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The Gemara in Bava Basra 74b famously speaks about both the לויתון (Leviathan) and the בְּהֵמוֹת (Behemoth), both of which were created with a female partner.

In both instances, the Gemara relates that Hashem cut short their lives lest they reproduce and destroy the world due to their immense size and power.

אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר רַב כֹּל מַה שֶּׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּעוֹלָמוֹ זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם אַף לִוְיָתָן נָחָשׁ בָּרִיחַ וְלִוְיָתָן נָחָשׁ עֲקַלָּתוֹן זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם וְאִלְמָלֵי נִזְקָקִין זֶה לָזֶה מַחְרִיבִין כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ מָה עָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא סֵירַס אֶת הַזָּכָר וְהָרַג הַנְּקֵבָה וּמְלָחָהּ לַצַּדִּיקִים לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְהָרַג אֶת הַתַּנִּין אֲשֶׁר בַּיָּם

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: Everything that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created in His world, He created male and female. Even leviathan the slant serpent and leviathan the tortuous serpent He created male and female. And if they would have coupled and produced offspring, they would have destroyed the entire world. What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do? He castrated the male and killed the female, and salted the female to preserve it for the banquet for the righteous in the future. As it is stated: “And He will slay the serpent that is in the sea” (Isaiah 27:1).

וְאַף בְּהֵמוֹת בְּהַרְרֵי אֶלֶף זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם וְאִלְמָלֵי נִזְקָקִין זֶה לָזֶה מַחֲרִיבִין כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ מָה עָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא סֵירַס הַזָּכָר וְצִינֵּן הַנְּקֵבָה וּשְׁמָרָהּ לַצַּדִּיקִים לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הִנֵּה נָא כֹחוֹ בְמׇתְנָיו זֶה זָכָר וְאוֹנוֹ בִּשְׁרִירֵי בִטְנוֹ זוֹ נְקֵבָה

And He created even the beasts on the thousand hills (see Psalms 50:10) male and female. And they were so enormous that if they would have coupled and produced offspring, they would have destroyed the entire world. What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do? He castrated the male and cooled the sexual desire of the female and preserved it for the righteous in the future. As it is stated about the beasts: “Lo now, his strength is in his loins” (Job 40:16); this is referring to the male. The continuation of the verse: “And his force is in the stays of his body”; this is the female, alluding to the idea that they did not use their genitals for the purpose of procreation. (Sefaria translation & notation)

We know Hashem is perfect and does not make mistakes:

הָאֵל֮ תָּמִ֢ים דַּ֫רְכּ֥וֹ אִמְרַֽת־יְהֹוָ֥ה צְרוּפָ֑ה

The way of G-d is perfect; the word of the LORD is pure (Tehillim 18:31)

And as Radak asserts there:

האל תמים דרכו הוא אלי שהיכלת בידו ומה שעושה עושה בתמימות וביושר, ומשלם לאיש כמעשהו והשיב לי כצדקתי ולאיבי כרשעתם

The way of G-d is perfect - He is my G-d who has the power in his hand, and what he does is done in perfection and uprightness/honesty, and He pays to man according to his actions, and He restores me according to my righteousness and to my enemies according to their evil.

I appreciate that the female levyason will be used in the future, and that we recite upon leaving the Succah "שנזכה לישב בסוכה של לויתן" (SA OC 667:1), and likewise with the Behemoth "וּשְׁמָרָהּ לַצַּדִּיקִים לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא" - "He kept it for the righteous in the future", but why make two at the beginning if Hashem knew that He would have to destroy this coupling?

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  • If Hashem did not create a power that is powerful enough to destroy the entire world then the world could not be said to be in balance relative to the creation of the world and there would be no true free will.
    – pcoz
    Sep 30 at 1:03
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The Maharsha says that they taste better when they’re in full strength including the ability to multiply, therefore they were created with that ability and then killed;

אף לויתן נחש בריח כו'. זכר ונקבה בראם כו' ר"ל אע"ג דלא נבראו לקיום המין כדמסיק אלמלא נזקקים כו' אפ"ה נבראו זכר ונקבה וכן ואף בהמות כו' ואפשר שניתן להם מתחלה כח ההולדה כפי טבע הבריאה כי כל הנולד מסורס הוא תש כח בטבע אבל המסורס אח"כ הוא טוב למאכל וע"כ הוא מזומן לסעודה לעתיד לבא וסירס את הזכר בלויתן אינו מפורש אבל ילמוד סתום דהיינו בלויתן מן המפורש דהיינו מן הבהמות ופירוש הנה נא כחו במתניו כי הבנים הנולדים לזכר הם כחו כמו כחי וראשית אוני גם נקראים יוצאי חלציו וע"כ אמר בו כחו נשאר במתניו ולא יצא לחוץ ורש"י באיוב פי' בע"א וז"ל כחו במתניו ביציו מעוכים ונסתרים כו' ע"ש:

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  • +1 - Thank you!
    – Dov
    Sep 30 at 5:33
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I had the same question as I was reading רש״י this week. I was excited to find your question.

I haven't had the opportunity to read up on many sources or answers, however it seems that there are several things at play here.

  1. Hashem creates not only for the practical purpose of this world, but for the purpose of the next world (רמח״ל מסילת ישרים). We see this also with the creation of light itself, which Hashem stored for the righteous in the future (רש״י בראשית א:ד ד״ה וירא אלקים את האור כי טוב ויבדל).

  2. Hashem created both the male and female Leviathan with the ultimate potential to destroy the world. Hashem took something with the Ultimate potential for Negativity and Destruction and used it for the purpose of the Ultimate Good. It's possible that we are meant to replicate that. (The מצוה of והלכת בדרכיו). Learning how to take the potential for bad and turn it into something Good and productive.

This doesn't answer every question or detail, but highlights some fundamental insights into the intent and purpose of Creation itself.

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  • 1
    +1 for the very nice direction. Welcome to Mi Yodeya!
    – Harel13
    Sep 30 at 20:24
  • 1
    +1 Some nice ideas! Welcome!
    – Dov
    Sep 30 at 23:43
  • 1
    Welcome to MiYodeya Avi and thanks for this first answer. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Oct 1 at 6:01

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