GOING APE OVER ROSH HASHANAH:
THOUGHTS ABOUT MANKIND'S BEGINNINGS
Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin
I'm trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between what Judaism teaches about the creation of the world and what most people assume about humanity's beginnings. What emerges is more of a chasm!
Here's the problem:
If according to the Bible, G-d created man as the climax of the six-day creation of the world, and if this is what we celebrate on the Jewish New Year, then how do I deal with Evolution, Darwinism, and dinosaurs? Put differently, how can I expel those messages I've received in school, in print, and in the movies, that I am the product of millions of years of evolution, and at the same time, understand Judaism's teachings that the world is 5,757 years old (by the Bible's count)?
It's our version of Creationism versus Evolutionism. Which side of the Scopes Trial is the truth really on? I know it's uncomfortable to think of Judaism on the same side of Fundamentalism, but there is no escaping the fact that if you dig deep into the classical Jewish texts, you will find that we are actually celebrating the creation of the first man and woman, Mr. and Mrs. Adam and Eve, on the day of Rosh Hashanah 5,757 years ago!
What can be done about this? Can the twain meet? Must they meet? Do we say that Adam was a divine version of Neanderthal man? Was he from the Stone, Bronze, Iron, or Plastic Age? Did Adam paint pictures of oxen on cave walls as he conversed with his Maker? Was Eve his help-mate or play-mate? Was he hairy all over or did he shine like an angel?
If these questions don't bother you because...(a) you're a literal Creationist (which is unlikely in Greenwich Village) and you read Torah all day, or (b) you believe that gases fumed into one-celled animals over the course of eons,... then maybe now is the time to face up to the truth.
If I say that I am descended from ape-like creatures then I am a "human animal," a chimpanzee with an I.Q. above 100 and just a tad less hair (maybe). However, if I say that G-d created me in His image (the Tzelem Elokim) with his own "hands", then I must be related to that image since we all are descended from that one man (according to the Bible).
If I'm just a high-tech gorilla then it's okay to function according to the "laws" (?) of the human jungle out there - nothing wrong with hanging out and hanging loose in this system. But if I am a descendant of a divinely created being with its divine qualities of mind and soul then I cannot simply be another Species of banana-eater. I am drawn to the Divine, the Truth, the Exalted, and the Holy because I am G-d-like, and yes, even godly!
You see, it truly is a chasm, and it deserves a little of your thinking time. Let this be the Rosh Hashanah holiday on which you go bananas over the awesome implications of the fact that we really are G-d's own children, not via a surrogate simian progenitor, but from a Man and Woman created 5,757 years ago.
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