More Discussions for this daf
1. Menorah made by the Hasmoneans 2. Earth revolving around sun 3. Films
4. Lod 5. The Word "Panim" 6. Answer to the Question of Chashad

Richard Caleskie asked:

Where is it brought down that (according to Torah) the earth revolves around the sun, not the sun around the earth? Are there different opinions about this? What does the Rambam say? I was taught as you have written, "This is due to the 365 day revolution of the earth around the sun." What's the best way to prensent this concept to someone who holds that Torah states the sun revolves around the earth? (Thank you.)

Richard Caleskie, Denver, CO, USA

The Kollel replies:

Scripture normally describes the sun and moon as circling the earth (e.g. Tehilim 19:6, Yehoshua 10:12).

My understanding of this and many other statements of the Torah that seem "inconsistent" with modern science is that the Torah takes an experiential approach; that is, the Torah always speaks from the perspective of the one who is experiencing events. For example, the Talmud tells us (Kesuvos 30a) that "All is in the hands of heaven, with the exception of colds and fevers (which a person can normally prevent by taking care of himself and not standing in the cold without proper protection)." A student once challenged this based on the scientific fact that colds and fevers are transferred through viruses and microbia, not by simply standing in the cold. The answer is: just ask your mother! Why does she get upset when you go out in the winter without a coat? Because going out without a coat will make you sick! You can say that it's because your body's immune system becomes weakened by the weather and cannot fight the viruses us usual, or you can explain it any other way; in either case, don't go out without a coat (and don't get sneezed on by one who did), and you won't get a cold, go out without a coat and you will!

Similarly, the experience of a person on earth is that the sun and moon circle us while we seem to be stationary, so scripture describes the sun and moon as revolving around us. It makes no difference what the exact mechanics of that experience are; ancient Greek mythology, Copernican theory, Newtonian or Einsteinian physics; in any case, the result (i.e. our experience) is the same, and that is what the Torah describes. (That is, the Torah is not describing the mechanics of the experience, but the experience itself.)

I hope that this is clear. IMHO, this approach is a key to understanding many other statements of the Torah and Chazal as well.

Best wishes,

Mordecai Kornfeld

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