The Age of the Earth

Rabbi Aviner writes:

While there is still a difference between the dating of the world between the Torah – 5769 years – and scientists – 15 million years (this conclusion is reached through radioactivity in rocks, salts in oceans, etc…), this is not a difficult, since our Rabbis explain that Hashem built worlds and destroyed them before the ultimate creation of THIS world (Bereshit 3:6-9).

Maran (our revered teacher) Ha-Rav Kook therefore wrote: "And regarding the counting of the years of creation in relation to geological calculations in our time – it is a well-known teaching that there were already many epochs before the counting of our era. It is well-known among the early mystics and in Midrash Rabbah that He (Hashem) built worlds and destroyed them" (Igrot Re’eiyah vol. 1, p. 105). Our world is 5769 years old, but 15 million years already preceded in other worlds (see the commentary of the Tiferet Yisrael on the Mishnah at the end of Seder Nezikin in "Or Ha-Chama" who explains this at length). This means that the different strata found in the world are remnants of the destroyed worlds.

The Torah says: "It was night, and it was day" (Bereshit 1:20). Bereshit Rabbah (3) explains that "it was" comes to teach us that there was an order of time before our world. Thus, Hashem built worlds and destroyed them. "And the land was unformed and void" (Bereshit 1:2). "What does ‘was’ mean? It (the world) already was, i.e. already existed (Sefer Ha-Bahir).

Regarding the basic issue, we are not necessarily for or against the Big Bang Theory. The point of the Torah is not to deal with physics. We respect scientists, and there is even a blessing for great scientists (Blessed is Hashem…who gave of His wisdom to flesh and blood), but the Torah is not a science book. Science describes the reality of what was and what is, and the Torah describes what reality should be (Maharal, Netivot Olam, Netiv Ha-Torah, 14). What is written at the beginning of the Torah is a secret and not simple, as Maran Ha-Rav Kook wrote: "And the Torah is certainly closed regarding the act of Creation and speaks in hints and parables, since everyone knows that the act of Creation is included in the secrets of the Torah" (Igrot Re’eiyah ibid.).

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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