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Is the creation of time, gravity or other natural orders discussed in the Torah or rabbinic literature? I was thinking that bereishit could infer a beginning to time. Is this correct? If so are there other phenomenon that can be inferred from the Torah?

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  • Time was created right at the beginning.
    – shmosel
    Sep 19, 2023 at 16:28
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    Precisely how we know it was created!
    – Shababnik
    Sep 19, 2023 at 16:40
  • @Shababnik I don't think any one knows. All we can know is that God was some how involved with the creation.
    – Turk Hill
    Sep 19, 2023 at 16:57
  • Just thinking, doesn't this have to do with the three elements? Sefer Yetzira talks about them
    – Shmuel
    Sep 19, 2023 at 17:15
  • There is a gemara or midrash where some heretics mock the idea that Hashem created the universe, claiming "if He is eternal, why did He create it when He did, and not before?" and they are answered that Hashem created time itself, so there was no before.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Sep 19, 2023 at 17:24

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According to Rav Nachman, time was created immediately after the "tzimtzum" occured. Refer to Likutei Moharan, 64:4:

Know, too, that dispute is the aspect of Creation. For the world was created mainly by means of the Vacated Space, as explained above. This is because without it there would have been nothing but Ein Sof, with no place for the creation of the world, as explained above. He therefore contracted the Light to the sides, and the Vacated Space was made. Within it He created the entire creation—i.e., time and space—by means of the spoken word, as explained above: “By the word of God the heavens were made….”

This seems to align with the words of the Rambam, in his Moreh Nevuchim (Part 2, 30:2).

The Universe has not been created out of an element that preceded it in time, since time itself formed part of the Creation. For this reason Scripture employs the term “bereshit” (in a principle), in which the beth is a preposition denoting “in.” The true explanation of the first verse of Genesis is as follows: “In [creating] a principle G-d created the beings above and the things below.” This explanation is in accordance with the theory of the Creation.

So, according to the Rambam, time itself was included in the creation of the universe.

The Rambam mentions "time". He does cite some sources, I think in Chullin, but I am not sure where he got it from. He says:

We find that some of our Sages are reported to have held the opinion that time existed before the Creation. But this report is very doubtful, because the theory that time cannot be imagined with a beginning, has been taught by Aristotle, as I showed you, and is objectionable.

[...] I told you that the foundation of our faith is the belief that G-d created the Universe from nothing; that time did not exist previously, but was created: for it depends on the motion of the sphere, and the sphere has been created.

See also the commentary "Crescas" on this Moreh Nevuchim by Rabbi Asher ben Abraham Crescas where it also echoes the idea that time itself was part of the creation of the universe:

כי הזמן מכלל הנמצאות, ר"ל שהוא נברא בהבראות הגלגל שהוא מתנועע:

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  • What does it mean that time was created 'immediately' 'after' the tzimutzum 'occurred', when all three of those terms (in quotes) are themselves properties of time and therefore presuppose time already existing?
    – user9806
    Oct 19, 2023 at 23:37
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When it comes to natural order, one should not limit oneself to what the Sages said. The Talmud itself tells us this:

The Jewish Sages say [this about an astronomy matter] and the sages of the nations say [that]. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: And the statement of the sages of the nations appears to be more accurate than our statement. [Pesachim 94b]

The Midrash adds:

If someone says to you: ‘There is wisdom among the nations,’ believe it... [If:] ‘There is Torah among the nations,’ do not believe it. [Echah Rabbah 2:13]

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    There is an entire book with adaptations from teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on evolution, science etc... The Rebbe would say: Anyone who follows the developments in the secular scientific world in recent generations will notice that the conclusions of secular science are progressively converging to the conclusions of our Torah Igrot Kodesh, vol. 16, p. 26. Isn't the natural order also created by G-d!
    – Shmuel
    Sep 19, 2023 at 20:27
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    I don't think this is an answer.
    – N.T.
    Jan 21 at 6:23
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With regard to the creation of time you are correct in saying that "bereshit" is the creation of time.

The Mishna (Avos, 5;1) states ״בַּעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם״ - "With Ten utterances the world was created". The Gemara (Megillah 21b) explains that these utterances refer to the creations in the beginning of parshat bereshit that preface with the words ״ויאמר״. The Gemara asks that there are only nine time where Hashem prefaces a creation with the words ״ויאמר״ and not ten. The Gemara answers that ״בְּרֵאשִׁית״ נָמֵי מַאֲמָר הוּא, דִּכְתִיב: ״בִּדְבַר ה׳ שָׁמַיִם נַעֲשׂוּ וּבְרוּחַ פִּיו כׇּל צְבָאָם״ - "The word "Bereshit" is also an utterance (even though it's not prefaced with ״ויאמר״) as it states (Psalms, 33;6) “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth”".

By all nine creations mentioned there in parshat Bereshit it is clear as to what Hashem created, however the Gemara doesn't clarify as to what Hashem created with the word "Bereshit". The Seforno (Bereishit, 1;1) explains that utterance of Bereshit created the concept of time:

.״בראשית. בתחלת הזמן והוא רגע ראשון בלתי מתחלק שלא היה זמן קודם לו״

"Bereshit - at the beginning of time; this is the first moment which is indivisible into shorter periods. There had not been a concept “time” previous to this, i.e. there had only been unbroken continuity."

The Vilna Gaon expresses this as well in his Aderet Eliyahu (Bereshit, 1;1):

״בראשית ב' הוא ב' הזמניי. כמו ביום. מפני שהזמן עצמו נברא והב' מורה על עת הבריאה שהיה בחלק הראשון מהזמן הנברא ודע מה שבא מאמר ראשית ולא ראשון.״

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