Saturday, 6 October 2018

Parsha: Noach, "The Question of Dual Moralities"

This week's parsha is Noach. The topic is the Noachide Code. Most individuals believe this Code to be an abbreviated form, a subset, of the Taryag Code that applies to Jews. In fact, the Noachide Code is a fully independent system. At times it even yields conclusions that are in conflict with the Halacha that Jews are supposed to follow.

One example of this is found in the rules of judgement and justice. The noted Insight investigates this surprising reality;  how can two moral systems originating in the Divine have such distinctions?

We bring forth the article,  The Question of Dual Moralities from Nishma's Online Library in order to initiate some discussion.

Shalom, RBH

Parsha: Noah, "Community and Individual; Ayn Rand and RSR Hirsch"

When is egotism a legitimate expression of moral indignation and when is it just conceit, arrogance and unholy defiance?

Although RSR Hirsch highly praises community elsewhere, I understood how this same community could be evil when reading his observations on Dor Haflagah. Migdal Bavel, though the paradigm of a peaceful co-operative community, set itself up in defiance of the Divine. Foreshadowing both Fascism and Communism, it sought to sacrifice the individual on the altar of the greater whole.

This suppression of the individual rightfully sparks the ego's rebellion  Why rightfully? When it suppresses the individual, any collective without sanction of the Almighty is inherently evil.

No wonder Ayn Rand flew from Godless Bolshevism. Her nature impelled her to rebel. Given the frightening parallels between Migdal Bavel and the Stalinistic 5-Year plans, her flight was well-justified! (Whether her alternative passes muster is another matter.)

R. Hirsch emphasizes that the praiseworthy community and culture is the one built around preserving and perpetuating Torah Tradition. He himself led a paradigmatic community in Frankfort when he broke with the local Heterodox Community there. It remains, although in reduced numbers, in Washington Heights. B"H, it is not the sole community based upon Torah Values.

Any community whose mission is "Hirschian" in nature deserves the deference of the individual. On the other hand, any community designing to compete against G-d deserves the defiance of the repressed individual soul.  The gray area today, dear reader, is the society that is neither culturally devoted to G-d nor out to defeat G-d. This apathy leaves us a conundrum.

Take for example, the United States circa WWII. There was no question of a society and culture which opposed Marxist Atheism in favour of a common non-denominational service to the Al-Mighty and compassion for mankind. This society had the common focus of G-d only in the most general terms, eschewing barriers between sects.

Now that Secularism is replacing this non-denominational common-denominator service to the Creator, this society is slipping off of its pedestal, teetering ever so closely to a Godless tilt, Heaven Forbid. It remains to be seen if we can restore a society that supports a common Deity in a compassionate and mutually supportive fashion as we did over sixty years ago.

Should we veer too far away, individuals will arise and break away to form tiny independent communities re-dedicated to the ideals and traditions that once made us a truly "Great Society". A new Austritt Gemeinder will have to appear to preserve a Torah life-style amid the deterioration of what was once the ideal, just as Avraham ho'Ivri crossed over to oppose the Dor Haflagah in his own day.


Parsha: Noah, "The Flood Waters were 'Boiling'"

The Torah Temimah writes that,  "Vayashoku Hamayyim" that the flood waters were "boiling." (Noah: 8:1)

Why is it valuable for us to know that Flood which drowned was also boiling?  Why is "boiling" water necessary if the Flood drowned all the life on dry land? If the Aggadah tells us that the fish were exempt from punishment, then why would the point of this boiling water be to kill the fish?
Many years ago, I heard a d'var Torah on this subject. This information is here to teach us that two distinct processes were at work here meant to cleanse and purify the earth.
  1. Immersion or T'vilah. These drowning waters were to cleanse the earth through immersion, like a Miqveh.
  2. Hag'alah.  The boiling water would purge all impurities in a similar way to kashering pots and utensils for Passover
The knowledge gives us insight into purifying ourselves and our environment.


