Midrash Tehillim 90:13 says that God created and destroyed 974 worlds before this one. What exactly does that mean?

I've heard it used in defense of a modern understanding of evolution and cosmology but don't really get why God would create a universe and destroy it 600 times, then create a universe and destroy it a couple hundred more times with our solar system, and then create it and destroy it another couple hundred times with slight variations of animal life. And then do the one final creation of everything again. I don't grasp the logic behind that interpretation.

So what exactly does it mean to create and destroy 974 worlds?

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    Very related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/15156/759 – Double AA Jul 4 '13 at 5:13
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    @DoubleAA That seems to bring up something in Chagiga that it refers to generations that never were that are scattered out throughout history. Is this the same thing? If so why would anyone point to it as a way of explaining the age of the universe and the presence of fossils? – A L Jul 5 '13 at 3:31
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    this is also brought in midrash raba bereishis. with God saying this is not pleasing to Me before destroying it. which is quite puzzling given that He knows the future. – ray Apr 11 '16 at 20:21
  • sheviras hakelim – michael Dec 30 '18 at 22:05

My rabbi, who is now passed put it as follows: (he was also a physicist back in the day)

this reply was given when he was asked about the nature of teshuva, and whether it is akin to having ones bad deeds simply erased from ones book of history? No, said he, "teshuva is Gd recreating your individual world anew from day one of creation, which includes that individual life story, minus the sin event"

which sparked a debate about how Gd can do such a thing-recreate the universe. and among other topics this came up as well:

the 974 destroyed and recreated worlds is not only an event which happened back in time, but an ongoing immense fission reaction of unimaginably massive proportions, which occurs constantly, to buffer the infiniteness of Gd and allow the finite universe to exist at all.

This mind bending concept is variously described in human terms in many ways, but all attempts to describe a physical action are too large to fathom, except by pure meditation on how Gd did and does create the universe, and sustain it.

The kabala talks of the tsimtsum-constriction, and various commentators describe this visually, but in order to fully appreciate the gravity of such a concept one must first attempt to attempt to appreciate how large Gd is, if at all possible.

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I think this by use of 974 this Medrash confused/conflated another teaching how we received Torah 974 generations early. in 26 vs 1000 = 974 see ' the recent complex creation framework' and 'Abraham until the Exodus'

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    Roger, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for your first answer! If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. I hope you'll look around and find other Q&A of interest and stay learning with us. – mbloch Apr 11 '16 at 18:45
  • It's not "Medrish," its Midrash. The phrase "the Medrish says" is incorrect also since there is no one single version of Midrash, most of them differ. – Turk Hill Feb 17 at 3:23

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