At the very beginning of Bereishith/Genesis there is a phrasing of the creation of light which I find to be slightly confusing.

It's stated that God created light. The wording then seems to indicate that upon creating it he saw that the light was good.

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר׃

God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

וַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת־הָא֖וֹר כִּי־ט֑וֹב וַיַּבְדֵּ֣ל אֱלֹהִ֔ים בֵּ֥ין הָא֖וֹר וּבֵ֥ין הַחֹֽשֶׁךְ׃

God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.

The way I read this implies that when God was creating this aspect of existence, he did not know the nature of the created's relationship to the world until it had been brought into the world. The idea being is that he was creating each aspect of existence but only when he was "holding it in his hands" (so to speak) was he able to make a determination regarding its nature and relationship to the whole of existence.

First: "God created light.

Then: "God saw that light was good

Has this idea ever been touched upon by the sages or even contemporary Rabbis?

  • 1
    The Haamek Davar says that's when G-d established the nature of "seeing is believing."
    – shmosel
    Nov 21, 2023 at 9:21
  • FYI, this question format is controversial.
    – shmosel
    Nov 21, 2023 at 9:28
  • 1
    The Hebrew verb וירא also has a meaning implying to do or to act, (almost reflexively) like from Tehillim 76:9. This makes the meaning that G-d made the light to be כי-טוב. Because of the “bri’ach” כי-טוב is understood as a single concept. Try looking at the commentary of Ba’al HaTurim HaShalem there for details. Nov 21, 2023 at 11:54
  • Rashi states that Aggadah is required to explain this verse. See there.
    – ElonMusk
    Nov 21, 2023 at 14:45
  • It could imply that. Did God really say, “Let there be light”? Does God have vocal cords? Or, did it mean God willed the light into creation? I think the second idea is better.
    – Turk Hill
    Nov 21, 2023 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


Bereshit Rabbah 2:5

רַבִּי אַבָּהוּ אָמַר מִתְּחִלַּת בְּרִיָּתוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם צָפָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים וּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶן שֶׁל רְשָׁעִים, הֲדָא הוּא דִּכְתִיב (תהלים א, ו): כִּי יוֹדֵעַ ה' דֶּרֶךְ צַדִּיקִים וְדֶרֶךְ רְשָׁעִים תֹּאבֵד. וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ, אֵלּוּ מַעֲשֵׂיהֶן שֶׁל רְשָׁעִים, וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר, אֵלּוּ מַעֲשֵׂיהֶן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים, אֲבָל אֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ בְּאֵיזֶה מֵהֶם חָפֵץ, אִם בְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֵלּוּ אִם בְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֵלּוּ, כֵּיוָן דִּכְתִיב וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאוֹר כִּי טוֹב, הֱוֵי בְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים חָפֵץ, וְאֵינוֹ חָפֵץ בְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶן שֶׁל רְשָׁעִים.

. Rabbi Abahu said: Right from the beginning of the creation of the world, the Holy One blessed be He foresaw the actions of the righteous and the actions of the wicked. That is what is written: “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalms 1:6). “The earth was emptiness and disorder” – these are the actions of the wicked. “God said: Let there be light” – these are the actions of the righteous. But I do not know which He desires, whether it is the actions of these, or the actions of those. When it is written: “God saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis 1:4) – this shows that He desires the actions of the righteous, and does not desire the actions of the wicked.


It is worth noting the commentary of the yefat toar, who explains that G-d was undecided whether He preferred the service of the Tzaddik or Baal Teshuva.

On the other hand, Chassidus explains that this is referring to a level of G-d where our actions do not affect Him in any way, and technically, evil and good have the same effect. (See Iyov 35:6-7)

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