Jewish time begins with the creation of Adam who is seen as the physical and spiritual pinnacle in terms of the creation of the world.
As the Book of Genesis relates it, Adam was created on the sixth day in the process of creation, more than 5760 years ago. (The year 2000 in the Gregorian calendar, which begins count from the time of Jesus, is 5760 in the Hebrew calendar, which begins counting from the time of Adam)
Adam is unique among the other creatures, inhabiting the earth not just because he gives rise to such an amazingly innovative group of descendants, but because Adam is created b'tzelem Elohim, "in the image of God." This means he has a soul -- a neshama -- a higher, spiritual, intellectual essence. This Divine spark is the Godlike essence we human beings all have.
Once Adam is completed, God then, so to speak, takes off his cosmic watch, hands it to Adam and says, "Now we switch to earth time." A day becomes a revolution of the earth on its axis, a year is the earth going round the sun once, etc. According to Jewish chronology, God took off his watch more than 5760 years ago.
There is a profound lesson rooted in the idea of starting the Jewish calendar from the completion of Adam. Just as the movie director starts the cameras rolling when the big actors show up on the set (even though years of preparation may have gone into the project before the actual filming starts), so too does God start His Earth clock when Adam appears on the planet. The obvious lesson to be learned form this is that the focus of creation is man. God creates an entire universe for human beings. The ultimate question is then, why are we here?
If God is infinite, then he has no needs or wants. He lacks nothing and there is absolutely nothing we can do for Him. So why were we created?
One of the most fundamental ideas in Judaism is that God created us give us the ultimate gift: a relationship with Himself; transcendence, which is dvekus in Hebrew. Connecting to God is the...