The Secret of the Creation Circles

Parsha and its Implementation - Bereshit - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - 5780

The creation of the world in Parashat Bereshit is fundamental to understand the format of the world, its laws of existence and the way it is conducted. This feature exists on all levels; In the cosmic and human level, since "man is a small world and the world is a great man," "He created in man everything he created in His world" (Avot D'Rabbi Natan 31).

In creation there are two elements: the constant and the changing element, the creation and the renewal. On the one hand, the basis of Creation’s unchanging laws of nature is the foundation of the world and its stability depends on it. And the ever-changing element of creation and innovation that allows the world to move forward and evolve.

These two elements are essential to the existence of the world, the constant element of creation giving it the solid foundation for its very existence. Changes in the laws of creation can undermine the world stability. And the element of renewal gives it the dynamism and process that allows it to progress, develop and fulfill its destiny. Without it, the world will set and never advance. The Almighty set a clear boundary between the elements so that the forces of change would not enter the realm of creation laws and damage the existence foundation, and on the other hand, the stable forces will not enter into the realm of renewal and determine it.

We mention the element of creation in the Kiddush Levanah*:

אֲשֶׁר בְּמַאֲמָרוֹ בָּרָא שְׁחָקִים, וּבְרוּחַ פִּיו כָּל צְבָאָם חֹק וּזְמַן נָתַן לָהֶם שֶׁלֹּא יְשַׁנּוּ אֶת תַּפְקִידָם שָֹשִֹים וּשְֹמֵחִים לַעֲשֹוֹת רְצוֹן קוֹנָם פּוֹעֵל אֱמֶת, שֶׁפְּעֻלָּתוֹ אֱמֶת

“Who by His word created the heavens, and by the breath of his mouth all their hosts. He set for them a law and a time, that they should not deviate from their task. And they are joyous and glad to perform the will of their Owner; they are workers of truth whose work is truth.” (Talmud Sanhedrin 42a) and Rashi: "Workers of truth – those that do not change their order". But there we also mention the opposite element - the changing element, in relation to the moon:

וללבנה אמר שתתחדש עטרת תפארת לעמוסי בטן שהן עתידין להתחדש כמותה

" And to the moon He said that it should renew itself as a crown of beauty for those He carried from the womb, as they are destined to be renewed like it” (ibid). And in Rashi: "And to the moon He said- renew every month."

Both elements are also mentioned in Tfilat Shachrit. The basic element of creation: יוצֵר אור וּבורֵא חשֶׁך

“who forms light and creates darkness”, and the changing element:

וּבְטוּבו מְחַדֵּשׁ בְּכָל יום תָּמִיד מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית

"In His goodness, G-d daily renews the work of Creation". "And although there is no noticeable novelty…Not every day is similar to the one before and the one after." (Nefesh Hachaim)

The Kabbalah sages pointed to the duality that exist between the Creation’s two dimensions; The 'Yosher' (the three-column "upright" diagram, related to the "line" beamed into the Khalal), and the 'Igulim' (concentric "circles" within the "circular" Khalal). One of these dualities is that ‘Igulim’ also contains the fixed element of reality: "The necessary laws. The rigid iron laws, which do not change." (Orot HaKodesh 3). On the other hand, "Yosher" includes the changing and renewed electoral element: "Freedom of life, absolute freedom, etc." (ibid.).

It is explained in Hasidism, that the human soul has "Igulim" and "Yosher" within. The basic naturalness and order of life, the free choice, the renewal and change.

The Torah commandments are also analogous to a human: "In these 613 commandments, רמ"ח אברים ושס"ה גידים

248 limbs (evarim), the numerical equivalent of the word ramach. In addition to ramach limbs, we have 365 sinews and ligaments (giddim), the numerical value of shesah. (Yeshayahu ben Avraham Horowitz also known as the Shelah HaKaddosh).

The 365 שס"הnegative precepts, preserve the spiritual life, and harming it, weakens its mere existence.

248 רמ"ח are positive precepts, these are the ‘evarim’ organs, through which we act, move forward, renew and change.

The set element and the changing element, the Creation and the renewal exist in the Torah in another perspective. Most of the Torah and its foundations are eternal, permanent and unchanging, but its application in the ever-changing life are constantly being renewed:

דברי חכמים כדרבונות וכמסמרות נטועים בעלי אסופות נתנו מרועה אחד למה נמשלו דברי תורה לדרבן לומר לך מה דרבן זה מכוין את הפרה לתלמיה להוציא חיים לעולם אף דברי תורה מכוונין את לומדיהן מדרכי מיתה לדרכי חיים אי מה דרבן זה מטלטל אף דברי תורה מטלטלין ת"ל מסמרות אי מה מסמר זה חסר ולא יתר אף דברי תורה חסירין ולא יתירין ת"ל נטועים מה נטיעה זו פרה ורבה אף דברי תורה פרין ורבין" (חגיגה ג ב).

