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This question only addresses the blueprint of the creation as described in the first chapter of Bereshit. It does not address the sequence of the actual creation, as described in Bereshit 2, or the empirical dependence of the plant life on photosynthesis as asked here.

Again, I ask about God's plan, God's idea of the Creation, not the implementation.

As I see it, on the end of the second day, the Earth is planned together with the upper and lower waters, divided by a firmament, and there's a notion of light. Now God says "what comes next logically? Aha, that would be the plant life, and only after that there will be planets, and after that, there will be animals".

In this blueprint, the plants are envisioned on the third day, before the planets, that are envisioned on the fourth, according to some Godly idea.

What is this idea (not implementation) of putting the plant life after the firmament and before the celestial bodies?

Does it mean the plants are more or less important? Do they correlate with certain Kabbalistic Sfiros? Is there any spirituality in them?

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The order of creation is in two parallel sets of three. (This is often attributed to the Maharal, but I think the idea doesn't emerge until the 20th cent, and then in a number of sources.)

On day one Hashem created light and separates light from darkness, creating the notion of day. On day four, the first day of the second set, He creates "lights in the raqia (?) of the heaven to divide the day from the night".

(Rishonim offer too many possible translations of raqia for me to pick sides.)

One day two -- separates the waters above the raqia from those below. And on the corresponding day in the second set, day 5, He populates them with fish and birds.

On the last day of the first triad (day 3), Hashem made land to stand on. And on the last day of the second triad (day 6) -- the animals and people who live on it.

This would imply that the sequence of creation only makes sense in metaphysical / spiritual terms, not in physical and causal ones.

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    Very interesting, thank you. IIRC, the Gemmorah says that Shabbos complained that between weekdays it has no pair, meaning that the others were somehow paired. This can relate. Any thoughts why two sets are needed?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 14:00
  • @AlBerko, I have a long thought about how a human lives in three worlds -- the earth, heaven, and the world between our ears. To put it another way, by being a composite of body and soul, out of that tension emerges a consciousness that must decide between them. Or, nefesh-ruach-neshamah. Notice the first triads revolve around heaven, the separation between heaven and earth, and then earth. So, this is metaphysics as humans can relate to it. But this thought is book-length, and I am not capable of making a full picture or compelling case in this little comment window. Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 2:13
  • @AlBerko, so, to take an idea that is in the Maharal (on Avos 1:2), a human lives in three worlds, and each world enables its set of relationships -- with heaven, with other people here on earth, and with our own souls. Two triads. (Three uncrowned utensils in the Mishkan [purifying spaces]: kiyor, menorah, mizbeiach nechoshes. The crowned ones [developing relationships]: shulchan, aron, mizbeiach hazahav.) Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 2:16
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The reason seems to be explained by Rambam in Yesodey Hatorah 3.9:

"All of the stars and spheres are beings, endowed with a soul, intelligence and understanding; they continue a purposeful life and are conscious of the existence of Him Who spoke and the universe sprang forth."

With this logic, plants were not created with soul, just as the earth, the waters, and the firmament, they lack psyche (see Aristotle's view). Therefore they can't move (intentionally), they can only grow. Therefore they are created after the basic elements of Earth and water that share this feature.

But the celestial bodies do move, and therefore they possess a (basic form of) Nefesh (psyche) that "drives" them. Of course, their movement is limited by their perfectness, so they only move steadily in circles.

And of course, then come animals that move intentionally and sporadically.

In other words, in the philosophical division of objects into דומם, צומח וחי (inanimate, plant, living), the planets fit into the third category, and therefore follow the plants in creation.

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