I have read in Tractate Sanhedrin: Chapter 4:

Therefore the man was created singly, to teach that he who destroys one soul of a human being, the Scripture considers him as if he should destroy a whole world, and him who saves one soul of Israel, the Scripture considers him as if he should save a whole world.

There are references to "the Scripture" considering him as if he should destroy or save a whole world.

Does anyone know which Scripture this is referring to?



2 Answers 2


The Mishnah you cited in your question cites a posuk (verse) in Genesis (4:10):

And He said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood cries to Me from the ground.

The Mishnah goes on to explain that based on the way the word "blood" is written, e.g. דְּמֵ֣י (Demei = plural of דָּם Dam, blood in singular form), this means that, so says the Mishnah, if a person, G-d forbid, kills someone, it is as if he kills entire mankind:

to teach you that with regard to anyone who destroys one soul from the Jewish people, i.e., kills one Jew, the verse ascribes him blame as if he destroyed an entire world, as Adam was one person, from whom the population of an entire world came forth.

The Bartenura, in his commentary on this Mishnah explains why:

לפיכך נברא יחידי – to show you that from one person the fulness of the world is settled [by humans].

  • 1
    My only question on this is, where in that specific pasuk does it imply man was made alone? I hear the "לפיכך" lead, but I couldn't follow it anywhere
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 27, 2022 at 13:25
  • Not in that posuk, no. But that's not the reason why the Mishnah is using it.
    – Shmuel
    Dec 27, 2022 at 13:43
  • I see, very good. So then my question is, what difference does it make that Adam was created "singly", and how do we jump from the idea of "killing one person is the same as killing all their unborn descendants" to "killing one person is equivalent to killing the whole of mankind"? Surely that latter point only applies if someone had killed Adam (or Chava)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 27, 2022 at 13:48
  • Maybe the principle can be applied what the Lubavitcher Rebbe often thaught, citing a Gemara (I don't recall the exact source), that we need to view ourselves as if the world was solely created for us.
    – Shmuel
    Dec 27, 2022 at 13:50
  • 1
    Note, the gemara you mentioned quoted by the Rebbe is on the very same daf as this. Tzarich iyun, I think your idea is right, would like to see it in detail to see how Chazal got there from "scripture".
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 27, 2022 at 14:01

Hi and welcome to Mi Yodeya.

It seems, there is no specific verse this is referring to, but rather the concept that Adam was created alone.

E.g. Genesis 1:27

וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ

And God created man (singular)

or 2:7

וַיִּ֩יצֶר֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֗ם

God formed the Human (singular)

Or 2:18

וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים לֹא־ט֛וֹב הֱי֥וֹת הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדּ֑וֹ

God said, "It is not good for the Human to be alone"

  • Rabbi, that Mishnah is referring to Bereishis 4:10 as far as I can see, though!
    – Shmuel
    Dec 26, 2022 at 16:19
  • @Shmuel I think our answers go well together. If you stick the sources I brought to finish off your idea, I'll happily delete my question
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 26, 2022 at 16:22
  • No need to delete your answer :)
    – Shmuel
    Dec 26, 2022 at 16:26
  • yes, I meant answer*
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 26, 2022 at 16:28

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