B'nei Elokim - Machloqet RaSHbY and Zohar

There is a dispute on B'reisheet 6:2 re: the definition of "B'nei Elohim".
Are they angels?
children of the "judges"?

[Note Onkelos has a third read - viz. children of the "powerful"]

It turns out that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai comes out on both sides of the dispute!

First, See Torah Temimah on B'reisheet 6:2 Ot 2

The TT quotes Yoma 66b re: "Azazeil" etc. and the Rashi on that passage, which favours the first defintion, and then TT says it is "mashma m'forash b'Zohar"

However, B'reisheet Rabba on THIS Passuq quotes RaSHbY that
«B'nei Elohim elu b'nei dayyana» and that RaSHbY would curse anyone who would say they were angels [B'nei Elohaya]

This contradiction is noted by the TT himself.

The TT supports the read of the Talmud and Zohar from Avot d'Rabbi Nathan ch. 31 that mentions a grave sin was a LACK of judges during that era.

This conclusion may be somewhat disputed by Onkelos' definition above that they were neither children of Judges nor angels, but children of the "mighty"


Parsha: Noah, "Fathers and Sons; RSR Hirsch on 9:24"

Years ago, I came up with a cute idea:

Poqeid Avon Avot al Banim refers to visiting the sins of the parents through, or by means of, the children. This constitutes a serious warning, "Honour your father and your mother, lest you be punished though your children."
- Rabbi S.R. Hirsch, new edition, p. 243 on Bereishit: 9:24

Rabbi S.R. Hirsch applies this to Noah's curse of Ham. Sins that children commit against their parents will be punished by the manner in which their own children, in turn, will deal with them. K'na'an's actions would be the mechanism through which Ham's dishonour of his father Noah would be punished.

This is my own P'shat on Poqeid Avon Avot al Banim. Baruch Shekivanti!



Parsha: Noah, "R.S.R. Hirsch, Inuits, and Vegetarianism"

There is a lot of discussion about the desirability of vegetarianism.  It was the original antediluvian ideal etc.

Yet the Torah unambiguously permits consuming flesh.
"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; as with the green herbs have I given you all these"
Hirsch, Bereishit 9:3, New Edition P. 222.
The Torah simply equates flesh and herbs. There isn't any hierarchy of preference.

R. Hirsch elaborates as to what changed to make this so. Certainly "Eskimos" [Inuit], would find it difficult to  become vegetarians. Any cold climate could present a similar challenge

Shalom, RRW

Parsha: Noah, "The Rainbow Covenant"

There are several approaches to the OT Brit found in the Keshet in Parshat Noah. (B'raishit: 8: 21-22)
  1. The more "mystically" inclined will read that Hashem created the rainbow just to signify the Covenant. They will think the rainbow a brand new phenomena. 
  2. The more "rationally" minded will think that while rainbows had long predated Noah. Hashem was only now investing the Rainbow with new meaning and new significance through the covenant.
As per Hashqafah #2 we create Holy artifacts by sanctifying them. For example, a mundane piece of gold is endowed with holiness when dedicated to the Sanctuary or the like. Humanity's role is therefore not just to  "complete" the existing creation, but to sanctify it as well.


A Modern Day Noah's Ark

You Canadians have it SO good

A Modern Day Noah's Ark

And the Lord spoke to Noah and said,

"In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole Earth with water until all flesh is destroyed. But I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on the earth. therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark."

In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark.

In fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the Ark.

"Remember" said the Lord, "You must complete the Ark and bring everything aboard in one year."

Exactly one year later, fierce storm clouds covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult.

The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping.

"Noah," He shouted. "Where is the Ark?"

"Lord, please forgive me!" cried Noah. "I did my best, but there were big problems. First, I had to get a permit for construction and your plans did not meet the codes. I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans.

Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed a fire sprinkler system and flotation devices.

"Then my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.

"Then I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark, because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the U.S. Forest Service that I needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won't let me catch any owls. So, no owls.

