Honestly, doesn’t it drive us nuts ! There are plenty of books and ideas about the Creation of the universe, our world and us. G – d created everything but we just don’t find the answer to the HOW and Why. Scientists come up with all kinds of scientific explanations and formulas but scientists are unable to provide an answer to the WHY. So, philosophers try and they come up with various answers but nothing definite.
We still don’t know how G – d created everything existing out of nothing. Moreover, the first sentences appearing in the Torah seem to be allegorical and understanding them in a literal sense may be a big mistake. There are books such as THE ZOHAR (Book of Splendor), the entire Lurianic Kabbalah, the Book of HaTemunah, Ma’arechet HaE – lohut or Sha’arei Leshem Shevo ve’Achlama explaining the Creation process using symbols. Without symbols we wouldn’t be able to grasp anything because we are dealing with a incorporeal infinite G – d.
Various Rabbis have published their own ideas about Creation and came to different conclusion than others. Rabbi Yitzchak ben Shmuel of Akko (13 – 14 century), for instance, already explained the age of the universe in his time. And he was very close to the 15 billion years scientist state today. I think that Rabbi Yitzchak of Akko used a formula given by the Sefer HaTemunah in order to count the age of the universe. Many of us know about the claim that worlds are being destroyed by G – d according to a Shemittah cycle. This idea was spread by Sefer HaTemuah in the Middle Ages. The idea itself had been extremely popular until Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (the Ramak) and Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the ARI) said that the statements made in Sefer HaTemunah are not true at all.
And then we have the famous Rabbi Israel Lifschitz (1782 – 1860), claiming that Adam HaRishon and Eve (Chava) were not the first humans but there were previous worlds before them which got destroyed by G – d. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote an entire commentary on these ideas. Ideas explaining us that OUR world is now 5775 years old but that there were different worlds before us. Meaning that our planet and universe is 15 billion years old but there were other people on this planet before Adam and Eve were created and our “cycle”, so to speak, began. I admit that it does sound like a science fiction movie. 🙂
There are many many statements on the Internet whether all this could be true or just fiction. However, what I have noticed is that most people writing about this subject “only” use Aryeh Kaplan’s commentary in order to make up their minds. The question is: Who is really studying the original sources such as Sefer HaTemunah, the writings of Rabbi Yitzchak of Akko, Ma’arechet HaE – lohut or the Derush Or HaChaim by Rabbi Israel Lifschitz appearing at the end of one of his Mishnaic commentaries ? Most of these writings are only available in Hebrew and some are only available on microfilm such as Otzar HaChaim by Rabbi Yitzchak of Akko.
I always find it more interesting to go into the original sources because I doubt that even an Aryeh Kaplan gives us all the details. What really amazes me is our human curiosity. We all know that we will never find the prefect answer to the HOW or WHY but we keep on searching and searching. In the end, only G – d has the answer but sometimes, it is the search for an answer satisfying us. The answer itself may be disappointing but we still continue our search. We are curious to find out who we really are and where we come from. Why are we here and what is our purpose. If we had an answer, maybe we would lead a happier life. Others maybe wouldn’t because they see everything as a burden.
It is the search for answers keeping us alive and making our life meaningful.