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Do any Jewish texts talk about how the creation of the Universe came about?

  1. Did it all come out of nothing in a fraction of a second? or
  2. Was all matter condensed to one small point and then everything sort of grew out of it? or
  3. Were all the planets and stars created with the vast distances between them and then sort of put into the empty space as one big diorama?
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According to the Or HaKhayim, seemingly supported by the Seder HaYetzirah, all of the universe was first created only conceptually, with every possible and impossible concept being created. Then, every existing physical object was created as a manifestation of existing concepts, in a single uniform state. The process of creation described in the Torah was precisely how each physical concept was isolated from the rest of the abstract mish-mash and put into its proper niche. (Note: the “mish-mash” might be Tohw Vavöhw).

The Sefer HaYetzirah states that G-D created a thought, and that the thought ascended into a point, and G-D carved the details of the universe on that point, which then becomes the universe. If taken somewhat literally (which should not be done on a whim such as this, as the Sefer Yetzirah is a biblically-ancient Kabbalistic work), this would appear to reflect the beginning stages of the Big Bang: Nothing, then a dot of everything, then the quantum stuff inside the dot is somehow spread a little bit unevenly, then the space inside the dot expands evenly into the full-sized universe.

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There are 3 possible answers that can answer your questions about the process of creation in Jewish text.

1) The process of creation from a Torah point of view -

The first Jewish text to teach about the creation of the world is the Torah. The book of Genesis states that the process took 6 days. This account of creation raises some questions and difficulties. Why did it take an all-powerful God six days to create? Couldn't God have created the world instantaneously?[1] It also states that God rested on the seventh day. Does an all-powerful Deity tires?

Perhaps there is no real difficulty. Ancient Jews did not believe the first chapters of Genesis to be fact. Maimonides explains:

“We ought not to understand, nor take according to the letter, that which is written in the book of the creation, (the book of Genesis.)... The book of Genesis, taken according to the letter, especially with respect to the work of four days, gives the most absurd and the most extravagant ideas of the divinity."

Here Maimonides declares that the account of the Creation (in Genesis) is not a fact, that it is an allegory, and that to believe it to be a fact gives the most absurd and the most extravagant ideas of God. It shouldn’t be taken literally. It is only a parable.

The story contradicts what science teaches. The Torah narrative is not an explanation of the science of the creation of the world. If the book of Genesis is not a book of facts, what Jewish text can we rely upon to show us the scientific process of the creation of the world?

2) The process of creation from a mystical point of view -

The Zohar conceives of God as Eternal Nothingness (Ain Sof) from which emanates sefirot (Divine attributes) from which the world emanates. The Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria), a Kabbalist said that God contracted himself into a very tiny space to and expanded, beginning the process of creation[2]. Many have argued that this view of the Ari precedes the contemporary notion of big bang.

3) There was no process of creation, the world is eternal -

The reader will recall the quotation I have already made from Maimonides, where he says, “We ought not to understand nor to take according to the letter that which is written in the book of the Creation.”

Maimonides held the Aristotelian notion of the eternity of the universe. According to this view, the universe emanates from God. In the view that the universe is eternal, there is no process of creation.

[1] This is the view of Maimonides

[2] This is called the theory of contraction

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  • You have to source Maimonides’s words. You can’t just quote something like that without sources. Secondly, you’re giving his words without context. According to your quote, he says that we shouldn’t take the narrative of creation literally to the letter, meaning, not exactly as it seems in the simple meaning in every detail. That is logical. He does not say that none of Genesis should be taken as fact, as you seem to deduce. Jul 20, 2023 at 13:33
  • @QwertyCTRL. I do not remember the source. But the idea is certainly there. Rambam understood the Genesis story as a parable.
    – Turk Hill
    Jul 28, 2023 at 20:11
  • @QwertyCTRL. In another place where he brings this quote from Maimonides, @TurkHill says about it "I found this on a website a long time ago". @Deuteronomy there shows that it's from a letter of Thomas Paine quoting Maimonides.
    – Tamir Evan
    Feb 16 at 13:22
  • @TurkHill Again, if you can’t bring the source and prove that your interpretation is correct, you have no claim whatsoever. @ Tamir Evan Thanks for the info. Feb 23 at 14:08

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