“The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails well fastened are those that are composed in collections; they are given from one shepherd” (Kohelet 12:11). Why are matters of Torah compared to a goad? To tell you that just as this goad directs the cow to her furrow to bring forth sustenance for life to the world, so too the words of Torah direct those who study them from the paths of death to the paths of life. The Gemara asks: If so, derive the following from that same analogy: Just as this goad is movable and not rigid, so too matters of Torah are movable in accordance with circumstance and are not permanent. Therefore, the verse states: “Nails,” which are permanent. The Gemara further asks: If so, one can explain as follows: Just as this nail is diminished in size and does not expand, as it wastes away over time, so too matters of Torah are gradually diminished and do not expand. Therefore, the verse states: “Well fastened [netuim].” Just as this plant [neti’a] flourishes and multiplies, so too matters of Torah flourish and multiply". (Chaggigah 3b).

In the Torah as in the world, one must know the clear boundaries between the fixed 'nails': their stability must not be discussed as this could weaken the existence of the Torah, and the 'well fastened': which must deal with the renewed reality, otherwise it will be perceived as irrelevant.

It seems important to mention it these days. There are some who deal with Halakhah that, with the enthusiasm and desire for openness and renewal, hurt and damage the "nails". On the other hand, some are so concerned about the renewal and damaging the 'nails', that they prevent any possibility of coping with the changing situations and the growth of the 'netuim'.

* Kiddush Levanah: Sanctification of the Moon- In Kabbalistic tradition, the new moon is sanctified seven days after its appearance, under a clear sky, standing facing east. It may be said as early as three days after the new moon, and as late as a day before the full moon (the moon should still be visibly waxing).

Parshat Bereshit – Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald

The Torah opens with the story of the creation, which is completely original, "substance out of nothingness." "In the beginning, G-d created the heaven and the earth." (Bereshis 1:1) "Because there is a great need to open the Torah with 'In the beginning G-d created' because it is the root of faith. And anyone who does not believe this and thinks that the world has existed forever is a heretic and has no Torah whatsoever. (Ramban)

Nevertheless the Torah's description of Divine creation isn't comprehensible in the simple, literal way. It is on the high levels of Divine reality, which limited human understanding cannot grasp.  "Since My thoughts are not your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8)

"The work of the creation" is one of the "secrets of the Torah" and we do not delve into it the same way we do with the rest of the Torah. And it is not learned, except one-on-one (a teacher and a student) and only if the student is wise and astute (Talmud Hagigah 82 a). "The work of the creation is a deep secret and cannot be understood from the written Torah, and is not fully known except through the Kabbalah (literally, received tradition) through Moshe Rabbenu, (which he received) from G-d. And those who know it must conceal it. (Ramban) Why did the Torah choose to describe the acts of the creation if only individuals (on a high level) can understand them? (Ramban)

The Torah describes the creation as a stage-by-stage process, planned down to the last detail.  The opening with the word "Bereshis" – in the beginning – shows that there is a progressive timeline (like a Gantt chart) which has a beginning, an end, and middle. The Sages likened the creation to the construction of a fabulous palace according to a detailed, premeditated plan: "In normal practice, a flesh-and-blood king who builds a palace doesn't plan it (only) by himself, but by employing the expertise of an architect. And the architect doesn't build without consulting his books and notes in order to know how to make rooms and how to make gates. Similarly, G-d looks into the Torah and creates the world." (Bereshis Rabbah 1:1)

The story of the creation tells us that G-d created the world according to a wise plan which was defined ahead of time, and He carried out every step precisely. "The creation turned the thought into reality and brought it out – and thus gave thought an external, tangible existence. The whole world, in its entirety and its details, is none other than G-d's thoughts which materialized." (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch)

It wouldn't reduce the level of holiness of this insight if we call the Divine way of creating the world "the strategic plan of creation." This plan is deep in the Torah.

The Kabbalists emphasized that the plan of the creation is a Divine, independent initiative which encompasses the purpose of the existence of the world, the root of all the course of history, and G-d's direction until creation reaches its final goal. "The completion of action is (the result of) thought at the beginning." "And for this…the root must be in lights, which must be prepared in this way so this will emerge from them… And everything is such, in the secret (order) of beginning and end. And so it is written, "Tells the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10). And this is the secret of the way (of the world) which goes from the beginning…to the end. And the issue is that the beginning of thought is the completion of action." (Ramchal, Adir BaMarom part 1)

But is appears that the metaphor of the palace doesn't fit! A human king who builds a palace indeed needs a plan and instructions beforehand, but G-d, who is the source of wisdom, He Himself creates the plan. So why does He need a plan in advance? He could, apparently, create the world at the same time as proclaiming the plan?!