"The carpenters formed a union and went out on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or a hammer. Now I have sixteen carpenters on the Ark, but still no owls.

"When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They objected to me only taking two of each kind aboard. Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn't take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the universe.

"Then the Army Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new flood plain. I sent them a map.

"Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal

Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking godless, unbelieving people aboard.

"The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I'm building the Ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes.

"I just got a notice from the state that I owe them some kind of user tax and failed to register the Ark as a 'recreational watercraft.'

"Finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the Ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it is a religious event and therefore unconstitutional. I really don't think I can finish the Ark for another five or six years!" Noah wailed.

The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine and the seas began to calm.

A rainbow arched across the sky.

Noah looked up hopefully. "You mean You are not going to destroy the earth, Lord?"

"No," said the Lord sadly. "I don't have to. The government already has."

- Author Unknown (but greatly appreciated!)

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Please Visit:

Parsha: Noah, "Noah's Missing Year"

According to the Torah:
  1. Noah lived for 950 years.
  2. Noah was already 600 years old before the Flood happened.
  3. The Flood lasted for 1 full solar year according to Rashi and the text.
  4. Noah lived for another 350 years AFTER the flood.
  5. Noah's total life-span is 950 years.
  6. However, if 600 + 1 + 350 = 951, Then Noah SHOULD have lived 951 years!
One person, basing his reasoning on text and on the Rashi that the seasons were suspended, has asserted that time stood still for one year. I rejected this attempt at an answer because the text notes all the dates, and  Rashi's point about one solar year would be senseless if time stood still.
Where is Noah's missing year? Which commentaries deal with this?
Why did the Torah:

1) Increase Noah's Age by 1 year from BEFORE the Flood until After the Flood?
2) One attempted answer is that time stood still for that year of the flood. If so, then why does the Torah give a chronicle of 1 solar year replete with starting and ending dates? - Viz. 17th of the 2nd month until 27th of the 2nd Month
3) How did Rashi presume 1 year based upon the text?
4) List Time expended such as 40 days, 150 days, 1 week [3 separate times] etc.?
5) Give Noah's total age when embedded  in this calculation was suspended immeasurable time?

Parsha: Noah, "Cappara vs. Teshuva"

first published October 10, 2015

Parshat Noah, 6:15 S.V. "v'chafarta", R.S.R. Hirsch, New edition p. 182

The basic meaning of CPR is a protective or restrictive covering. In a sense, then, Copher means "Cover". Cappara is a covering.

V'al kol pesha-im techashe b'ahava...

In other words, to pray for Cappara is to pray that one's sins - or that the negative impact of these sins - will be covered up.

Teshuva is "returning to the state before sin". It is a retroactive process. Teshuva is the undoing of a sin.

Here is a mashal: A man gains weight and as a result his blood pressure rises.

Cappara would be to take blood pressure medication. The man is shielded from the deleterious effects of his weight, even though he is still heavy.

Doing Teshuva would involve the man's dieting and exercising, losing the weight and reducing the hypertension. In other words, restoring his body back to the healthy way it was before the weight gain altered its body chemistry.

Of course, Teshuva is a more complete process. A thorough Teshuva might take years.

Yom Kippur is more of a quick fix.  Perhaps it's necessary to take the palliative of Cappara before the cure of Teshuva is available.


Noach "Oppression Of One's Fellowman Is The Worst Sin"

