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Did Adam Descend From Apes, Or Do Apes Descend From Adam?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » History » Early Years | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Society can be characterized as a “Culture of Followers”; precious few people are leaders in the true sense of the word. Most of our so-called leaders are individuals who have found an already-existing attractive cause which they have decided to champion. The leader’s persuasive qualities and proficient speaking skills cause others who also happen to agree with the same policies to appoint him or her as the spokesman for this cause—and thus a leader is born.

In fact, however, this leader is only spearheading a manifesto which was developed by another person, or persons, long ago. The moment this leader steps out of line by expressing an idea which his “followers” don’t approve, they won’t hesitate to ostracize him and seek another “leader”!

Leaders do exist, but they are far and few in between. Actually, the beginning of the 20th Century saw a great number of individuals who were true leaders. History has proven that the ideas which many of these leaders espoused were – well-intentioned, but – practically flawed, unsuccessful in the long run, and unfortunately brought untold misery to billions of people. However, the common factor between all leaders is that they attract a massive following.

The common factor between all leaders is that they attract a massive following... The masses are naturally followers
The masses are naturally followers, and they anxiously crave leadership; they yearn to be led by a person who has fresh ideas and initiatives, a person who speaks what he truly believes and isn’t concerned by approval ratings. This is especially true regarding the youth; historically, they have always been the first to embrace a genuine leader and his ideals.

The Mishnah states: “Adam was created alone [unlike the animals, which G-d created multitudes of every species] to teach us that every person is obligated to say ‘the world was created just for me!’” Adam was created without any peers because G-d didn’t want his behavior and his service of G-d to be based on another’s opinion of him; He didn’t want Adam to shape his personality based on societal norms or expectations—He wanted Adam to be a true leader. And, indeed, no sooner Eve was created than Adam made the critical error of following instead of leading. “If the fruit is good for Eve, then it must be fine for me too,” was the error which cast him and all his future descendents from the Garden of Eden.

As descendents of Adam, we were all created with the innate ability to be leaders. We are meant to have a positive effect on our colleagues and peers. This is especially true today, when unfortunately so many of our brothers and sisters are ignorant of their heritage, entirely unaware of the beauty of Torah. But true leadership doesn’t begin with wooing a following.

Leadership begins with a person who has tremendous integrity, a contagious passion for his convictions, and is completely unaffected by his neighbor’s opinion of him—be it positive or negative. Such a person will naturally draw a captivated audience.

Aping is for monkeys; we must strive to be human.


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Apes, humans and adam

Posted by: Avigdor Feldman on Mar 31, 2006

The rabbi didn't answer the question of the asker, why?

Editor's Comment

Despite its tongue in cheek title, this article is not about evolution. There are, however, several articles on this subject on our knowledgebase. See, for example, "What is the Torah's opinion on the Theory of Evolution?" (


Philosophy » Character

Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.
First written rendition of the Oral Law which G-d spoke to Moses. Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna in the 2nd century lest the Oral law be forgotten due to the hardships of the Jewish exiles.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.