Science, Adam HaRishon, & the Mishnah

A recent AP article links all of humanity to common anscestors:

"Whoever it was probably lived a few thousand years ago, somewhere in East Asia - Taiwan, Malaysia and Siberia all are likely locations. . . .

Yet this was the ancestor of every person now living on Earth - the last person in history whose family tree branches out to touch all 6.5 billion people on the planet today.
That means everybody on Earth descends from somebody who was around as recently as the reign of Tutankhamen, maybe even during the Golden Age of ancient Greece. There's even a chance that our last shared ancestor lived at the time of Christ.
'It's a mathematical certainty that that person existed,' said Steve Olson, whose 2002 book "Mapping Human History" traces the history of the species since its origins in Africa more than 100,000 years ago."

This provides a scientific asmachta (an Aramaic term used in the Talmud that means a supporting source rather than a proof text) for the biblical (and more importantly rabbinic) claim that we all have common anscestors.

Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 teaches: "[Only one person was created] for the sake of peace between human beings, so that a man should not say to another, 'My father is greater than your father . . . .' And also to proclaim the greatness of the Holy Praised One. If a human being stamps several coins with the same die, they all resemble one another. But the King of kings of kings, the Holy Praised One, stamps all humans with the die of the first man; and yet not one of them is identical with another. Therefore every individual is obligated to say, 'For my sake was the world created!'" (Translation adapted from R. Joseph Telushkin's Jewish Wisdom.)

The universal message of this Mishnah teaches us humility and the shared nature of all people. Now we know the "scientific truth" of the text. The world was created for all our sakes!

Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Bruce

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