Guest Post:
Cantor Richard Wolberg
* * * * *

The Generation of the Flood rebelled against God's dominion. But the Torah itself informs us that it was not this rebellion that brought on the world's destruction. The immediate cause of the destruction was the oppression of man by his fellow.
Now the earth had become corrupt before God; and the world had become filled with oppression. (Genesis 6:12)
The Talmud learns from here that although the earth was totally corrupted by idolatry and immorality, the fate of the flood generation was only sealed for destruction because of acts of robbery and oppression. (Sanhedrin 108a)
God is endlessly tolerant of man's sins, but He listens to the cry of the oppressed, as we are taught:
You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan. If you cause him [the orphan] pain ... if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry. My wrath shall blaze and I shall kill you by the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children orphans. (Exodus 22:21-23)
God's anger must be ignited before He will consent to sit in judgment, and it only blazes when the cry of the oppressed reaches His ears. Once God assumes the seat of justice, He will administer retribution for all of man's sins, but unless He is prompted to do so by the cries of the oppressed, man can, in effect, do as he likes as God will never agree to sit in judgment.
This principle finds its strongest expression in the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin cities who are metaphors for evil and its consequences:
Now the people of Sodom were wicked and sinful towards God, exceedingly. (Genesis 13:13)
Yet, despite their evil, God only brought them to justice because of the outcry of an oppressed maiden.
"I will descend and see: if they act in accordance with this outcry, then destruction!" (Genesis 18:21)
The Midrash explains that this outcry, which prompted God to sit in judgment, was the scream released by Lot's daughter Plitas as she was cruelly murdered by the populace for having committed the crime of secretly feeding a pauper. (Pirkei d'R'Elazar, Ch.25)
The same thing had happened in the time of the generation that preceded the flood, and it was this kind of cruelty of man against man that led God to destroy the earth. If you want to really hurt God, then hurt your fellow man and it may be one of the last times you hurt anyone!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Parsha: B'reishit, "A New Perspective on Etz Hada'at"

In reviewing the Parshah with the Artscroll Ba'al Haturim Humash, I noticed a secondary aspect to Havvah's "sin" of eating from the "Eitz Hada'at".

The original take on Original Sin is that Adam exceeded his authority by telling Havvah not to touch the fruit. His credibility was sunk when the snake so easily debunked his Humra, that Havvah just had to give into temptation. Or did she? The Midrash adds [P. 1395] that Havvah slandered Adam in her mind "All that my teacher [Adam] instructed me is false".

We see that Hashem gave Adam a Mitzvah. Adam -acting as a "Rabbi" - violated "bal Tosif" by over-instructing Havvah. This excessive instruction enabled the Nahash to override the original Mitzvah, too.

What's the slander? After all, Havvah seems correct. She was, after all, misled by her Rabbi. This "slander" is a secondary aspect and highly instructive to any Talmid who finds a flaw in the instructions of his Rebbe. What happens when a Rabbi has apparently said something flawed, or, C"V, something definitely flawed.

How should we react?

Let me re-quote with emphasis: "ALL that my teacher instructed me is false"
This itself is jumping to a false conclusion. Making an error might impeach one's credibility. Furthermore, even while Adam was not infallible, it does not mean that all he said was false. So how should Havvah and/or our hypothetical Talmid should have reacted to a perceived flaw in instruction?
  1. A rationalist approach: "While there was a flaw in what my Rebbe said, not all that my teacher instructed me is false" 
  2. A believer's approach: "Despite a possible flaw in what my rebbe said, something, (I. E.some core principle) must be true even if he failed on some detail". 
Havvah could have reacted, saying, "wait a minute, Nahash! Just because I can touch this fruit - it doesn't mean I should go ahead and eat it!"

At any rate, this is not about berating Havvah. It's about teaching our hypothetical Talmid not to over-react and to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Yes, Adam erred on the side of caution, but this does not license one to throw caution to the wind.

Many years ago, when I took my driver's test, my instructor told me, "Rich, the speed limit on the course is 25 MPH. But go about 20 anyway".
I proceeded to go 15 MPH. My inspector was impatiently at his wit's end. Although he lectured me about being able to make quicker reactions, he did pass me. My caution, though annoying, was not fatal.
Now, if I had said to myself, "my instructor said 20, but the sign really says 25 - so I'll do better and go 30!" I might still be trying to pass my licensing exam to this day! ;-)

As you see, "fools rush in..." Adam might be faulted for over-compensating, but some level of trust - of emunat hachamim - is a must for Torah Observance


Is Darwin Kosher?

