(Torah Portion Noach) Dinosaurs!
I recall viewing an exhibit of a skeletal model of a dinosaur at the Museum of Natural History. It was extremely intriguing and its mammoth size was truly astounding. Needless to say, our society is fascinated by these creatures.
It begs us to ask, when did these creatures exist?
The information provided by the museum dates the fossils as being hundreds of millions of years old.
Now, look at any Jewish calendar and you will see that we are in the year 5774 from the creation of man. There is quite a difference between five thousand years and millions of years.
The Netziv – Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin o.b.m. provides clarity on this matter. The Torah relates the order of what was created during the six days of creation and how mankind developed, invented, and inhabited the world.
After idolatry was introduced, society began to spiral downward. Licentious behavior and thievery became the common mode of civilization. This angered G-d and He decided to bring a colossal flood to the world wiping out mankind and all living creatures and organisms on the face of the earth.
G-d provided the people with a warning. He instructed the righteous Noach to build an enormous ark, providing Noach with its dimensions and specifics. For 120 years Noach was busy constructing the ark. When he was asked what he was doing, Noach warned the people of impending doom if they would not change their wayward ways.
The people ignored Noach and kept on sinning. Finally, in the year 1656 years after creation, the day came when the rain began to fall. G-d instructed Noach to enter the ark with his wife, his three sons and their wives, which totaled eight human beings, and at least a pair of every animal, fowl and insect.
Our Sages tell us that society had become so corrupt and immoral that it affected and altered the animals as well. Animals began mating with different species – something that goes against their nature – so that animal life had to be destroyed as well.
The animal pairs that came aboard the ark were the ones who were loyal and faithful to their own species.
The Torah tells us that the rains of the flood lasted for 40 days and forty nights. Why the number forty? Our Sages tell us that since the people bothered G-d to continually create bastards as a result of their adulterous practices, their punishment was specifically 40 days of rain corresponding to the 40 day period from conception until the embryos of the illegitimate babies became recognizable.
As we said previously, the animals began mating with different species. We know what crossbreeds produce; the mule is a crossbreed of a donkey and a horse. Before the flood, the unions of the varied animals created monstrosities, including the dinosaurs. These creatures were not permitted to enter the ark because of their corrupt source, and they became extinct with the rest of life that existed before the flood.
So why were these remains found rather recently? Explains the Netziv; G-d specifically kept the remains of these creatures hidden from the generations that immediately followed the flood so that they don’t repeat the bizarre mating processes and produce these mammoth creatures. He only allowed them to be discovered thousands of years later so that we may recognize and appreciate the awesomeness of G-d’s creations at a time when the potency to produce these awesome creatures has been diminished.
There are those who claim that dinosaurs and the like are prehistoric creatures. Did something exist before our current world? Our Sages and Kabalah relate that when G-d was in the process of creating the world, He created several worlds and then destroyed them, until He created our current perfect world.
The Netziv explains that these fossils cannot be remnants of previous worlds, because there was nothing left of those destroyed worlds, and therefore, these ancient fossils must be attributed only to the generation of the flood.
What still requires explanation is the huge discrepancy of the conventional dating of fossils and our tradition. Since there was a massive flood, with boiling waters reaching 30 feet higher than the tallest mountain remaining on the earth for almost a year’s time, and that the sun, moon and other constellations were suspended during the year of the flood, it disqualifies the conventional dating methods of these fossils and fragments, for the altered environment certainly altered and distorted the dating capabilities.
Wishing you a restful, peaceful and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks