Torah IS Law

Published date26 January 2021
Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
It strikes me that by making a relatively small re-emphasis in the way the text is read, it can go a very long way to solving these kinds of problems. To begin with, we note that this body of knowledge is called Torah, which means Law or Instruction. If we bear in mind that the Torah is indeed telling us about Law(s) rather than about physical events, many things suddenly fall into logical place. For example, suppose we are from Nepal or Mars or somewhere Torah has never been seen, we open a Torah and start to read:

GEN. 1:1-2 IN THE beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth. Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of G-d hovered over the face of the waters. [Jewish Pub. Soc. 1917 Translation]

If we just read this plain text, we are perplexed: if the earth was unformed and void, that is a description of a Nothing. Did He create Something or Nothing? If the earth was "void", how was there water? How did hovering over the face of waters work? And if the sun didn't exist yet, it would have been very cold and the water would have had to be ice. Well, we are told that comets are largely ice, but they orbit around the sun, and without the sun, this is still mysterious.

But let's reread the passage with the idea in mind that we are being told about law: GEN. 1:1-2 IN THE beginning G-d created [the law by which] the heaven and the earth [would come into existence]. Now the [law of] earth was unformed and void [i.e., initially without specifics], and [without further details of the law] darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of G-d hovered over the face of the waters. [I think this is a hint that here is where Elokim establishes the laws governing gravitation, a very fundamental component of the universe, and also an indication of the importance of water, which will be further dealt with later.]

The idea here is that in creating laws by which various things will exist, Elokim is, by implication, creating the things. I.e., the potential for the things is created through the laws, and at the proper time, they can actually come into being.

GEN. 1:3-4 And G-d said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light. And G-d saw the light, that it was good; and G-d divided the light from the darkness.

The plain text doesn't say why He created light, and if the world was empty, except for some water, it's hard to understand why He would go to the trouble. And why would light be "good"? What would be the connection between light and morality?

But in our view: GEN. 1:3-4 And G-d said: 'Let there be [the law by which] light [can exist].' And there was [the law for] light. And G-d saw the [law for] light, that it was good [consistent with His purposes]; and G-d [made law that] divided the light from the darkness.

The existence of light is a fundamental building block of existence. The theory of Special Relativity tells us that the speed of light is an invariant constant, the same for all observers regardless of their motion with respect to the source of the light, or each other. Speed is the ratio of distance (space) divided by time. So, by establishing the law for the existence of light, Elokim was also necessarily creating the laws by which both space and time would exist. This ties together with the laws of gravitation, and all of these are dealt with in the theory of General Relativity.

GEN. 1:5 And G-d called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

This seems completely arbitrary, and again is problematic in view that the sun doesn't yet seem to exist.

But in our view: GEN. 1:5 And G-d [created law governing time periods, in which are] called the light Day, and the darkness [He called] Night. And there was [the law of the] evening and [there was] morning, [defining] one day.

Here, it seems, Elokim is planning ahead for the existence of living things, whose operation, as it were, will include a necessity for circadian rhythms, which will allow them to use time as a control mechanism for their lives.

GEN. 1:6-10 And G-d said: 'Let there be [the law of] a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' … and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas; and G-d saw that it was good.

In our view, Elokim is here establishing in some detail the laws by which air and water will exist and operate in the world. Why should He be so concerned with water at this point?

Water is very special stuff. It has the very unusual property that when it cools from liquid to solid (ice) its density decreases, and the...

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