Was Yehudah HaMaccabee A Fanatic

An Interview with Rav Shlomo Aviner

By Tzvi Fishman

With Hanukah approaching, The Jewish Press visited Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Shlomo Aviner at the Ateret Yerushalyim Yeshiva in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, located in the building which housed the famed Torat Haim Yeshiva until 1936, when Arab pogroms, and the British Mandate Authority, forced the Jews to abandon the once-thriving Jewish neighborhood, then known as the Western Wall Quarter. HaRav Aviner handed me a booklet filled with old photographs which pictured the history of the yeshiva, whose Beit Midrash looks exactly the same as its photo from 80 years ago. At the time of the expulsion, the Arab caretaker of the building locked the doors of the yeshiva, claiming the building was his, thus preventing rioters and plunderers from entering. During Israel’s War of Independence, Jordan captured the Old City. Then a miracle occurred. The Jordanians destroyed all of the 80 yeshivas and synagogues in what they renamed the Muslim Quarter. Only the Torat Chaim building and its study hall and holy tomes remained untouched - like the small flask of oil discovered by the Maccabees in the Beit HaMikdash with the seal of the Kohen HaGadol still intact. When Tzahal liberated the Old City in 1967, the caretaker handed over the key to the building, declaring that the holy place watched over him more than he watched over it.
While many former Jewish buildings in the neighborhood have been reclaimed and populated by young, idealistic Jewish families, the quarter is still overwhelmingly Muslim, with Arab shops lining the casbah which leads to the yeshiva, situated on Hagai Street between Shechem Gate and the Kotel Plaza. Memorial plaques along the narrow, cobblestone alleyway mark the sites where terrorists murdered Eliahu Amedi, Elchanan Aleli, Aharon Bennet, and Rabbi Nechemia Levi, HY”D.      
From the roof of the yeshiva building, it seems like you could reach out and lift off the golden dome from the Shrine of the Rock on the Temple Mount, which the Maccabees reclaimed from the occupying armies of the Greek-Syrian Empire. Visiting the yeshiva, you can feel the valor of its students, who dedicate themselves day and night to learning Torah in the midst of a hostile Arab neighborhood.
Very often, the Israeli media portrays the yeshiva’s students, and the Jews who live in the Muslim Quarter, as fanatics and messianic dreamers who incite the wrath of the Gentiles against us.
“At the time of the Maccabees’ war against the rule of Greece in the Land, that is how most of the Jews regarded Yehuda. At the beginning of the rebellion, only a handful followed him. In the battle against Lisius, he had mustered an army of ten thousand, but by the fourth encounter with the legions of Greece, only four-thousand men stood by him in the vital fight for religious freedom and national sovereignty. The vast majority of Jews were against him. They scoffed at the possibility that a tiny force of untrained and poorly armed farmers from Judea could overcome the mighty armies of Greece. They called Yehuda a fanatic and messianic dreamer, who endangered the security of the Nation, just like the epithets we hear today in the secular media regarding the settlers in East Jerusalem and Yesha. But the truth is the very opposite – Yehuda the Maccabee was a realist.”
A realist? In what way?
“He was as aware of the reality of the precarious situation just like everyone else. Even his own soldiers warned him of the seemingly insurmountable dangers, as the account in the “Sefer HaShmoniim” relates. But Yehuda’s more enlightened perspective encompassed generations. He reminded his troops that if Jewish history had followed the path of the pragmatists, Am Yisrael would never have left Egypt, David would never had killed Goliath, and the Jews would never have established their own Israelite Kingdom in a country inhabited by seven hostile nations. Yehuda reminded them that Hashem is the Chief of Staff of the armies of Israel, and that, if He wills, the Master of Wars can readily triumph over powerful enemies with a tiny number of Jews filled with Emunah. And he reminded his followers that trust in Hashem was not just some fairytale for children, but a down-to-earth reality in the life and history of the Jewish People. The same is true today. Hashem gave Jerusalem and all the Land of Israel to the Jews. Disbelievers and the nations of the world can say what they say, but the promise of Hashem is eternal. We are here to stay.
In the Gemara, the miracle of Hanukah is attributed to the flask of oil that lasted for eight days, while in the Shemona Esrei and Birchat HaMazone, the victory of the few against the many is emphasized. Which miracle is more significant?