Originally published 7/8/07, 10:45 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.
A Tradition's Evolution: 
Is Darwin Kosher? - Wall Street Journal 
In a recent discussion with some of my chevra , we concluded that TRUE science and TRUE religion - since all of the above emanate from the same God - cannot be in any conflict.

However, in the human realm, we don't really understand the ultimate truths of science yet, as we probably do not really understand Torah or God - except on a superficial level. One day, there will live a Rambam and an Einstein all wrapped up in the same person who will get to the bottom of both realms. He will discover that when you really comprehend both Torah and science, their only conflict is semantic.

I believe it was R. Sa'adya Gaon who first posited that mitzvoth will gradually become more and more rational over time, and we will then grasp their meaning.

Here is an example: Most meforshim interpret "Taninim Gedolim" as sea monsters or whales... This is loosely based on RSR Hirsch on Parshat Vo'eira. He asserts, basing himself on the Haftorah, that we can interpret "Tanim" as crocodile and "Taninim g'dolim" as great lizards - Dinosaurs. A little bit of archaeology,  some flexlible etymology, and you can point to dinosaurs within the Torah.

What is definitively true of the Torah well before Darwin is that it describes a creation proceeding from the simple and progressing to the complex. Thus we see the confluence of Torah and Mada as an evolving process. - pun most intended -


Etz Hada'as - So What IS So Bad about Knowing Good from Evil Anyway?

Originally published 10/23/07, 6:17 PM, Eastern Daylight Time

Q: So wasn't the nachash [snake] right? After all, what is so bad about knowing Good from Evil?
A: Because now we are stuck in a judgmental paradigm that we cannot escape.

Q: Whatcha mean?
A: I guess, before the "sin," we were all like Zen monks. Everything just IS. We only lived for the present moment. No discussion, no planning, no remembering, just being and experiencing.

Now, we are constantly stuck in the mind game
  • Did I do the right thing?
  • Did so-and-so do the right thing?
  • Were the Yankees GOOD to Torre?
  • Was Torre's firing Good for the Jews?"
We are STUCK evaluating every last detail of our existence on this veil of tears and there is no escape!

Q: Wow! So what can we do NOW?
A: Hashiveinu Hashem...Hadesh Yameinu kekdem. Restore us to our original state of ignorant bliss. But, please hurry, it has taken way too long already!


Parsha: B'reishit, "Vaychula, Vaychal"

Here is an exchange on the Leining Google Group
* * * * *

I posed this question given: B'reisheet 2:1,2.
  • Vaychulu TARGUM v'ishtachlalu
  • Vaychal TARGUM v'sheitzei
Why did Onkelos change the verb?


  • "And the heavens and the earth are completed, and all their host;"(Bereishit: 2:1)
  • "and God completeth by the seventh day His work which He hath made, and ceaseth by the seventh day from all His work which He hath made." (Bereishit: 2:2)

As you can see, the same verb is used, albeit in passive and active voices.

FREE Online Youngs Literal Translation. Genesis Chapter 2:1-25.

As to the reason for the Targum's change of meaning, there is an old sefer on Onkelos named Patshegen (viewable at who explains that if "vaichulu" merely meant "completed" rather than shichlul (which he equates with the Hebrew "tikkun"), then the second pasuk would be adding nothing to the first: if the work was completed, then of course HKBH completed it. Thus, the first is interpreted as meaning perfected, while the second means completed.
- Meir



Parsha: Breisheet, "She'amar l'Olam Dai! & Darwin"

HKBH completed creation by saying DAI (DIE?).  Thus creative activity ceased.
- RSR Hirsch, B'reisheet 2:1.

It seems a certain Creative Force reined during the six Days of Creation, until S-D-Y [the Almighty] terminated it.  Yet it would appear that Creativity and even Evolution continues! So what, precisely, has stopped?

