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In the morning berachot of Shema, we call Hashem עוֹשֶׂה חֲדָשׁוֹת - Doer/Former of Novelties. What does this mean? What is it referring to? Possibly referring to the "הַמְחַדֵּשׁ בְּטוּבוֹ בְּכָל יוֹם תָּמִיד מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית" - "Who, in His goodness, constantly renews the act of Bereshit every day" found afterwards in the Sefardi version?

Another question if possible on this: If there is nothing new under the sun, then how can He do new things under the sun? I would have less of a question if it said Creator/בורא of Novelties) as that would fit with what the Ramban says, that when something is created from nothing, the hebrew word is בורא, whereas when something is formed from already-created stuff, that is עושה (interesting to note that the phrase is nothing new under the sun, but perhaps the sun itself - which is part of the theme of this beracha - can have חֲדָשׁוֹת?)

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    Hashem constantly needs to "create" the world; for if he were to stop creation would cease to exist.
    – Shababnik
    Jan 2 at 19:53
  • @Shababnik I feel that what you said is very tangibly along the right lines +1. The issue I am having is that then it would make sense to say "creates novelties", according to the Ramban, and if it doesn't say that, then why, or what else is it referring to?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 2 at 20:03
  • Kai. Perhaps according to the Rambam it's just a constant renewal as opposed to recreation
    – Shababnik
    Jan 2 at 20:10
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    Maybe the Abudarham on there is interesting?
    – Shmuel
    Jan 2 at 20:16
  • @Shababnik can the answer really be as simple as saying that He is recreating מַעֲשֵׂה_ בְרֵאשִׁית_, so it is a מַעֲשֵׂה that is being מְחַדֵּשׁ?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 2 at 20:17

3 Answers 3

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Rabbi Efrem Goldberg has a great, ongoing series on the siddur. Here (you need to scroll down the list) in Episode 233 - Pesukei D’Zimra – Birchos Shema: L'Kayl Baruch (Part 3) he says the following:

When you look around the world you see leaders in innovation, novelty and discovery, but the truth is that only Hashem is the true "oseh chadashos" - i.e. it is a reminder that Hashem is the real innovator. Everything we discover, is revealing something that was always there. So when humans come to a medical or technological breakthrough we are revealing something that was there all along. Only Hashem can create something that is "Yeish MeiAyin" - ex nihilo.

Mankind is sometimes misguided. For example, we cobble together some ingredients and make the most spectacular culinary masterpiece, and we think we have created a game-changing gastronomic delicacy, but when we stop to think about it, we need to realise that Hashem was the one who created those ingredients in the first place. We merely put them together.

Anything true and new comes from G-d. This is something that Shlomo Hamelech explains in Koheles 1:9:

וְאֵ֥ין כָּל־חָדָ֖שׁ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ

There is nothing new under the sun.

In a similar vein, Rav Schwab on Prayer p. 281 writes as follows:

עוֹשֶׂה חֲדָשׁוֹת - The malachim continue: He alone is the Maker of new inventions. Since the beginning of the world, man has continually developed his life with new inventions. Beginning with the very primitive Stone Age, graduating to the Bronze Age, and later to the Dark and Middle Ages, mankind has made constant innovations, which rendered the previous ones obsolete. Even the work of the great inventors of the recent past has been made obsolete in our modern computerized age. Who gave all these people the ideas and intelligence to make all these innovations? It is הוא לבדו, only Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

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  • Rabbi Golberg can't fail to hit a home run in any answer he is quoted in! Very good thank you. To frame in terms of my question: the Yesh MeAyin is one thing, and all the different forms/עושה that He invested it with are the "חֲדָשׁוֹת", and the reason it is in our prayer is because we are meant to remember that, especially when we are tempted to think that חֲדָשׁוֹת are ours?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 2 at 20:25
  • Correct - look at the Rav Schwab quote he says it better than I can...
    – Dov
    Jan 2 at 20:28
  • A fine explanation, thanks for reminding me to learn more from these 2
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 2 at 20:29
  • Pleasure! :-) (15 char)
    – Dov
    Jan 2 at 20:30
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In the commentary of Rabbi Moshe Cordevero תפלה למשה איש האלהים to the siddur, he explains that the phrase עוֹשֶׂה חֲדָשׁוֹת is referring specifically to the Sefirah of Chesed in seder histashelut as it is related to Malchut.

עושה חדשות: החסד שמשם היתה בנין העולם והוא עושה כל חדש ועל ידו חידוש הלבנה. וכו׳

That from the Sefirah of Chesed comes the structure of the entire universe and all renewal. He emphasizes that via this Sefirah is the renewal of the moon (Like the Lubavitcher Rebbe emphasizes in the discourse Bati l'Gani, that one instant before the birth of the new moon, it's light, meaning the visual perception of the moon in the world, disappears completely.)

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The other answers are unnecessarily complex.

The phrase means He is the "Creator of novelties".
Hashem created the world, and at the time of creation, the world was new.

(If you want, you could also say the phrase means that Hashem "Creates novelties," which applies even now because time does not apply to Him).

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