The week of Creation

Micha Berger (micha@aishdas.org)
Thu, 21 Nov 1996 12:25:57 -0500 (EST)

The Maharal (intro to Gevuros Hashem) touches the subject of understanding
creation and the account in Bereishis. He understands the Talmudic dictum
of "nevuah vichachamah, chachmah adifah -- between wisdom and prophexy,
wisdom is greater" to mean there are more things comprehensible by wisdom
than by prophecy.

The reason the Maharal gives is that prophecy is given in visions (eg
"Chazon Yeshaiahu ben Amotz" -- the vision of Isaiah ben Amotz). Which
means that you are limited to understanding something for which you have a
physical metaphor that you can picture. Wisdom, however, can be used to
extrapolate.

Ma'aseh Breishis is beyond the realm of either, though. It's so totally
alien to human experience that it just isn't comprehensible. (Another
example the Maharal brings of this is the afterlife. All we get from the
Torah is that doing mitzvos can lead to "long days", because the only
understanding we can have about the afterlife is that existance continues.)
The Maharal gets this idea about creation from the famous mishnah of "ein
dorshin". I can't understand how from reading the text of the Maharal (help
anyone?).

He therefore concludes (as the Rambam did) that Bereishis Ch.s 1&2 can not
possibly be a literal timeline. However, he also would conclude (as far as
I can tell), that scientific inquiry would not be successfull either.

To add to my general sense that creation can't be understood is this
business about the length of a day. What was the frame of reference?
According to my limited understanding of Special Relativity (in particular,
the relative length of time durations in different inertial frames),
without a frame of reference, the word "day" is meaningless. Any length of
time in one frame of reference can be a "day" in some properly chosen other
frame.

Instead of taking the route, as many did, of finding a frame where 6 days =
15 billion years (or whatever current theory is), I see this as indication
that the word "yom" (day) is being non-literal, and not necessarily talking
about time at all.

Micha Berger 201 916-0287 Help free Ron Arad, held by Syria 3626 days!
micha@aishdas.org (16-Oct-86 - 19-Sep-96)
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