“The Maharal, in his treatise on Hanukah, “Ner Mitzvah,” writes that the military victory was the primary miracle. In effect, the miracle of the Menorah wasn’t necessary. When there is no pure oil, it is permissible to light with impure oil. This is a law of the Temple concerning the public congregation, similar to the law which allows the Korban Pesach to be sacrificed, and even to build the Beit HaMikdash, when the majority of the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael are impure. Additionally, the lighting of the Menorah was halted by the Greeks many years previously. Waiting another few days until pure oil could be procured wouldn’t have caused a tragedy. Furthermore, every time the Menorah was lit in the past, a miracle occurred, since after all of the lights died out, the ‘western lamp’ continued to burn day and night. Thus, in effect, the Hanukah light which lasted eight days was just another miracle of the Menorah. Therefore, the Maharal explains, the miracle of the Menorah didn’t come for its own sake, but rather to teach that the victory over the Greeks was a miracle from Heaven as well. The miracle of the oil was the “Teudat HaKashrut” revealing to everyone that Hashem was the invisible Hand behind the military triumphs of the Maccabees.”
If victory in war is the main thing, why, in our time, did the Chief Rabbinate in Israel establish Yom HaAtzmaut and the recital of Hallel on the day the State was declared, when there was no miracle at all, and not on the anniversary of the day when the War of Independence ended, symbolizing the salvation of the Nation?
“HaRav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook was asked this very same question. He answered that the greater miracle indeed occurred with the declaration of Jewish Statehood, when we overcame all of doubts, hesitations, and fears of the Arabs and the nations of the world, when we stood up and boldly proclaimed the establishment of Medinat Yisrael. This awakening of Jewish valor in the eyes of all mankind, after nearly two-thousand years of Jewish impotence in the galut, was the foundation for all of the military miracles which followed after that in Israel’s wars.”
Why do we recite Hallel on Hanukah, and not on Purim?
“The Gemara (Megilla 14A) replies that we don’t recite Hallel over a miracle that occurred outside the Land of Israel.”
Why then do we recite Hallel on Pesach? 
“The Gemara explains that the miracles associated with Pesach occurred before we entered Eretz Yisrael. From that time forth, we don’t recite miracles of the Diaspora. In the Hallel, we say: ”Let the servants of Hashem praise Hashem,” while at the time of Purim we remained servants of Achasverus. The Jews were saved from mass slaughter, but the miracle didn’t include salvation from subjugation to freedom. We remained subjects of a foreign nation. This situation is unnatural to our essence, as the Psalmist says, ‘How can we sing Hashem’s song in a foreign land?’ (Tehillim 137). The Jewish People as a whole can only attain true national simcha in Eretz Yisrael, in our own Land, and not when we live in Gentiles countries, subjugated to Gentile cultures and Gentile laws. In contrast, our joy on Hanukah expresses our healthy, natural condition, which comes to expression, as the Maharal explains in the first chapter of ‘Nezach Yisrael’ citing three necessary conditions: when the Nation is physically together, when we enjoy our own Israeli sovereignty, and when the Nation dwells in Eretz Yisrael.”
In Israel, many people and yeshivot light their hanukias in aquarium-like containers outside by the doorways to their buildings, or at their gateways by the street, in the public domain as mentioned in the halacha. In the Diaspora where anti-Semitism is so prevalent today, should Jews do the same as an expression of Jewish pride, or is it better to light inside the house or yeshiva building.
“Everyone has to evaluate the options for themselves, but certainly, if there is a clear danger, it is proper to light inside.”
Does Hellenism still exist today?
“Definitely. There are many forms of Hellenism. For the ancient Greeks, Hellenism meant conforming to Greek culture, which glorified the body and fostered the free expression of individual lusts and pleasures. The term for this is Hedonism. This exists today in the cultures of Western society where movements of liberalism and pluralism abound. In ancient Greece, the indulging in pleasure was a way of serving the gods. Today, the quest for pleasure and surrendering to its temptations are the gods themselves.”
How can we fight against this cultural impurity and moral darkness?
“By adding holiness and light.”

