Letters Sept. 2019
“Rabbi, Be Consistent”
Reader: Regarding the recent post about the universe’s age [you maintain it is 14 billion years old], if you’re going to follow the scientists, why not follow them fully? They’ve also proven that the global Flood was a myth and that the Exodus did not occur. So, based on the Rambam you quoted, those stories are also not intended to be literal. And then the entire Jewish religion stands on nothing.
All the best, Yosef
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: We don’t follow people [scientists] but truth. A scientist—and any person—holds no monopoly on truth. While the scientists are correct about the universe being far older than 5780 years, they err in other areas. Furthermore, when the Torah tells us a history occurred, these are God’s words, and He trumps a human’s theories, every time. Nothing “proven” by science contradicts Torah accounts as God created both science and Torah. Thus, scientists rejecting the Flood are wrong as we have God’s authority that it occurred. And nothing in nature conclusively denies the Flood: all scientists have are theories. And the 5780-year-old age of the universe is not a matter of Torah law. From Adam, yes, we count lifespans and arrive at 5780 years from Adam to today. But the 6 days prior to Adam were not 24-hour periods. Torah does not say this.
A Rabbi Disagreeing with God
Reader: A certain Rabbi holds that killing everybody is wrong. For the Scriptures says that God (HaShem) has mercies, which in Hebrew designates as plural to mean never ending mercies. Bless be He, King of the Universe.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: “Never ending mercies” are only for those deserving. The rabbi broke the first rule of Torah study: “God speaks truth.” And God commanded many sinners on many occasions to be killed. As God wishes the best for man, if man corrupts himself beyond a set threshold of sin, he loses his right to life, which he has received only conditionally. There is a “point of no return” which Pharaoh crossed, Amalek crossed, the 7 Nations and others crossed, where God determined that they die, as they no longer were redeemable and they would corrupt others.
To argue on God is the height of arrogance and foolishness. It is also heresy and Maimonides says such a heretic loses his Olam Haba and we are commanded to destroy him (13 Principles).