There are posts about the age of the universe according to the Torah, but this question intends specifically to only ask:

Are are any sources that reveal what the opinion of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein is in this regard?

I am looking for primary sources of the opinion of Reb Moshe only, not personal opinions or other discussions.

That aside, even though this isn't the place for a generalized discussion, I'm just sharing this here to illustrate a reason for why one may initially think that he didn't believe the universe to be billions of years old (Igrot Kodesh, vol. 13, p. 143):

"...there are those who wish to interpret the statement of our Sages that “G‑d builds worlds and destroys them” — as well as the statements in Zohar and Kabbalistic works about primordial man — in the literal sense. In other words, that there was a physical man, and physical worlds, which were later destroyed. Only afterwards was our world created, which is now 5716 years old. This interpretation is indeed offered in several books, as well as in the works of some of the early Kabbalists.

In areas of Kabbala, as in all areas of Torah, there is only validity to opposing views until a ruling is reached and issued in accordance with the parameters of Torah discussion. Once a ruling is issued according to one opinion, only this opinion is considered true and valid with regard to practical decisions and actions. The same is true in this regard:

Until the Arizal, there was a discussion and debate. The Arizal, however, is considered authoritative on Kabbala by world Jewry, including both Ashkenazim (such as the Alter Rebbe and the Gaon of Vilna) and Sephardim. He clearly expressed his deciding view by saying that the intent was never that there was a physical world similar to the one that now exists, as a physical cosmos came about only in the current “Shemita cycle.”7 From the Torah’s perspective, one may no longer attempt to explain events (such as how Creation actually happened, etc.) in any manner at odds with his view."

Footnote 7 there points to Torah Ohr of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, 51d. The relevant part reads:

דהנה איתא בס' התמונה (בהקדמה לתמונה ג' דכ"ז כ"ט ל"א) שזה העולם הוא שמיטה שניה ולפניה הי' ג"כ שמיטה אחת שהיתה נמשכת ממדת החסד והשמיטה דעכשיו (ר"ל שית אלפי שני דהוי עלמא וחד חרוב) הוא ממדת הפחד ולכן דרכיה חזקים וקשים ורעים כו'. דהיינו שהי' בה חורבן בית ראשון ושני כו'. משא"כ בשמיטה הראשונה שהיתה ממדת חסד היתה העבודה באופן אחר וגם התורה הי' באופן אחר יעו"ש והיו רק טוב וחסד כו' כך דעת ס' התמונה ואחריו נמשכו המקובלים האחרונים לדון מזה שמוכרח להיות עוד חמש שמיטות אחר שמיטה זו כי צ"ל ז' שמיטות כנגד ז' מדות עליונות כו' (וכמ"ש שם בסה"ת) אבל האריז"ל פליג ע"ז במה שלמדו שצ"ל עוד ה' שמיטות וגם בענין מה שעוה"ז הוא שמיטה שניה עם היות דס"ל ג"כ כן. ולכן פתחה התורה בבי"ת בראשית לומר שכבר היתה שמיטה א' ועכשיו היא שמיטה שני'. אבל פי' האריז"ל דאין הכונה לומר שהי' עולם גשמי כמו עוה"ז דעכשיו עם שמים וארץ גשמיים ודצח"מ כי זה לא הי' רק בשמיטה זו דוקא לבד וענין השמיטה שהיתה לפני זו הוא ענין עולם התהו דהיינו ענין ז' מלכין קדמאין דתהו שמתו שהוא ענין ספירות רוחניי' כנודע וענין שמיטה דעכשיו הוא ענין עולם התקון שנעשה אח"כ (ועיין בלק"ת פ' קדושים ובעמ"ה שער עולם התהו פמ"ו ד' כ"ה ע"א) וכנודע בכהאריז"ל

The מראי מקומות הערות וציונים on p. 167 states:

אבל האריז"ל פליג ע"ז: בשער מאמרי הרשב"י לאד"ר (מד, ב) בס' הלקוטים פ' כי תשא, שם פ' קדושים -- ראה ג'כ שיעור קומה להרמ"ק סי' פג, לבנת הספיר (ירושלים תרעג). וראה ד'ה ואתם הדבקים תרפד בארוכה.

