewpoint, which allows one to acquire Torah related books, such as the Chumash, Mishna, Gemara and commentaries, for the purpose of study to fulfill this commandment; but he ends off, “whoever has the power to fulfill both (views) in the simple manner, praiseworthy is his portion. And the commandment applies for all places and all times, for males but not females”.

Rabbi Yechiel Michal Halevi Epstein makes it clear in his book, Aruch Hashulchan, Yoreh Deah, chapter 270, that in order to fulfill the commandment of writing a Torah scroll (according to the stricter view) it is not sufficient to write or fix a letter of the Torah, if the scroll remains incomplete. Rather, the correcting or addition of letters (or even a single letter) of the Torah has to be one that turns it from an invalid Scroll into a complete and valid scroll.

In summary, we see from this law, that the defining moment of creation (at least as far as writing a Torah scroll is concerned) is not the start of the process, but rather the completion of the process.

According to Current Scientific Theory the Earth Has Undergone Major Changes During the Last 4.6 Billion Years

According to current scientific theories the temperature of the earth, the atmosphere, the surface of the earth, the distribution of land mass and water, plant life, the magnetic field, the lunar orbit, the solar day, the solar year, animal life, etc. underwent significant changes during the last 4.6 Billion years. During the week of Creation that is noted by the Jewish calendar, all the various aspects of nature developed exactly to the point, where they were fitting by G-d’s very precise standards. See the following sources as evidence that G-d indeed has very precise standards and measurements regarding how he wants the natural world to appear Tehillim / Psalms 147:4, Yishayahu / Isaiah 40:12, and Iyov / Job 38 verses 4-6  and 37-38. 

After Understanding the Style of the Torah The Revised Understanding of the Ten Utterances of Pirkei Avot Solves The Question About The Sequence of Creation

        As I have stated earlier in this article, the 6 Days of Breishit/Genesis chapter 1 were the days that G-d found that his creation was good, that is to say his creation attained the complete and precise measurements suitable for the Divine goals of creation. This would then in theory allow for a sun, moon, and stars that had not yet reached perfect measurements to exist before Earth had grass or trees even though the topic of “Creation Day 3” deals with grass and trees, while “Creation Day 4” deals with the topic of the sun, moon and stars.

    But if you will ask, does this conform to the style of the Bible? Namely, when the Bible mentions 2 topics are there precedents that parts of the second topic on a chronological level actually precede the first topic.

    Yes! It is the style of the Torah (the 5 books of Moshe/Moses) to group together the ideas of one topic for stylistic (and ideological) considerations, even at the expense of strict chronological order. For example, Breishit (Genesis) chapter 35 describes the eventual return of Yaakov (Jacob) to his father Yitzchak (Isaac) to Chevrone (Hebron) after many years of exile and dangers. The chapter ends by stating that Yitzchak lived until age 180 and then expired, full of days (lit. satiated) and was buried by his sons Eisav (Esau) and Yaakov (Jacob). However, if one does the calculations by combining Breishit / Genesis 25:26, 37:2, 41:46, 41:47, 45:11, and 47:9, Yitzchak (Isaac) was still alive when Yosef (Joseph) is sold into slavery in Breishit chapter 37, two chapters after the death of Yitzchak is recorded. Nevertheless, since the events of the sale of Yosef into slavery were not connected to the main theme or topic of Breishit chapter 35, the Torah omits that fact in the chapter, even though this makes it more difficult for us to make a precise chronological timeline.

    A second example is found in Breishit (Genesis) chapter 38 which describes the punishment that came upon Yehuda (Judah) for the sale of Yosef (Joseph) into slavery and eventually what led Yehuda (Judah) to the path of repentance. If one follows the chapter carefully, the end part of chapter 38, definitely took place after many of the events that affected Yosef (Joseph) in Egypt as recorded in Breishit (Genesis) chapters 39, 40, and 41. Nevertheless, in order to stay focused on the theme of chapter 38, the Torah sacrifices the precise chronology of events, by omitting in that chapter, any reference to what was going on in the life of Yosef (Joseph) while it is concentrating on the story of Yehuda (Judah).    