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #387

Davening with Talit or in Minyan
Q: For someone who forgot his Talit at home, is it preferable to Daven in Shul without a Talit or at home with a Talit?
A: At Shul.

Short Cut through Yerushalayim
Q: If one is driving from one city to another, is it permissible to pass through Yerushalayim, or is it forbidden to take such a short cut just as it is forbidden to take a short cut through a Shul?
A: We do not find such a prohibition (And Ha-Rav Elchanan Printz, author of Shut Avnei Derech, wrote us: "There is no problem".  And an important Torah scholar wrote us: "How fortunate are we that one is so sensitive to the holiness of Yerushalayim").

Abba or Ha-Rav
Q: My father is a Rav.  Should I call him Abba or Ha-Rav?
A: Abba.

Torah Scholar and Tzadik
Q: What is the definition of a Torah scholar?
A: It depends on the generation and the location.
Q: What is the definition of a Tzadik?
A: One who fulfills all of the Halachot.  See Mesilat Yesharim Chapters 2-9.

Sefer Torah Written by Robot
Q: Is a Sefer Torah written by a robot considered Kosher?
A: No.  A man must write it, and with proper Kavanah.  This is unlike Matzah or Tzitzit, which also require being made with proper Kavanah, but do not need to be fully made by man (See here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAyelh_VXUA).

Blood Donation from One Who Eats Non-Kosher Food
Q: Is there a problem to receive blood from someone who eats non-kosher food?
A: No.  Blood is not food.  It is also permissible to have a transplant from a non-Kosher animal.
Q: Then why shouldn't a baby nurse from a woman who ate non-Kosher food (Rama and Gra, Yoreh 81:7)?
A: 1. It is a stricture.  2. It is food.

Expulsion from Gush Katif
Q: What was the basis of Ha-Rav supporting the expulsion from Gush Katif?  "Dina De-Malchuta Dina – the law of the land is the law"?
A: The general principle "The law of the land is the law" does not apply when it contradicts the Torah.  The expulsion was a severe prohibition.  This is what I, the lowly one, said then and still say now.  I wrote 20 articles in the weekly Parashah sheets and gave approximately 100 classes about it.  It seems you have mixed me up with someone else.  Be-Ezrat Hashem, we will return to Gush Katif.

Egg and Sugar
Q: What is the source for giving a woman an egg and sugar when she comes home after giving birth?
A: There is no source.  It is a superstition.

Who Takes Precedence – The One Entering or the One Leaving
Q: If two people meet at the door of a Shiva House, one entering and one leaving, who takes precedence in going through the door first?
A: The one entering, since he is going to perform a Mitzvah (And once Ha-Rav Meir Ha-Levi Soloveitchik, Rosh Yeshiva of Brisk in Yerushalayim, was leaving a Shiva house and saw women coming, and he let them go through the door first.  Everyone thought that it was for reasons of modesty, but he explained that since they were on their way to perform a Mitzvah, he did not want to delay them.  In the book "De-Chazitei Le-Rebbe" Meir Volume 1, p. 20).

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #386

One Cigarette a Day
Q: Is it true that smoking one cigarette a day is healthy?
A: No.  This is the evil inclination trying to seduce you.

Tooth Which Fell Out on Shabbat
Q: Is a tooth which fell out on Shabbat considered Muktzeh?
A: Yes.  But if it is in one's hand in a permissible fashion, i.e. it fell out into a person's mouth and he removed it with his hand, then it is permissible to place it wherever he wants, similar to a fruit peel (See Mishnah Berurah 506:29.  Orchot Shabbat Volume 2, p. 101).   

Tzahal Soldier, His Wife and Danger
Q: I am a married soldier.  They sent me to the Gaza border.  My wife said that she is totally against me entering into Gaza.  What should I do?
A: 1. We do not know the future, but at this juncture, if Tzahal enters Gaza, it will only be a minimal entry and the danger will not be greater than on any other front.  2. The Rambam writes that when a soldier enters a war, he should not fear, and he should not think about his wife and children (Hilchot Melachim, end of Chapter 7).  This is logical, since he starts to fear, he will not be able to do anything.  3. If your officer is willing to grant you an exemption, you are allowed not to enter.  4. According to the Halachah, if you do enter, you are permitted to hide this from your wife in order not to cause her distress, which is called lying for the sake of peace.  Be strong and courageous!

