If one believes that our world is billions of years old, i.e. accepting the idea of each day in Sheshis Imei Berieshit (the Six Days of Creation) as eras and not literal days, then how does one understand keeping Shabbat as the seventh day, thus taking that 'day' literally?

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    Simple answer: Because the Torah says to. – Scimonster Oct 22 '14 at 9:55
  • One doesn't necessarily accept that. Related judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/29741/… – rosends Oct 22 '14 at 10:45
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    You answered it yourself - it's a great reason to believe the text literally. Or else, Shabbat-the-7th-day commemorates the 7 eras. But then I always wonder at what point does one start to take Breishith literally? – Danny Schoemann Oct 22 '14 at 11:48
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    I don't understand the question. Why does keeping Shabbat on the seventh day imply a completely literal reading of the creation story? – Daniel Oct 22 '14 at 12:12
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    I like the fact that the two comments above this one both more or less assume the answer's trivial, but in opposite directions. DS - The explicit context of the question is those who don't take "yom" in the text to mean what we mean now by that word. Daniel - We clearly use "yom" to mean 24-hour day in the context of Shabbat, and we declare Shabbat as a testimony to the "yamim" of Creation, so I think its fair to wonder how that could be consistent with assuming that these two yoms mean different things. – Isaac Moses Oct 22 '14 at 13:08

"And it was evening, and it was morning, *one* day"?

Also, one can consider that "time started" in the way we know it only at the end of creation with the creation of Shabbat. Thus, only Shabbat has to be considered a 24 hour day. For example the sun moon and stars were created on the fourth "day" so that "before" then could not have been days as we know them. Before Yom HaShishi, each day was turned on and off explicitly. It is only at the very end (Vayechulu) do we have the actual time being significant.

Also consider that only man has an appreciation of time. This could imply that "time started" only with the creation of Adam. This could lead to a hashkafa article, but that is too long and philosophical to go into now.

  • "only man has an appreciation of time" ?? – Double AA Oct 22 '14 at 15:00
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    @DoubleAA As I say it is too long to go into now, but I have seen references (in secular sources) that only man is a "time binding" being. I do not have the sources at home, but that is what I remember having read. – sabbahillel Oct 22 '14 at 23:30

Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb suggests that in the original six days of creation time moved faster than today. just like in the embryonic stage one does not need to breathe through his nostrils or eat through his mouth, etc.

so you can have a 24 hour day spanning billions of years the rules were different in those embryonic days

(we also find for example Kain and Abel born and grown up in the sixth day according to the midrash)



  • So why don't we keep billion year long "24 hour" Sabbatot nowadays? – Double AA Oct 22 '14 at 17:18
  • @DoubleAA physical time is a creation. God can do whatever He wants with it. – ray Oct 22 '14 at 17:19
  • I don't see how that is relevant, even if it is true. – Double AA Oct 22 '14 at 17:20
  • @DoubleAA and your comment is relevant? i;m trying to show that it is plausible, we also find kain and hevel born and grown up in the sixth day for example. – ray Oct 22 '14 at 17:20
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    because time moves differently now. our 24 hours is equivalent to billions of years back then – ray Oct 22 '14 at 17:24

Shemos 17:25-26:

ויאמר משה אכלוהו היום, כי-שבת היום ליהוה: היום, לא תמצאוהו בשדה. ששת ימים, תלקטוהו; וביום השביעי שבת, לא יהיה-בו

And Moses said "eat [the Manna] today, as today is a Sabbath for G-d. Today, you will not find it in the field. 6 days collect it, and on the seventh rest, for it will not be there.

This verse cannot be interpreted to refer to an era. It is clear from this verse that the Sabbath is one day. So when we are told to rest on the seventh day, it is clear that it is one day.

A clearer verse (which happens to be in Shabbos Day kiddush according to many customs) - Shemos 20:7-9 (the aseres hadibros):

זכור את-יום השבת, לקדשו. ששת ימים תעבוד, ועשית כל-מלאכתך. ויום, השביעי--שבת, ליהוה אלוהיך:

Remember the Sabbath to sanctify it. 6 days work, and do all your activities, and on the seventh day, rest for Hashem your G-d.

Again, here clearly this is not referring to eras, and this is the injunction to keep the Sabbath. It also refers to the Sabbath as the seventh day.

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    +!, but that's not the episode that's mentioned in Kiddush. – Isaac Moses Oct 22 '14 at 19:16
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    @IsaacMoses that's the first ! I've ever gotten! While that's true, I'm not sure why that detracts from it's validity as an indication of when Shabbos is. But I just thought of a better verse to add. – Y     e     z Oct 22 '14 at 19:31
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    @YEZ I don't think he was disputing that Shabbat is 24 Earth hours. The question as I understood it was Hashkafic: how does a 24 hour period commemorate a billion year period? – Double AA Oct 22 '14 at 19:33
  • Would the downvoter please let me know how I could improve this post? – Y     e     z Oct 22 '14 at 19:38
  • @DoubleAA I don't see that question being asked. The question asked is "how do we justify taking that day literally and not the rest?" which I answered by saying we know it from other sources. – Y     e     z Oct 22 '14 at 19:39

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