Especially the Creation Story sounds like a story written down by someone totally deaf. The seas don’t fizz or roar. The birds don’t chirp or twitter. The animals don’t moo or howl. Even the humans don’t make a peep.
More than that, there are many indications that impressions things make count more than how we could intellectually analyze things.
NB: We all understand the Creation Story isn’t a recipe for how to create the world. Yet, it is often treated and translated like that. That’s so silly. Rather, the Creation story tells two things. 1. G^d created everything. And, 2. All we see is ordered and in harmony. This harmony points at a Creator. So, it presents how Creation was set up to work, not how it was done.
And G^d said
No one was ever closer to G^d than Moses. No moment they were closer than in the Holies of Holiest. There, the Torah records that G^d spoke ‘to him’ twice. Our prime Commentator, Rashi, explains this ‘to him’ to mean to Himself. G^d was talking to Himself while Moses was overhearing Him.
So, G^d was not directly addressing Moses. Even him, in the holiest place in the world, He let only overhear Him. All the more so, G^d must have only spoken to Himself with any other Prophet or creature overhearing Him. So, when G^d said … in the Creation Story, He was talking to Himself. The Universe may have overheard Him but not more.
This way, we can easily grasp all the double references. He said to Himself: There should be light. And then, He created all the different types of light.
The Torah lists bats among the birds. But bats are mammals.
Surely, the Jews receiving the Torah knew that. But this is not classifying animals biologically. ‘Birds’ is a bad translation. It rather lists flying animals.
The Sun and the Moon
The Torah describes the Sun and the Moon as [equally] great heavenly bodies. Then it speaks about the greater one and the smaller one. The Rabbis explain that the Moon went to the Creator and complained: You can’t have two captains on one ship. That’s not fair. G^d agreed and since the Moon came, He made it smaller. And, He made it more important by letting it shine by night—the most spiritual part of the day. (In fact, He made it not just smaller; He also makes it wax and wane, be in constant flux, reflecting (pun intended) human history.) And G^d asks the Jews to bring a monthly animal sacrifice for Him as atonement for His ‘mistake.’
Now, talking about this world, how can one believe that G^d made the Moon smaller? G^d may do anything so we can believe anything, but we know that G^d prefers not to upset the natural world.
The answer is that the Jews who received the Torah already knew that the Sun is many times larger than the Moon. They knew astronomy. But that’s not the issue. The Torah doesn’t care about what is but about what things looks like. As follows. With a (total) solar eclipse, the Moon slowly slides in front of the Sun. When it’s about to cover all of the Sun, there is a tiny bit still uncovered. There is a thin ring of light around the Moon except for a small area from where a big beam of light still reaches our eyes. In a few moments, it will cover that too. It looks like a ring with a giant stone. It’s called the signet ring effect. But then it happens. As the Moon begins to block that beam, on the tail end of the picture, a new beam emerges. The ‘stone’ now sits on the Moon’s opposite rim. That means that the Moon can’t completely eclipse the Sun. Now, had the Moon been a tiny bit closer to Earth, it would have. And that is meant by G^d made the Moon smaller. He made it look smaller when He widened its path around Earth a little.
At first, G^d created all the different forms of light. The Rabbis say that, in the Torah, darkness is also a creation—it is not just an absence of light. After all, the Prophet says (Isaiah 45:7): He shapes light (from stuff already there) and creates darkness (out of thin air). No one can understand what this black light (as different from artificial ultraviolet light) means on a simple level. Unless one knows the basics of how the eye is built, that is.
The eye is not as primitive as an electric camera. The retina is part of the brain; the eye ‘nerve’ is a brain pathway between the retina and the rest of the brain. Ten layers of nerve cells process light that reaches the receptors.
The eye has two types of receptors. Those able to say light (and darkness, we shall soon see) by shallow light, and those who can call three different wavelength (and their opposites) by high-intensity light integrating the three basic colors into all the colors of the visible-light spectrum.
It says that G^d created light. No colors yet. When receptors in the eye are hit with a dim light shape, they indicate light and no-darkness: two kinds of signals. Immediately look away at a white surface and you see the light shape in black! The same works for color receptors. Look at a bright red light, then look away at a white surface and you see an ‘imprint’ of the light in green. The eye also creates another type of contrast. When light falls on the retina, the cells around the receptors ‘seeing’ the light become active too. They suppress that light reception. They form a black contour line around the light shape. This contrast makes it easier to see faint light.
In faint light, the eye creates white light and black light. It’s not about what is but about what humans see.
The Sky and the Land
The fifth letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is often a prefix to a noun meaning the thing just mentioned. It’s commonly translated as ‘the.’ But, the first verse of the Torah says G^d created [the] Heaven and [the] Earth, as it is commonly translated. Yet, no one talked about either before. Which the-s?
Truth is, this doesn’t talk about what was said but about what we see. The fifth letter in the first verse means this or that. It’s not about our Planet Earth and the Universe. It simply says G^d created all of this sky (as we see it now) and all of this land (as we see it now). Fancy translations aren’t always correct. Generally, they are wrong: more fancy than translations.
It was Dusk, and it was Dawn
It was evening, and it was morning: one day. That’s how it’s commonly translated. It doesn’t add up (pardon the pun). An evening and a morning don’t form a complete day. They span a complete night. But, this too is a mistranslation. You can’t see a morning or an evening.
The word translated as evening is literally mixture. Light and darkness mixed. The English has dusk, twilight, nightfall, sunset. That one can see. The word rendered morning is related to the word for livestock with their light and dark patches. Again, darkness and light mingle. In English, one says dawn, daybreak, sun-up, sunrise. That you may see. They too function as pars-pro-toto for the half day that follows. Daybreak and the following daytime plus nightfall and the night that follows, that is one complete day.
Eve Saw that the Tree
When G^d looks at something, so to speak, He gives it more strength. But the more Eve looked at the forbidden tree, the stronger her sense that she wanted to eat from it. It reads that she saw that the tree was good to eat.
Jews Conduct Themselves Like That
Jewish Law rules like this. Microscopical animals are kosher—they are not there. The Sun rises, and the Sun sets—those we know that it’s really the Earth turning. We care about perception.
However, honesty is prime. The Rabbis warn us to be honest. That means that we should not show ourselves differently from who we are. Don’t pretend to be a saint while your standards do not match that (yet).