    In light of this Biblical style of grouping together the ideas of one topic, we can now understand, why G-d sacrificed a precise chronology of the sequence of creation when it dealt with the ten utterances of creation. Namely, it is the general style of the Bible to say all that it has to say on each one of the ten utterances of Creation, before moving on to the next utterance. So for example, when G-d said, (Breishit / Genesis 1:11) “Let the Earth bring forth grass….”, he then described everything he wanted to say about the topic to the point where the grass and trees reached their ideal measurements to suit the goals of G-d on the third day of creation (which was less than 6000 years ago) even though many developments of other aspects of nature were going on during this long period, not related to the theme of agriculture. That is to say, the Bible has a greater interest in presenting a unified theme rather than a precise chronology of events.

    The fact that the Bible does not always follow strict chronological order is not the revelation of some sharp modern scholars. This principle is already recognized by the Talmud (Bavli) Pesachim page 6b. See also Talmud Brachot page 10a, where Rabbi Abahu explains to a heretic, the ideological reason that the book of Tehillim (Psalms) departs from chronological order by listing a Psalm dealing with King David’s running to escape from his son Avshalom (Absalom) many chapters before it lists a Psalm dealing with the time (years earlier, when) he had a run away from King Shaul (Saul) and hide in a cave.

G-d’s Method of Creation and Survival of the Fittest

“Survival of the fittest” the key driving force behind change in animals and plants according to the belief system of Darwinian evolution was one of the ideological foundations used by the instigator of World War II, namely, Hitler to justify his vicious Nazi ideology.

To quote from David Klinghoffer, (who belongs to a movement that believes that G-d actively intervened in nature after the creation of the universe to produce life as we know it) http://www.discovery.org/a/10051:

Evolutionary theory was embraced and championed in Germany faster even than in England, Darwin’s native country. Hitler felt its influence, as the important biographers of him agree. In Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Alan Bullock writes: “The basis of Hitler’s political beliefs was a crude Darwinism.” Joachim C. Fest, in Hitler, describes how the Nazi tyrant “extract[ed] the elements of his world view” from various influences including “popular treatments of Darwinism.”
The key chapter in Mein Kampf is Chapter 9, “Nation and Race,” where he discusses the obligation to defend the Aryan race from the Jewish menace. His argument is couched from the start in Darwinian terms. He writes: “In the struggle for daily bread all those who are weak and sickly or less determined succumb, while the struggle of the males for the female grants the right of opportunity to propagate only to the healthiest. And struggle is always a mean for improving a species’ health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of higher development.” He praises “the iron logic of Nature” with its “right to victory of the best and stronger in this world.”

Believers in the Bible that hold that the universe is indeed more than 13.8 billion years old, are divided over the question concerning what methods G-d used to create life. Even the nature of the dust from which Adam was created (Breishit/Genesis ch. 2) is subject to dispute. While it might not be heretical to believe that “survival of the fittest” can account for everything in the world until the advent of Adam, it certainly is a foolish and fanatical viewpoint.

In my article on the SETI proof for the existence of G-d that the probability of natural forces producing by chance alone the most minimal complex cell is at best 1 chance in 1040,861; I also provided a link to an article about the so-called “Cambrian Explosion” that defies the expectations of Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian evolution. In my article on creation of man from the dust I also raised several other scientific issues that cause difficulties for the standard theory of evolution. In particular, I will repeat here what I said about a special piece of DNA named BovB:

If you draw BovB’s family tree, it looks like you’ve entered a bizarre parallel universe where cows are more closely related to snakes than to elephants, and where one gecko is more closely related to horses than to other lizards.This is because BovB isn’t neatly passed down from parent to offspring, as most pieces of animal DNA are. This jumping gene not only hops around genomes, but between them.

This type of “horizontal gene transfer” (HGT) is an everyday event for bacteria, which can quickly pick up important abilities from each other by swapping DNA. Such trades are supposedly much rarer among more complex living things, but every passing year brings new examples of HGT among animals.(Quoted from: Ed Yong in a an online National Geographic article dated Jan. 1, 2013)

In the above quote we see a clear scientific precedent for genetic change, which is not brought about through survival of the fittest.

Common sense as well as Biblical verses also contradicts Hitler’s view  about “the iron logic of Nature” with its “right to victory of the best and stronger in this world.” In the real world, assuming that we can even define what is “best”, the best and strongest do not always win. Sometimes, the weaker and the seemingly mediocre win because they happen to have benefited from some favorable environmental event that occurs that tips the scales towards their advantage. Indeed this is another lesson in morality that the dinosaurs can teach us. Namely, that although they were clearly stronger than mammals, nevertheless, they did not have the good fortune of mammals, so mammals endured and they did not.

Now if you seek Biblical support for this common sense notion, I will quote from *Kohelet/Ecclesiastes 9:11 as translated by the Stone edition of the Tanakh, which states:

“Once more I saw under the sun that the race is not won by the swift, nor the battle by the strong, nor does bread come to the wise, riches to the intelligent nor favor to the learned; but time and death will happen to them all”. The Jerusalem Bible translation by Koren publishers translates the end of this verse, “but time and chance happens to them all”. Based on a parallel use of the Hebrew word in I Kings 5:18 it would appear that the Hebrew word in the Biblical verse (which is translated by Stone as death and Koren as Chance) has a connotation in our verse of a meeting with harmful forces (see Metzudat Tzion to I Kings 5:18).      


    In summary, regarding, the methods G-d used to create life as we know it, although it would not be heretical to give all the credit to “survival of the fittest”, it certainly is a foolish and fanatical viewpoint.
Regarding the 6 Days of Creation, I have shown that as long as you don’t obligate yourself to always agree with the Arizal (in contrast to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s opinion), the belief that the sun, moon, and stars came into existence before grass and trees is legitimate. Two approaches have been suggested in this article, why the listing of grass and trees on Day 3 of Creation is not Biblical proof for their existence prior to the existence of the sun, moon, and stars (on Day 4).
The first approach holds that the sun etc. indeed came into existence before the grass and trees; however, some major destruction on Earth harmed our ability to view the sun, moon, and stars and in addition caused major damage to grass and trees. G-d repaired the damage to the grass and trees one day earlier, than he repaired our view of the sun, moon, and stars for signs, seasons, days and years (Breishit/Genesis 1:14).
The second approach contends the final finishing touches (“מכה בפטיש”) that made grass and trees complete by G-d’s exact standards occurred one day before the sun, moon, and stars relationship to the earth (for example, length of day, month, seasons and years) reached completion by G-d’s exact standards. It is the style of the Breishit/Genesis to present a unified theme even at the expense of making it more difficult to arrive at a precise chronology of events. So for example, although there was a massive gap in time between the utterance of one of the 10 decrees of creation of Pirkei Avot, namely, G-d’s decree for grass and trees to emerge and the complete fulfillment of that decree by G-d’s standards less than 6000 years ago, the Bible will not digress to talk about other events in nature during this gap. The Biblical style is to remain focused on the theme of each day of creation until completion.