Cell Phone in Shul
Q: Is it permissible to enter a Shul with a cell phone?
A: Yes.  On condition that it is turned off and one does not use it there.

Yosef's Coffin during Plague of Blood
Q: Why didn't Yosef's coffin fill up with blood in the Nile during the plague of blood in Egypt?
A: This is a very good question, but one should first ask why it did not fill up with water all year long.  It seems that it was sealed tight.  Additionally, after the plague ended, the blood disappeared.  Therefore, even if blood did enter the coffin, after the plague ended it also disappeared.

Learning Arabic
Q: Is it permissible to learn Arabic?
A: Hebrew is our language.  It is permissible to learn another language for a job.

Talit for Bat Mitzvah
Q: I own a Judaica store.  Is it permissible for me to sell a Talit for a Bat Mitzvah?
A: Certainly not.  But you should avoid doing so with wisdom (Similarly, in Shut Shevet Ha-Kehati [5:5], it is written that it is forbidden to sell Tefillin to a woman).   

Signs of Redemption
Q: Do the Charedim agree that when Eretz Yisrael yields her fruit bountifully it is a sign that the Redemption is coming?
A: Certainly!  It is an explicit Gemara, Sanhedrin 98a, and we are not Karaites.  And a friend told me in the name of Ha-Rav Avraham Greniman Shlit"a that the Chazon Ish told his father, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Shemaryahu Greniman ztz"l, Rosh Kollel Chazon Ish, that the reason he made Aliyah (in the year 5693) was on account of Eretz Yisrael beginning to grow her fruit, as it says in the Prophet Yechezkel (36:8): "But you, O mountains of Israel, shall yield your produce and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for their return is near".  

Immersing in Desert
Q: Where did the women immerse during the forty years in the desert?
A: There were small lakes, large puddles and natural springs  

The Satmar Rebbe is Visiting Israel!

[A talk given in the Yeshiva during lunch]

Question: The Satmar Rebbe is arriving in Israel for a ten-day visit.  Is it obligatory to go and greet him?
Answer: A person is not obligated to greet every single Torah scholar, especially since – Baruch Hashem – there are so many Torah scholars today.  A person is only obligated to greet his Rabbi, i.e. "Rav Muvhak" - the Rabbi from whom he has gained the majority of his knowledge.  Additionally, even if a Rabbi is not his main teacher, but is the "Gadol Ha-Dor", he is considered one's "Rav Muvhak."  Therefore, if the Satmar Rebbe is one's "Rav Muvhak," he is obligated to go and greet him, but if he is not, one is not obligated, although it is certainly permissible.

Regarding the question if the Satmar Rebbe is the "Gadol Ha-Dor" there is a dispute.  Who is the "Gadol Ha-Dor"?  The answer for us is simple: the "Gadol Ha-Dor" is Maran Ha-Rav Kook.  In fact, he is not only the leader of this generation, but the leader of generations.  But it is possible that there is a dispute.  One person says that this rabbi is the "Gadol Ha-Dor," while another says that another rabbi is the "Gadol Ha-Dor."  Surely some thought that the Rambam was the "Gadol Ha-Dor" and others thought that Rabbenu Tam was the "Gadol Ha-Dor."  It is even possible that each is the leading rabbi in a different sense.  The Gerrer Rebbe said that there is no need to find out which holiday is most important.  On Pesach, Pesach is the most important.  On Shavuot, Shavuot.  On Sukkot, Sukkot.  Each holiday, when it falls is the most important one.  So too here, it is possible that there are different types of leading Rabbis of the generation.   Nonetheless, the students of the Satmar Rebbe consider him the "Gadol Ha-Dor," and others do not agree.  Thus, one is not obligated to greet him as the "Gadol Ha-Dor."

