Elliot Dorff

Elliot Dorff

Dr. Elliot Dorff, Rabbi, Ph.D.
Conservative Judaism
Rector, Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy
American Jewish University
Los Angeles, CA

Personal Statement:

Judaism asserts that God is Creator – indeed, as the morning liturgy asserts, that God renews creation each day -- but we do not know how God created the world originally or renews it now.  In fact, the Bible includes at least three disparate descriptions of how that happened (Genesis 1:1-2:3; Genesis 2:4-25; Psalms 104).  Furthermore, the Rabbis assert that “There are 70 faces to the Torah” (Numbers Rabbah 13:15-16) – that is, any verse in the Torah, including those about creation, can be interpreted in multiple ways.    As a result, one central feature of the Jewish mode is open and vigorous questioning, and that historically has applied not only to the interpretation and application of classical Jewish texts but also to scientific research.   That is because, as Samson Raphael Hirsch emphasized, God’s revelation occurs not only through the Bible but also through the world God created, and so both biblical interpretation and scientific research are important ways to know God, God’s universe, and what God wants of us.  Thus the Jewish tradition has demonstrated enormous elasticity in interpreting its creation texts, and through the ages commentators have fit them to the latest scientific findings.  I therefore understand this exhibit as a way to broaden my knowledge of how God created humans and the awe and gratitude that that should invoke in me.