Here is a possible case of terminated creativity. As far as I know,  no human has personally witnessed a species morph into a more evolved species. No one sees mice becoming rabbits or deer. (Microbes may be an exception.) Yet adaptation has been observed within a species...

My big "kasha" on Darwin has long been this: How did Darwin understand adaptation to apply regarding evolving from one species to another? This is, as far as I know, unknown!

Now, with RSR Hirsch's assistance, I can approach a reconciliation.

When HKBH made the world during the six days, such evolution from one species to the next, or its equivalent, may have indeed reigned upon the earth.  As such, when Hashem created a certain species,  He may have done so in such a way as to evolve X into species Y and Z, etc. This pattern is coded into the original Creation Process's "DNA".

Conceivably, Darwin may have detected a legacy of that process or its equivalent. However, once S-D-Y said "DIE", this aspect of the creative process was terminated and what had already been made - and was also making - became fixed, locked. No new species would ever emerge.

Still, a remnant, a legacy of the original creativity and adaption remains, but the species have been fixed and limited - as perhaps other aspects of Creation. Therefore, since Vayachulu, the Original Creative process was terminated. Only its shadow remains



Parshah: Breishit, "Na'aseh Adam"

There are many interesting interpretations and apologetics of the First Person Plural in the case of "Na'aseh Adam." (Breishit: 1:26)

Notzrim allege a multi-faceted Divinity, [Heaven Forbid! L'havdil]. RSR Hirsch counters this interpretation, reading "Naaseh" as a royal We. Rashi favours Hashem u'veit Dino - due to HIS Humility.

I have a simple reading.  Hashem created Adam as the sum of all that went before. Adam contained components of every step of creation. Adam is therefore part Light, water, earth, reptile, bird, beast etc. - as well as heavenly and angelic.

Hashem is "quarterbacking" or exhorting the entire "team" of creatures to pull together to make Adam Harishon.   Hashem partnered with all of his previous creations, Heavenly and Earthly, to make Adam. Na'aseh is addressed to all creatures.



B'reishit: Pru uRvu & Yishuv ha'Olam

This idea is extrapolated from Hirsch Humash Breishis 1:28, New edition pm 46, S.V. "Umil'u"

It seems bepashtus that the mitzva of pru urvu is about populating the world by reproducing more humans than what were there before. This does not mean merely replacing, but adding on through increasing the numbers.
While women are technically exempt from this mitzva, their participation is essential nonetheless. Lasheves yetzarah also implies a quasi obligation upon women to participate in this goal.
Now let's step back and ask: what about those [men and women] who unfortunately are not birthing children due to various circumstances and limitations? What should the childless Jew do?
Approaching this from a communal focus - instead of from an individual focus - the resolution seems also "pashtus". Men and women who are not blessed with offspring can assist others in this noble endeavor.

The last mitzva in the Torah -  kesivas Sefer Torah - is assigned to the individual. Yet, it is rarely accomplished by the individual anymore. It usually takes a a sofer, and often it "takes a village."
So too, with bringing up the next generation. The physical parents are analogous to the sofer, and so there is room for more participation. Several tasks that can be parceled out to the community at large include:
• Assisting the new parents by providing meals or "baby-sitting" relief.
• Medical and Nursing Assistance.
• Training or Coaching "new parents."
• Training children in Talmud Torah or in parnassah.
• Participating in synagogue youth work, such as minyanim, etc.
• Giving rides when necessary for parents or children - such as to the doctor or shopping.
• Playing surrogate "grandparents" when the children have none handy.
Anyway, the list goes on. The point of this exercise is to afford an opportunity for the community to adopt this mitzva so that all may be a part of yishuv olam. So those that cannot do for themselves can still enable others in this essential Mitzva.

A childless woman, "Tzipporah," has dedicated her life to teaching children in a Jewish Day School. In addition, as an aunt, she helps her nieces and nephews by playing the role of "surrogate grandmother". Thus both her personal and professional life participate in participating in or enabling the mitzva of Yishuv Olam.