Question: It is forbidden to greet him?
Answer: Why would it be forbidden?   Some say that if Yitzchak Rabin was a "Rodef" (literally a "pursuer" – who one is permitted to kill in order to save the pursued) then the Satmar Rebbe is all the more so a "Rodef" on account of his virulent anti-Zionist views.  We reject this position, since according to all halachic opinions, Rabin was not a "Rodef" and thus neither is the Satmar Rebbe.  It is certainly not forbidden to greet him.

The question of a rabbi who ridicules and insults the State of Israel, others Rabbis, etc. is a very sensitive topic.  On the one hand, the transgression of a Torah scholar who shames other Torah scholars is very severe.  On the other hand, we need to give the Rabbi as much benefit of the doubt as possible.  For example, there was a "Gadol Ha-Dor" of the previous generation who shamed all of the other Rabbis.  Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin said about him: He is insane – he is not normal.  This was giving him the benefit of the doubt.  There are also Torah scholars who have extremely harsh styles of speaking.  They refer to everyone as apostates, heretics, etc.  Explaining that this is someone's style of speaking is also a type of giving the benefit of the doubt.  We are not saying that this is proper, but are trying to see others in the best possible light.

In any event, quite simply, it is extremely important to honor all Torah scholars.  One should not shame them, even if there is a harsh communal dispute.  The Gemara in Sanhedrin (99a) explains that one great Rabbi, Rabbi Hillel (not Hillel the Elder who was a contemporary of Shammai), said that the Messiah would not come.  This is certainly a severe statement.  Everyone is waiting for and anticipating the Messiah, yet in his opinion: "No – there is no Messiah."  Rav Yosef said to him: "May Hashem pardon his error" (as explained by Rashi).  We clearly see that despite the severe nature of Rabbi Hillel's comments, Rav Yosef did not shame him.  Based on this, there is a Teshuvah of the Radvaz (4:187) that even a great Rabbi who has expressed himself heretically should not be ridiculed even though one should argue with all forcefulness against his ideas.  Maran Ha-Rav Kook explained this law based on the Jerusalem Talmud, which compares disgracing a Torah scholar to a structure of stones: that is, if one stone is shaken, the entire structure is shaken (Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 10:1). Thus, one who scorns a Torah scholar knocks over the entire building of the Torah in Israel (see "Perek Tzibbur" by Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzhak Ha-Cohain Kook, Ma’amrei Ha-Re’eiyah 55).  Scorning Torah scholars is similar to sitting on a powder keg; we do not know when it will blow up and who will be injured.  Shaming Torah scholars cannot be controlled and we do not know where it will end.  If someone disgraces one Torah scholar, he disgraces them all.

We saw this with our own eyes: Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, the first Satmar Rebbe, made extremely harsh statements.   Our Rabbi, Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, never scorned or denigrated him even though their stances were diametrically opposed.  Our Rabbi once heard a severe ruling in the name of the Satmar Rebbe, and all he said was: "This is not correct."  Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah also admonished students who expressed a lack of respect towards the Satmar Rebbe, and would not allow them to continue to speak.  Once Ha-Gaon Rav Moshe Feinstein issued a ruling that in pressing situations it is permissible to be lenient in a regarding the height of a Mechitzah between men and women in a Shul.  The Satmar Rebbe came out against him. Our Rabbi said: "It is known that our paths are separate and different, but in this issue he (the Satmar Rebbe) is correct."  Even though they were polar opposites regarding the Redemption of Israel and Klal Yisrael, our Rabbi never said one negative word against him.

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #385

Resuscitation by Cohain
Q: If a person collapses next to a Cohain, is it permissible for him to perform resuscitation, or is there a fear that if the person dies the Cohain will become impure?
A: It is certainly permissible!  Pikuach Nefesh – saving a life! (See Yoma 23a, that when a Cohain was stabbed in the Beit Ha-Mikdash, they asked about the impurity of the knife instead of tending to the victim).

Drunk Person Paying Check
Q: I was eating in a restaurant and a drunk person came over and said that he wanted to pay my check.  Is it permissible to accept the money?
A: No.  He was not level-headed at that moment.

Drunkenness at Wedding
 Q: There are people today who get drunk at weddings.  What does the Torah say about this?
A: It is forbidden.  In general, it is forbidden to get drunk.