The Ramchal (Da'at Tevunot) emphasizes that without a doubt G-d could have created the world according to His infinite character, but for a number of reasons (of which He revealed to us only some of them) He chose to create it according to the world's limited qualities, and in a way that man can learn from the ways of G-d.

"The man of faith" strives to translate this "revelation" in order to "cleave to Him" and to "walk in His ways." Man who was created "in the image of G-d" continues the work of Divine creation with his human action. This way he becomes "a partner to G-d in the work of creation", in thought and in action. (Shabbat 119 b and Maharsha)

The human work which continues the Divine creation must be conducted in a way which is strategically planned and managed, in a way that looks toward the future. Man initiates it in light of an overall purpose, from which originate the plans and execution down to the last detail. When necessary the plans must be encompassing and long-range, in the spirit of "the completion of action is (the result of) thought at the beginning." In this way man will merit wholesome and blessed work, and also to cleave to His ways, blessed be He.

Parshat Bereshis – Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald

The Torah opens with the story of the creation, which is completely original, "substance out of nothingness." "In the beginning, G-d created the heaven and the earth." (Bereshis 1:1) "Because there is a great need to open the Torah with 'In the beginning G-d created' because it is the root of faith. And anyone who does not believe this and thinks that the world has existed forever is a heretic and has no Torah whatsoever. (Ramban)
Nevertheless the Torah's description of Divine creation isn't comprehensible in the simple, literal way. It is on the high levels of Divine reality, which limited human understanding cannot grasp. "Since My thoughts are not your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8)
"The work of the creation" is one of the "secrets of the Torah" and we do not delve into it the same way we do with the rest of the Torah. And it is not learned, except one-on-one (a teacher and a student) and only if the student is wise and astute (Talmud Hagigah 82 a). "The work of the creation is a deep secret and cannot be understood from the written Torah, and is not fully known except through the Kabbalah (literally, received tradition) through Moshe Rabbenu, (which he received) from G-d. And those who know it must conceal it. (Ramban) Why did the Torah choose to describe the acts of the creation if only individuals (on a high level) can understand them? (Ramban)
The Torah describes the creation as a stage-by-stage process, planned down to the last detail. The opening with the word "Bereshis" – in the beginning – shows that there is a progressive timeline (like a Gantt chart) which has a beginning, an end, and middle. The Sages likened the creation to the construction of a fabulous palace according to a detailed, premeditated plan: "In normal practice, a flesh-and-blood king who builds a palace doesn't plan it (only) by himself, but by employing the expertise of an architect. And the architect doesn't build without consulting his books and notes in order to know how to make rooms and how to make gates. Similarly, G-d looks into the Torah and creates the world." (Bereshis Rabbah 1:1)
The story of the creation tells us that G-d created the world according to a wise plan which was defined ahead of time, and He carried out every step precisely. "The creation turned the thought into reality and brought it out – and thus gave thought an external, tangible existence. The whole world, in its entirety and its details, is none other than G-d's thoughts which materialized." (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch)
It wouldn't reduce the level of holiness of this insight if we call the Divine way of creating the world "the strategic plan of creation." This plan is deep in the Torah.
The Kabbalists emphasized that the plan of the creation is a Divine, independent initiative which encompasses the purpose of the existence of the world, the root of all the course of history, and G-d's direction until creation reaches its final goal. "The completion of action is (the result of) thought at the beginning." "And for this…the root must be in lights, which must be prepared in this way so this will emerge from them… And everything is such, in the secret (order) of beginning and end. And so it is written, "Tells the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10). And this is the secret of the way (of the world) which goes from the beginning…to the end. And the issue is that the beginning of thought is the completion of action." (Ramchal, Adir BaMarom part 1)
But is appears that the metaphor of the palace doesn't fit! A human king who builds a palace indeed needs a plan and instructions beforehand, but G-d, who is the source of wisdom, He Himself creates the plan. So why does He need a plan in advance? He could, apparently, create the world at the same time as proclaiming the plan?!
The Ramchal (Da'at Tevunot) emphasizes that without a doubt G-d could have created the world according to His infinite character, but for a number of reasons (of which He revealed to us only some of them) He chose to create it according to the world's limited qualities, and in a way that man can learn from the ways of G-d.
"The man of faith" strives to translate this "revelation" in order to "cleave to Him" and to "walk in His ways." Man who was created "in the image of G-d" continues the work of Divine creation with his human action. This way he becomes "a partner to G-d in the work of creation", in thought and in action. (Shabbat 119 b and Maharsha)
The human work which continues the Divine creation must be conducted in a way which is strategically planned and managed, in a way that looks toward the future. Man initiates it in light of an overall purpose, from which originate the plans and execution down to the last detail. When necessary the plans must be encompassing and long-range, in the spirit of "the completion of action is (the result of) thought at the beginning." In this way man will merit wholesome and blessed work, and also to cleave to His ways, blessed be He.

Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account