by Mel Scult for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Kaplan on Creation: An Explanation of Jewish Mission
The account in Genesis is perplexing to the modern person. We inevitably get bogged down with the first chapter of the Bible because it seems to conflict with our knowledge that comes from the scientific study of the natural world. Mordecai Kaplan being the modern man par-excellence accepted the scientific view of the universe but realized, of course, that the Torah has a different perspective in telling us about the origin of things. In this selection he focuses on the connection between the creation of the world and God's attention to Israel. Though Kaplan did not believe in the concept of the chosen people, he did see a special task and destiny for the Jewish people.
While only a few may be chosen, every person and every group may have a special destiny depending on their ability and their character and their history. Kaplan explains here that insofar as the rabbis are concerned, God created the world that it might be perfect and turned to the Jewish people as the special agents in that perfecting process.
In Kaplan's Own Words [ From his notes]
"To the average person, the opening chapter of the Bible is an obstruction to an appreciation of the Bible as a whole. Finding that the account of creation is at variance with the scientific view of the origin of the world, he concludes that it can hold out to him very little of spiritual value. The various interpretations whereby apologists attempt to reconcile the Biblical account of creation with science are far fetched. To explain seven days as denoting seven aeons, ... does not add to an actual understanding of what the story of creation is intended to convey.