Alan Jay Gerber • The Jewish Press
It is a new year with new reviews for your reading and learning pleasure.
One of our nation’s oldest Jewish publishers, Ktav Publishing, recently brought to the Jewish reading public a fascinating literary work, “Six Days of Cosmology and Evolution: A Scientific Commentary on the Genesis Text With Rabbinic Sources” by Daniel Langer, with an endorsement from astrophysicist Dr. Amitai Bin-Nun.
With the upcoming Torah readings from the book of Genesis this timely work should serve as a unique literary experience tailored to both our religious and intellectual needs.
The method employed by the author utilizes a verse by verse analysis of the Genesis narrative of the story of the world’s creation through the use of both scientific and rabbinic “lenses”.
In his introduction the author details for us his goals in what has in previous generations proven to be a daunting literary experience.
“The aim of this book is to demonstrate that the Torah’s account of Creation is not in conflict with the sciences of cosmology, geology, or evolution. This requires an understanding of the nature of time, the overlapping character of the six days, and the use of homonyms in the Bible.”
Further on the author details the following very candid sentiments:
“This approach will be criticized from the left and from the right. Fundamentalists who hold a literal reading of Scripture may object to the suggestion that words in the Torah can mean different things to different generations, or that passages can be reinterpreted in ways that conform to empirical data and scientific theory. Scholars on the left hold that the Torah is not a science text: treating it as such distorts its message.”
The author concludes his introductory thesis with the following teaching from that great scholar Rabbi Elie Munk, zt”l, from his classical commentary, “The Call of the Torah” where he teaches us the following:
“The Torah does not stipulate as an absolute act of faith that G-d exists. Indeed, the existence of G-d is presupposed throughout, but it is not the object of a proof, nor even of a doubt. But the word order in the initial verse of the Torah [The word “God” appears after “created”] discreetly suggests that we seek out G-d in Creation, and so progressively acquire with our intelligence that which faith puts forward to us at the beginning of our human experience. For faith is crowned by knowledge.”
The timely publication of this work beginning with the reading of Sefer Bereishis makes for a very fortunate religious literary decision.
Do read and enjoy this new literary contribution.