Medicine of Non-Jews
Q: The Chatam Sofer wrote in his Teshuvot (Yoreah Deah #175) that the medicine of non-Jews does not apply to the body of a Jew.  What is Ha-Rav's opinion on this?
A: This is an extremely novel ruling.  After all, the Rambam bases his medical writings on the medical knowledge of the non-Jews.  He does not distinguish between the body of a Jew and the body of a non-Jew.  There is certainly a difference between the body of a Jew and a non-Jew regarding eating forbidden foods, but not in the area of medicine.

High-Ranking Officer in Tzahal
Q: Should I aspire to be a high-ranking officer in Tzahal?  After all, a person should have a normal life of a Jew – being with his wife, educating his children, learning Torah, celebrating Shabbat and Yom Tov - and a high-ranking officer is in the army all the time.
A: It is a great Mitzvah.  It is self-sacrifice.

Sticker to Prevent Snoring
Q: Is it permissible on Shabbat to put a sticker on one's nose, similar to a band-aid, to prevent snoring at night?
A: Yes, it is temporary.

Carrying Torah
Q: I saw someone carry the Sefer Torah from the Aron Ha-Kodesh and he did not turn the Torah around.  Should we say something to him?
A: This is the custom of Belzer Chasidim who are particular not to turn the Torah around, since doing so is disrespectful to the Torah (Ma'asei Choshev pp. 300-301 and notes).  And there are those who say that the Chazon Ish also acted in this way.  Everyone should act in this case according to the custom of the community, but if one acts differently, it should not be pointed out.  And in general, if something is to be pointed out, the Rabbi of the community is the one who should do so.

Need for Tzahal
Q: Is it true that if Am Yisrael observes Torah and Mitzvot, there will be no need for Tzahal?
A: Not true.  But we will be more victorious.  See beginning of Parashat Be-Chukotai.

Taanit Dibur for An Hour
Q: Is there value in having a Taanit Dibur (refraining from speaking) for an hour each day?
A: It is a personal decision.  But it is preferable to recite Tehilim, repent and give Tzedakah.

A Brief History of the Universe

[Translation by Rabbi Barry Kornblau,
Chief Content Officer at Canfei Nesharim: Sustainable Living Inspired by Torah]

Adon Olam... The Ruler of the Universe who ruled before any creation was formed.”
More than 13.8 billion years ago, “In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth.”

Le-Et Naasah... At the time all was done, all was made according to His will.”  All was concentrated in one point, the Singularity, tiny beyond measure, compressed beyond measure [“Ein Sof”], in which were united all forces and particles.

After 10-43 seconds began the great explosion, the Big Bang, the Tohu Va-Vohu. At that point, the creation of time, space, matter begin, and the laws of physics – gravity, the strong force, the electromagnetic force, and the weak force – became distinguished.

From 10 seconds thereafter until 380,000 years later was the period of photons - “Let there be light”.

After 400 million years, stars began to form along with heavy elements, until [the atomic number of] iron, since until that time only hydrogen existed.  Then tremendous explosions of stars (known as supernovas) began, releasing 4,000,000,000 times the energy of the Sun, and atoms heavier than iron were created.  As since it is not good for an atom to be alone (cf. Bereshit 2:18), molecules were formed.

8 billion years ago, our galaxy, the Milky Way, was formed.

5 billion years ago, our Sun was formed.

4.6 billion years ago, Earth was formed.

About 3.8 billion years ago, large molecules of millions of atoms appeared, known as prokaryotes: a single cell, without a nucleus, with a membrane separating it from other material – such as bacteria.  They know how to replicate themselves, and thus are the foundation of biological life.

About 2 billion years ago, eukaryotes appeared.  They have a nucleus and organelles – a great revolution which later enabled them to split into different organs such as the heart, brain, liver, male and female, adult and young.