published in Nissan, 5774, (April 2014) for www.vilnagaon.org  

For additional reading to clarify certain science issues raised in this article see Professor Nathan Aviezer’s articles at: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/intelligent-design/ andhttp://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/anthropic-principle/ and Dr. Schroeder’s article at http://geraldschroeder.com/wordpress/?page_id=49
For additional information about the laws of Shabbat, in particular the prohibition of performing “מכה בפטיש” “the final hammer blow”, see http://www.torahtots.com/torah/39melachot.htm#38 and/or Makeh BePatish – Striking [the final blow of Refinement] with a Hammer
Earlier in this article, I contended the length of Greater Israel is approximately 1536 kilometers according to Rashi, since a cubit according to Rabbi Chaim Naeh is 48 centimeters and the 400 parsa length of the land of Israel equals 3,200,000 cubits.
However, one might raise the following objection. Namely, in the Talmud, tractate Eiruvin page 4 and Menachot page 97, we are informed that at least 2 different cubit sizes were used in ancient Israel. One cubit size being according to Rabbi Chaim Naeh 48 centimeters, while the 2nd cubit size, being only 5/6 of that amount, namely, 40 centimeters.
One might ask, how do we know that the length of Greater Israel is 48 centimeters times 3,200,000 ? Perhaps, it is only 40 centimeters times 3,200,000 ?
The answer to this question is that Rashi gives us an additional way to measure the length of the land of Israel that only works with a cubit of 48 centimeter but not a cubit of 40 centimeters. Rashi informs us that 1/40th of the size of the land of Israel is the distance an average man can walk in one day. That distance according to the larger cubit is 38.4 kilometers. If we used the smaller cubit it would only be 32 kilometers.
The Mishna (Maaser Sheini 5:2) states that the distance between Lod and Jerusalem was the distance the average person can walk in one day. Rashi in his commentary to tractate Beitza page 5a, explains that Lod is within the one day walking distance of an average person and so too, contends the Hone Ashir, commentary to the Mishna, Maaser Sheini 5:2 .
In an article in Techumin Volume 9 on Purim in Lod by Yoel Elitzur, he claimed based on the archaeological evidence that the western side of the ancient city of Lod is approximately on Abba Hillel Silver Street within the modern city of Lod. According to http://www.distancefromto.net/ the distance from Temple Mount, Jerusalem until Abba Hillel Silver Street, Lod is 38 kilometers, thus confirming that Rashi is using the larger cubit of Rabbi Chaim Naeh when he talks about distance
the average person can walk in one day.
It is implied by Kol Hator’s commentary (chapter 5) expansion of the land of Israel brings the world to proper belief about G-d, as it says in Yishayahu/Isaiah chapter 54 “Expand the place of your tent…  the Holy one of Israel the L-rd of the whole Earth he will be called”.

For Additional Articles on Torah, Science and G-d, visit the home page of www.vilnagaon.org . 
In particular I suggest my article on Creation of man from the dust and the theory of Evolution.

Comments by Rabbi Moshe Zuriel (Tzuriel)

As you know, I am not an expert on this subject. However I read your article and agree that it is quite convincing. It is worthy of being publicized. However what you calculated the 400 Parsa, I think that it is a figure of speech.

Rabbi Zuriel then added the following comments in Hebrew, which I have translated into English. What is written in blue is what he actually wrote and the words in black are an elaboration by the author of this article. 

In the book “Magid Chadashim” of Rabbi Yoel Weiss, 2nd edition, year 5768 to Brachot 51b he brought from Pesachim 62b, “Between ‘Azel’ and ‘Azel’ they were laden with four hundred camels of exegetical interpretations” (Soncino elaborates: I.e., on the passage commencing with ‘And Azel had six sons’ (I Chron. VIII, 38) and ending with ‘these were the sons of Azel’ (Ibid. IX, 44) there were such an enormous number of different interpretations! This too, of course, is not to be understood literally). Sanhedrin 106b  “Doeg and Ahitophel propounded 400 problems”, Tractate Avoda Zara 14b, “the tractate of Avoda Zara of our ancestor Avraham was 400 chapters”. Sanhedrin 21a, “David had 400 children that were sons of beautiful women” (the type described in Dvarim/Deut. XXI, 10-13). And so too Baba Batra, “he wrote 400 Torah scrolls”, and this was an exaggeration. Yet it is true that Maharal (Chidushei Aggadot, Vol. 1, page 126, head of right column, holds that this (400 Parsa) is according to its simple understanding regarding the land of Israel.
Be very successful to strengthen the belief in the Holy One Blessed be He and his Torah. And in the matter of the words of the Admor of Chabad that one should thus negate all the other opinions in face of the commentary of the Arizal, I too, believe that he is mistaken in this.
With Great Blessing Moshe Zuriel.

Later Rabbi Zuriel added a 2nd comment:

In my learning today, I found with the assistance of heaven in the words of Rabbi Kook (Igrote Vol. 1, letter 91, page 105) regarding the geological calculations and he relies on the midrash in Breishit Rabba that the Holy One Blessed be He, would build worlds and destroy them. And this is not in accordance to the words of the Admor of Chabad, let the memory of the righteous be a blessing.
with blessing,
Moshe Zuriel

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