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I’ve a question,

G-d created the heavens and the earth, but in order to do so did He used an 'agent’ i.e. a tool or instrument of some kind, a way or manner in which others were involved?

The spirit of G-d hovering above the face of the waters is explained as the spirit of Moshiach. The plural in Genesis 1:26 and 3:22 is explained by G-d consulting His heavenly court. And even the word Bereshit is often explained as that G-d created with His Torah (looked into it while creating; He used it as a blueprint). G-d even seems to sent forth His voice, so to speak, by which all came into existence.

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    We don't lecture maaseh marcava in public
    – TwoOs
    Jul 7 '20 at 14:35
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    Well at first he tried Home Depot but customer service there was terrible so he did it all himself.
    – mroll
    Jul 7 '20 at 22:47
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I do not wish to negate the question but we can not know the answer to that. All the descriptions in the Torah of Hashem is just a metaphoric description. We do not know His way and never will.

A 2 dimensional person can not understand a 3 dimensional world and it is said that a blind man can't really understand what a color is. Our brains are limited and when an timeless and limitless entity "does something" all we can do is try to match it up to our limited understanding but that does not do justice.

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  • I totally agree, still the commentators seem to state that G-d looked into the Torah, and also that ‘let us make’ etc refers to the heavenly court which G-d consulted. Still wondering how we could make such statements, when we simply do not know what did or didn’t occur before or at the time G-d started His creation of the heavens and earth.
    – Levi
    Jul 9 '20 at 6:10
  • @Levi Don't think that "G-d looked into the Torah" means that G-d looked into what we view as the Torah. Our Torah is simply the physical manifestation of G-d's Will.
    – Yehuda
    Jul 9 '20 at 15:47
  • @Yehuda I get that, I just wanted to point out that the commentators describe these things in such a way that we could relate to them..
    – Levi
    Jul 9 '20 at 18:15
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    @Yehuda I think everyone can imagine an Architect building something according to a blueprint which came from his thoughts, imagination and wil (i.e. his mind). Maybe even with the help of others, with the material that he had at hands etc. I just wondered if the same image could apply to G-d in some way, if it could be possible he used an ‘agent/workmen/equipment/tools/materials’ so to speak in the process.
    – Levi
    Jul 9 '20 at 18:19
  • The principles of צמצום and the אור אין סוף fundamentally disagree with that view.
    – Yehuda
    Jul 9 '20 at 18:22
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According to the Seifer haYetzhirah, creation is made of words. And in Hebrew too, the word for speech when we are focusing on ideas is "דבר - dibbur", the same root as the word for "thing" -- "דבר - davar".

The Baal Shem Tov says that the first chapter of Bereishis uses the metaphor of Hashem speaking for a reason. One writes the written word, and then it continues to exist on the page. A spoken word exists as long as it is being spoken. If there is still light, it is because Hashem is still saying (as it were) "Yehi Or - Let there be light!". In fact, dibbur of "Yehi Or" is the davar we perceive as light.

Flipping to what most people think of as the far side of Jewish Thought from the Baal Shem Tov....

In the Rambam's model (Yesodei haTorah ch. 2) Hashem had a Thought, which had a thought, etc... A chain of intellects that runs down the various classes of angel through the spheres, and eventually down to us. Stating that idea in the words I established above, Hashem's dibbur is a medabeir ("speaker") which therefore itself has a dibbur… And so on down to the physical devarim (things) of this world.

In Qabbalah's model, the Or Ein Sof (the Light of the Infinite One / the Infinite Light) "descends" from world to world, getting implemented in ever more coarse forms.

I feel a need to buttress the presumption that we can use the Seifer haYetzirah, which reads like a mystical text but had rationalist interpreters like Rav Saadia Gaon, the Baale Shem Tov and the Rambam as description of the same ideas in different terminologies. Since, as I noted, people think of them as opposite sides of the Mystic - Rationalist spectrum. However, the Leshem (Rav Shelomo Elyashiv, 1841-1926, not to be confused with his grandson R' Yosef Shalom), in his Kelalim, argues that the similarities are there because these are indeed two different models of same Truth. And he manages to write a work of the Vilna Gaon's school of Qabbalah that regularly buttresses its points with citations from the Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim, Hilkhos Yesodei haTorah, and other writings.

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The verses in Bereishis show Hashem said. This means that it was a direct command by Hashem to cause the creation. That means that the original creation was accomplished by Hashem Himself and not via agents. Once the Shabbos was complete, the universe continued according to the laws that were created during the days of creation.

As an example, Rah Hirsch excplains the word ברא as meaning

So that ברא means bringing something into reality which hitherto had only existed inwardly, in the mind. It is creating something purely out of ones mind and will and out of nothing else. It is the real יש מאין, and is accordingly only used for creation by Hashem.

Similarly, each day of creation shows that it was accomplished by וידבר by a specific command, not by a command to an agent.

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  • It’s יש מאין, not יש מעין. And thought is also one of the ‘creations’. The אין (pronounced ayin) being referred to is the Holy One, blessed be He who transcends everything. If Rabbi Hirsch wrote what you are saying, which is questionable, it is an indication that he either was unfamiliar with the subject and speculating or was misinformed of traditional teaching on this subject. Jul 8 '20 at 23:39
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    @YaacovDeane Thanks for spotting the typo. The usual translation of אין is nothing so it is something from nothing. Jul 9 '20 at 20:45
  • You’re welcome & I hope you and your family are all safe and well. Yes, the rough English translation is that creation means ‘something from nothing’ or in Latin, Ex Nihilo. But any translation loses a great deal from what is understood from the Hebrew original. Jul 10 '20 at 2:26
  • The difference between your answer and mine is that you're saying the speech "was a direct command by Hashem to cause the creation", and I am saying that it was itself the act of creating. Jul 10 '20 at 15:11
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  • Answering briefly now. G-d did not look into the Torah to create the world, this is a metaphor (Rambam, ibn Ezra, Ralbag).

  • G-d may have used pre-existing matter to form the world (Ralbag, Aristotle, Rambam).

  • If G-d counseled with the heavenly court, these are the natural forces, which means G-d created through nature.

  • The spirit of G-d hovering over the face of the water is not G-d's spirit or Moshiach. The correct translation of ruach elohim “the spirit of G-d,” is a "'strong wind."

  • Rambam explains that whenever the Bible says G-d said something it means that G-d “thought” or “willed.” G-d has no vocal cords. G-d did not speak during the acts of creation in Genesis 1. G-d “willed” creation.

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  • I believe Rambam rejects Aristotle's view of preexisting matter
    – robev
    Jul 9 '20 at 16:39
  • @robev Yes, he does write that he rejects Aristotle's view. However, some scholars feel that this was a contradiction of the 7th kind. I suppose its preference.
    – Turk Hill
    Jul 9 '20 at 16:49
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    Of the 7th kind? I'm not sure what you mean. Either way, you can't make an unqualified statement that contradicts something the Rambam explicitly writes.
    – robev
    Jul 9 '20 at 18:40
  • @robev According to some scholars, Rambam's rejection of Aristotle's view might have been a necessary belief, but this view is disputed among scholars.
    – Turk Hill
    Jul 9 '20 at 21:37

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