(Notably, it took 0.8 billion years for prokaryotes to appear, another 1.8 billion years until eukaryotes appeared, and another 2 billion years until the [large] creatures we recognize today appeared.  Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook writes: “Physical reality's slowness, nature's restrictions, its external sloth, the contraction of spiritual ascents, the transience of miracles: these are all supporting foundations of the unending ascent constituting the ultimate foundation of physical reality. The latter includes internal limitations which prevents reality's revelation from sinking until its lowest depth, as well a darker thought which promotes the eternal, unending ascent.” – Orot Ha-Kodesh 2.529; cf. 2.539, 2.547)

1.2 billion years ago, reproduction by male and female appeared.  Previously, a single cell duplicated itself, but this process requires two different cells.  The offspring has only 50% of each of its progenitors' traits but is nonetheless doubly enriched in traits, doubling its survival rate.  “They shall be male and female” (Bereshit 6:19)

900 million years ago, multi-celled organisms appeared – pre-sponge creatures.

(The pace is now faster.)

580 million years ago, a creature with nerves and muscles: jellyfish.
570 million years ago, creatures with six or eights limbs.
550 million years ago, flatworms with head and tail, front and back, and a controlling brain.
550 million years ago, the first species of fish.
475 million years ago, plants on land.
405 million years ago, freshwater fish.
400 million years ago, plants with seeds and insects.
315 million years ago, amphibians with lungs and gills, living in the sea and coming onto land.
255 million years ago, finally land creatures.
220 million years ago, mammalian ancestors.
150 million years ago, birds.
125 million years ago, placental animals which protect the fetus inside.
120 million years ago, flowers.
65 million years ago, a small mammal living in trees, ancestor of the primates.
40 million years ago, division of primates into different types.
25 million years ago, Proconsul africanus, a primate.
13 million years ago, a primate whose body structure approaching our own, including flexible elbows, a hard spinal base, and more.
10 million years ago, the appearance of hominids that branched off from gorillas.
7 million years ago, hominids separate from chimps [Maran Ha-Rav Kook: “Zohar (Parashat Vayikra, p. 10) states that there were many types of man before Adam mentioned in the Torah.” – Letters Vol. 1, page 108]
3.5 million years ago, Kenyanthropus Platyops.  [“And Adam became a living being” (Bereshit 2:7) - “At that point, Adam was only a living being, unspeaking until he was formed in [G-d's] Image and Likeness]”  – Commentary of Rabbenu Ovadiah Seforno, cited in The Torah of Rav Gedalyah Nadel, pp. 99-100]
2.5 million years ago, Homo Habilis.
1.8 million years ago, Homo Erectus which walks erect.
1.5 million years ago, Homo Georgicus which mastered fire.
700,000 years ago, the predecessor of Neanderthal Man and modern man.
350,000 years ago, Neanderthal Man himself.
160,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens, the predecessor of Adam. He knew how to bury the dead and to slaughter.
150,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
50,000 years ago, migration to eastern Asia.
40,000 years ago, migration to Australia and Europe; Cro-Magnon man.
10,000 years ago, the Neolithic Era.

6,000 years ago – Year 0: After a long process, man was elevated to the status of Adam the First and our mother, Chava.  They are the first with the Image of God, which expresses the permanent, holy [familial] relationship between them [Adam and Chava]. (Maran Ha-Rav Kook, Shemoneh Kevatzim 1.594)

Year 1056, Noach, the righteous man.
Year 1948, our father Avraham.
Year 2048, our father Yitzchak.
Year 2108, our father Yaakov.
Year 2368, our teacher Moshe.
Year 2448, the Exodus from Egypt.
Year 2488, the Conquest of the Land.
Year 2854, King David.

Year 2928, Building of the Temple.
Year 3338, Destruction of the Temple.
Year 3408, Renewal of the Temple.
Year 3828, Destruction of the Second Temple.
Year 5642, the First Aliyah [to Eretz Yisrael].
Year 5664, the Second Aliyah.
Year 5679, the Third Aliyah.
Year 5684, the Fourth Aliyah.
Year 5692, the Fifth Aliyah.
Year 5699, the Sixth Aliyah.
Year 5708, the Establishment of the State of Israel.
Year 5727, Return to Yerushalayim.

How great are Your works, Hashem!  (Tehilim 92:6)
If our mouths were as filled [with Your praise as water] fills the sea,
It would still not suffice to thank You.