Friday, May 18, 2012

Continental Drift

Describing the act of creation, the Torah tells us: "And Hashem said: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.  And it was so" (Genesis 1:9).  This verse in the Torah refers to the creation of a solitary continent, which became visible only after the waters that covered the Earth's surface subsided.  In other words, at the beginning of creation, only a single vast ocean surrounded the only continent on Earth.

This description is in contrast with the precise picture we have of the earth today, with the oceans surrounding the seven continents: Eurasia, Africa, Australia, Greenland, North America, South America and Antarctica.

Amazingly, the Zohar (12:1) tells us about significant geological changes that took place on Earth after the initial period of creation: "One single continent came out of the water, and from it seven continents were formed."

Repeating the Biblical image, the Zohar states that at the time of creation, there was only one continent, which later broke up into seven separate continents, which slowly drew apart.  At that point, water flowed into the gaps between them to form the various oceans and seas.
On the same subject, the Book of Proverbs (9: 1) offers an enlightening verse: "Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out her seven pillars."  According to Rashi, the "house" in this verse is the world, which God built with wisdom.

By juxtaposing Rashi's explanation with the Zohar's comments above, we can better understand the second half of the verse: "she has hewn out her seven pillars." These are the seven continents, hewn asunder from the single, initial continent.

Of course, for centuries, scientists dismissed these Torah statements about the drastic geological changes that took place on Earth as baseless fable.  It was only just over 90 years ago that the world of science began to revise its opinions on the formation of the continents.  The first scientist to talk about continental drift was the German geologist, Alfred Lothar Wegener (1880-1930) in his book: The Origin of Continents and Oceans, first published in 1915.  As proof for his theory, Wegener pointed out the amazing similarities between the western coastline of the African continent and the eastern coastline of South America. Together, they look like two separated pieces in a giant jigsaw puzzle.  Further research indicated that at the points of the two continents' previous contact, there were similarities in the flora and fauna and in the geochemical structure of their minerals. Ever since Wegener's discovery, there has been extensive further research into this subject and current opinion overwhelmingly supports the theory of continental drift.

Let us have another look at these events: With the exception of the Creator of the universe, how could anyone have known, thousands of years ago, that at one time, all the continents were comprised in one vast land mass, which subsequently split apart and separated? Furthermore, two thousand years ago, before Europeans had discovered North and South America and Australia, how would men of science have reacted to the Zohar's statement that there are seven continents on planet Earth?

I guess, once again, they didn't look at the Handbook of the Universe.
Have a good Shabbos


  1. Seven is an important number in Judaism so this could just be a coincidence. Secondly, The Torah account does not agree with modern science. According to modern science separate continents formed in the Ocean world before becoming one land mass and that land mass only lasted for one period of time in earth's history.

    1. There is no such thing as coincidence -- everything is by Hashem's plan and design. Yes, we have free will, otherwise the Earth wouldn't be so messed up as it is, but Hashem works His will around ours that the final results are always according to Hashem.

      Pangea is definitely encoded in the Torah. Whatever happened before, after or in between is in the Torah, otherwise it would not have happened that way. The entire history and blueprint of the universe and everything in it, is in the Torah, guaranteed.

  2. Where can I look up Zohar (12:1) ?

    1. If you Google Zohar, you will find copies in English. The Zohar is however one of the most difficult group of books to read and understand. Many years of study is needed to understand the simplest of meanings (and that is in Hebrew). In English it is even more allusive, since you are relying upon the translator's effort .

      Two websites that may help is:,d.d24


      Not all copies are numbered exactly the same. My English set of 5 books are numbered as 12a and 12b rather than the 12:1. The text that you are looking for is in the Prologue section.

  3. As I have read about continental drift in many science portals and blogs. Personally I felt it is very hard to prove the theory or show any evidences as the rate of separation is extremely slow i.e. 1 meter only in a span of 30 years.I have found some controversies and evidences that haven't any bases, some of the important points you can consider in some more facts about continental drift theory -

    1. Very interesting. I hope to review the site later, B"N. Just be aware that whatever Hashem wants is what happens. Scientists can speculate all they want, but Hashem's plan is what occurs.

      Even if the drift is only a meter every 30 years, which sounds rapid to me, the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, which means a movement of 150 million meters, or 150,000 kilometers was possible, or over 93 thousand miles (almost 4 times the circumference of the Earth). As I said: way too rapid.