HNY — New year message from Rabbi Baruch Cohon
If you’re Jewish, happy 5774! And if not, happy rest of 2013 or whatever number you observe. Starting Wednesday at sunset and continuing Thursday and Friday, the Hebrew calendar inaugurates its super holy day season, calling on all Jews to spend the first ten days of the new year in actively repenting past mistakes and resolving to do better.
Frankly, if you think we have been doing this for 5,773 years — wrong. Judaism is not quite that old. 3,000 plus would be more like it. So where do we get this 5774 date?
Tradition counts this as the age of the universe. Counting the years described in the book of Genesis, that is, counting them literally.
And what about the discoveries of modern science? What about astronomy’s millions of years? Or Darwin’s theory of all those millennia of evolution? Is the Hebrew calendar stuck in Folklore and legend?
Looking at the whole issue logically, I submit that this one detail, a year-number, points up a basic fallacy in the current dispute between Creation and Evolution. Reading Genesis in translation can give an impression of a benighted view of the beginning of our reality. But considering the actual content of the story, we see that the famous Six Days of creation are not defined. How long is one of those days? Can’t be 24 hours because time hadn’t started yet. No sunrise, no sunset, so a day of Creation could cover eons as we calculate now. With or without a Big Bang.
That is one part of the fallacy. The other part is clear from Genesis’ description of the origins of life. Life starts in the water, then goes to vegetation, reptiles, birds, amphibians and insects, animals and finally humans — the sequence being identical to Darwin’s.
Do we need a dispute?
Maybe we just ought to assume that the earliest of our 5773 years were a whole lot longer than they are now. Even as the year drawing to a close this week was just a little shorter than 5772. Now let’s see how we can live together in the new year!
You can contact Rabbi Baruch Cohon for further discussion and/or comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org