Judaism: Breishit and the World of Justice
“G-d stands in the Divine assembly, He will judge in the midst of (human) judges” (Psalm 82; שיר של יום, the Song of the Day, said after morning prayers on Tuesday).
This song is sung on Tuesday because on the third day of Creation(Ha’Briah), the Almighty pushed back the seas and thus created dry land; He thereby revealed earth in His wisdom, and prepared a world for his congregation (of followers; Rosh Hashana 31a).
This means that the revealing of dry land was for the nation of Israel, which will be the divine consciousness of the Briah, Creation (Rav Zvi Tau).
Besides proving that Rav Tau is hip enough to speak like my teenager ( he actually said זאת אומרת, the Hebrew for "this means" which has replaced the older slang "like" כאילו and is now used in its place by teenagers in Israel ), this statement is basic to understanding Creation as a whole. Rav Tau quotes the grand Master of Jewish philosophers, Miamonides, the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (Guide for the Perplexed):
“It is not possible to extrapolate from our world, from conditions after the Briah, back to the time of the forming of the Briah. The formation of the Briah was the time of the forming of the very laws (Chukim; see my Death of Gay Marriage, this website, June 28/13) of Nature, which include forming human understanding and logic. These Chukim that are the underpinnings of Creation, and were brought into existence by an unlimited Divine Intelligence. From these Chukim derive the limited natural laws that are revealed to our eyes”.
What Rav Tau is saying forces us to confront a basic misunderstanding of the very first Rashi in Chumash:” Rav Yitzchak says that the Torah begins with the Creation story so that if the nations of the world hypocritically accuse Israel of stealing the Land of Israel from them, the Jews can answer:’ The Land belongs to the Lord, He created it and He gave it to the one that He found to be upright (yashar,ישר)t”.
As Rav Matis Weinberg points out, most people read this and understand that this globe is G-d’s ball, and he can determine the rules of the ballgame. No, say the Song of Day Three (Tuesday) and the above Rambam: the world was created with the Chok (basic law) of justice, and justice declares that the Israel (literally, the upright,ישר of G-d) own the Land of Israel.
These Jewish thinkers stand in stark contrast to many current writers. As far as Creation goes, one only has to look at the army of atheists and biologists who push the idea of a contingent world, the result of infinite accidents. They tout evolution, which does occur, as an alternative to Creation; but evolution is only a theory, with lots of holes. Moreover, they constantly confuse kinship with “descending from” . Listen to how they talk ( John McWhorter, in This Explains Everything, edited by John Brockman; pages 163-164, in trying to explain how we animals who possess spinal cords in our backs, evolved from worms whose nervous systems are in their fronts):
“What’s increasingly thought to have happened is that .... (some worm started swimming upside down)…But suppose (this little worm then evolved into today’s chordates).It’s hardly a stretch…. ”
These are not the words of a proven Truth, but of sophisticated (?) guesses. Just as the Rambam says, we simply have limits to our knowledge; our biologists are too arrogant to admit it.
Or take one of the world’s most popular, and entertaining, atheists, Richard Dawkins. When he attacks organized religion, which contains a lot of nonsense, he is often right. However, his attacks on Judaism are amusingly ignorant. Take, for example, his cynical attack that “was murder and theft allowed before the Ten Commandments?” Even first-graders in Israeli religious schools know of the Seven Noachide laws, given to Adam from the first day of Creation(Genesis 2;16, as explained in Sanhedrin 56b).
Or: Dawkins gives a metaphor of a murder to explain why gaps in the fossil record can be glossed over. It goes like this: in a mansion, the owner is asleep on the second floor. The security cameras pick up the butler in the basement loading a gun. He walks out of his room, out of the range of the camera located there (creating the gap in knowledge). After walking a few feet in the hall, the hallway camera now picks him up. As he walks up the flights of stairs, there are more cameras, with gaps between their views. A later camera shows him opening the door to the bedroom, and then there is a gap, after which that camera shows him leaving the owner’s room with a smoking gun.
Dawkins glowingly reports that any American court would convict the butler of murder, gaps or not. BUT, no Jewish court, no adat E-l of the Song of the Third Day, would convict on the basis of such circumstantial evidence. The Chok of G-d’s justice requires better evidence then that.
Moreover, I’m a doctor. I constantly have to admit, that even with the use of the most sophisticated lab and radiology equipment, I can’t piece together the complete story of what happened to a patient in the last week, to explain how he’s ended up sick as hell, on death’s door; yet, Dawkins and his buddies claim to the complete picture of what happened billions of years ago. Ridiculous arrogance!
At least the physicists have the humility to admit to the Rambam’s truth, that they are far from understanding the Big Bang and Creation, and may never be able to define it all. I refer readers to a fascinating short article by David Deutsch and Artur Ekert, in which they admit that quantum theory’s limits on man’s knowledge (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) need not limit man’s progress. Man can use those parameters of reality which one can precisely define (such a s particle velocity) to push the envelope of progress, even while admitting that we at the same time, man cannot define other parameters (such as position; Scientific American, Extreme Physics, Summer, 2013; pages 102-107).
What the Creation story, and this first Rashi, leaves us with, is that “these moral (yashar) issues are actually existential issues (Rav Matis Weinberg). However, Rav Yitzchak was right: we emerge from the Yemei Hadin( the days of Judgement: Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Hoshana Rabbah ) as the proven, Chosen people. We are not the ones who perpetrate 9/11’s, and not the ones who shoot up malls in Nairobi.
May our politicos have the sense, and sense of purpose, to present our case to the peoples of the world, and its UN, as THE upright one.