Here are there references cited therein:

שער מאמרי הרשב"י לאד"ר מד ב

שיעור קומה להרמ"ק סיף פג

לבנת הספיר ירושלים תרעג

Based on the above, I would assume that Reb Moshe would also agree that the teachings of the AriZal have been accepted by all of Yisroel, and it is therefore incumbent to believe in the traditional age of the universe as expressed in the Hebrew calendar. However when discussing it with others his opinion wasn't clear to me. Accordingly, to reiterate:

I am looking for primary sources of the opinion of Reb Moshe only, not personal opinions or other discussions.

  • 3
    It's also logically possible that R Moshe had a different understanding of the Arizal's position than Chabad. Just because two people agree the Ari was right doesn't mean they agree what the Ari held.
    – Double AA
    Aug 30, 2023 at 17:35
  • 1
    @double also a possibility, which is even more of a reason for which I would like to see some sources for what his view is Aug 30, 2023 at 17:53
  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question Yackov. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Aug 31, 2023 at 3:25
  • Rabbi Moshe Aharon Stern told me there is no such thing as a psak in something which is not le'halachah.
    – The GRAPKE
    Aug 31, 2023 at 14:24
  • 1
    @TheGRAPKE I don't see a request for a psak...
    – shmosel
    Aug 31, 2023 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


In R. Moshe Feinstein's Iggeroth Moshe (vol. 6, Yoreh De'ah, section 73) he wrote:

וספרי למודי חול שיש שם עניני כפירה בבריאת העולם ודאי הם ספרי המינות שאסור ללמד בהם וצריך להשגיח שמורי למודי חול לא ילמדו בהם להתלמידים ואם א"א להשיג ספרים אחרים צריך לקרוע אותן הדפים מספרי הלמוד

And secular textbooks that contain matters of heresy regarding the creation of the world are undoubtedly books of apostasy, and it is forbidden to teach from them. You must supervise teachers of secular subjects to ensure that they do not teach from them to the students. If it is impossible to obtain alternative books, then you must rip out the [offending] pages from the textbooks.

Though it is not absolutely explicit, it seems implicit that the condemnation is of the view articulated in secular textbooks that the age of the universe is billions of years old.

R. Moshe's son-in-law, R. Dr. Moshe Tendler, also wrote (Evolution, a Theory that Failed to Evolve):

What are the religious/ halakhic problems posed by the theory [of evolution]? There are but two. One is inherent in the theory - the age of the universe measured in billions of years, not 5748 as recorded on our calendars. The other is randomness or undirected evolution that denies existence of a creator.

If one assumes that R. Tendler's views are generally in consonance with those of his father-in-law R. Moshe, then one may suspect that R. Moshe also rejected the notion of an ancient earth.

  • 2
    Perhaps ... but then again when R' Moshe was growing up, the prevailing scientific view was that the universe was infinitely old. A billion is still a lot closer to 6000 than it is to infinity.
    – Shalom
    Sep 15, 2023 at 0:26
  • @shalom even nowadays no secular scientist is saying that the universe is 13.x billions of years of, they just say that's how much time was since the alleged big band, but they say it's possible for this to have existed before or in another level, so that would also be heresy according to all Torah sources Sep 18, 2023 at 16:58
  • @B''HBi'ezras--BoruchHashem "that would also be heresy according to all Torah sources" I assume you mean that the denial of יש מאין is what would constitute the heresy. Sep 18, 2023 at 17:05
  • Yes. And the entire idea of creation in general (which is dependent on yeshiva meayin). Sep 18, 2023 at 17:31
  • 1
    @Shalom incorrect. Look up when the debate for whether to include the modern age of the universe in textbooks, and you'll find that it was raging at precisely that time. Sep 18, 2023 at 23:48

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