B'reisheet - "B'etzev Teil'dee Banim"

Originally published 10/19/09, 3:09 pm.
B'reishit 3:16 - B'etzev Teil'dee Banim...

Itzavon in modern Hebrew can mean "depression"

Could this Passuq refer to Post-Partum depression?
So as to render this phrase, "With [or in] "depression" shalt thou bear children..."


Parsha: Breishit, "Breishit and Religulous"

The pattern of Creation in Breishit starts from the most simple creation (grass), and ends with the most complex (woman :-). This seems parallel to Darwin's hypothesis.  I also find 'dinosaurs' in "taninim g'dolim." So, without working too hard on apologetics, the Humash narrative and broadly accepted scientific hypothesis seem comparable.
"But to argue against the evolutionary process completely on the basis of the literal meaning of the bible is to argue..."
-  Rabbi David Willig
Furthermore, Rabbi Willig suggests taking Torah seriously, but not literally.  Although you need some flexibility in order to ignore dogmatists on both sides of the debate, his approach may be quite informative.

We know from the Torah text that it makes no sense to assume that first four days of creation actually lasted twenty-four hours. The sun and moon were created on the fourth day, while plants were created on the third.  A fundamental reading of the text cannot really match what passes for a fundamental read anyway. Again, not apologetics, just a simple analysis of the text.

Were I teaching a "Martian," I would say that both Darwin wrote from a technical perspective, while the Torah approaches the same sequence from a more spiritual and poetic perspective- yet both were describing the same events (more or less). So it's primarily a gap in style, not a difference in substance.

Even my 9th grade science teacher - a secular Jew - taught us classic evolution and allowed for the possibility that God was pulling the strings. As far as I know, I think most of us students were quite comfortable with that perspective. None of us felt that it threatened our faith in Humash


Parsha: B'reishit, "First Rashi"

The Rashi on the first pasuq of the Torah is striking. There, Rashi quotes R' Yitzhak, mentioning another possible beginning to the Torah. Instead of B'reishit, R' Yitzchak suggests  "hachodesh hazzeh" (Shmot: 12:2).

Q:  Why should the Torah start at Parshat Hachodesh and not Be'reishit? What's so special about it?
A: There are several approaches. For instance, this was the first Mitzvah given to all Israel

Along those lines, the main significance is that this starts off the Mechilta. Since the earliest strand of Torah sheb'al Peh begins with this passuq,  it would be natural to start Torah shebichtav [Miqra] at that same point.



Parsha Breisheet - Word Play #1 ARM

Continuing my Study of Breisheet with R.S.R. Hirsch...End of Chapter 2:25
Vayihyu sh'neihem "Arumim"
Beginning of chapter 3:1 "v'haNachash hayah "Arum"

Of course the words convey different meanings, the former "nakedness" the latter "cunning." Nevertheless the [apparently] common root - juxtaposed so closely together - seems to be an obvious literary device.
NB: While R. Hirsch does indeed mention "Eryeh" in conjunction with the earlier term "Arumim", he does not seem to focus upon that definition.. Yet Arayot - as in "Giluy Arayot" - seems to be the obvious focus of the Nahash's meddling into Havvah's business. And this is so indicated by the Midrash.


Parsha B'reisheet - Word Play #2 CHWH[Y]

Chavah [HWH] is named by Adam [Breisheet 3:20] after the incident with the Nahash. Until then she is merely "ha'Ishah"

R.S.R. Hirsch points out an interesting word play with the Aramaic word "Chivya" [Hiwyah].
The root of the Hebrew Chavah and the Aramaic Chivyah [snake] are virtually the same. This suggests a very different approach to Chavah's name than the text's own reason [viz. Eim kol Ha]. At any rate, both reasons are apparently the result of the Nahash incidedent
See R.S.R. Hirsch Breisheet 3:6 p. 99 s.v. Sa'avah in the New Edition.