SkyDome: Bereshit 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Is life better in a climate-controlled environment? Or should we be willing to regularly spend time outdoors even if it means being subjected to a non-ideal climate?

Whether or not life would be better under cover, our earliest ancestors believed that the sky was, in fact, a roof:

The Pitch: “God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, that it may separate water from water.’ God made the expanse, and it separated the water which was below the expanse from the water which was above the expanse. And it was so. God called the expanse Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.” – Genesis 1:6-8

Swing #1: “The creation of the firmament, dry land and seas in fact constitutes one unit that may be termed ‘the limitation of the waters.’ This should help explain why the term ‘good’ fails to appear on Day Two in reference to the firmament. In fact, it does appear in reference to the firmament – but only [on the third day of Creation], at the end of the process of the ‘limitation of the waters,’ a process in which the creation of the firmament constitutes merely a preliminary stage. Only after the waters have found their final place, only after the creation of the sea-land-sky system is complete, does the word ‘good’ appear. Only that which is complete and ‘in place’ can be termed good in God’s eyes.” – Rav Chanoch Waxman in Torah MiEtzion: New Readings in Tanach, Rabbi Ezra Bick and Rabbi Yakov Beasley, ed.

Swing #2: “[The word firmament] is based on the Septuagint rendering of the Hebrew word raqi’, ‘beaten out, stamped’ (as of metal), suggesting a thin sheet stretched out to form the vault of the sky.” – E.A. Speiser, Genesis: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary

Swing #3: “This ancient cosmology, which the Israelites shared with their neighbors, included a flat disk-shaped earth with mountains at its ends supporting a multi-layered sky, or domed firmament. The sun, moon, and stars crossed this dome in regular and predictable patterns. Moreover, the dome had chambers through which the water above it came down as rain, and there was also water under the earth, and water around the whole making up the cosmic seas.” – Bill T. Arnold, Genesis

Late-Inning Questions: Does our ancestors’ ancient understanding of the universe make the creation story seem naive? Or does it seem charming? What aspect of the creation story do you most wish you could have witnessed first-hand?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: If you missed last month’s drive-up food drive and vaccine clinic, you’ll have another chance to join us this Sunday from 11am-1pm. Stay healthy and generous!

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of life under a dome, when the New York Yankees and Mets initially considered getting new stadiums, the original plan was for both of them to have retractable roofs. That might have come in handy Monday night, when fans waited for hours at Yankee Stadium for a decisive playoff game only to hear that it was postponed until the middle of the next afternoon. All big-league parks need retractable roofs, period.

Shabbat Shalom!