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The term "Histakel Be'Oraisa Uvara Alma" is often invoked when discussing chassidus or metaphysics. Literally translated, it means "[Hashem] gazed in[to] the Torah and created the world."

While the exact interpretation of this phrase has been debated, I'm currently interested in his etymology - when and where does this phrase first appear in Jewish literature? Is it unique to Judaism, a cognate from another culture or are there cognates that sprang from it?

  • Is there a reason you suspect it isn't native to Judaism? – mevaqesh Jan 6 '17 at 14:23
  • @mevaqesh None at all. I don't suspect anything - I'm just curious if anyone is aware of similar concepts in other cultures... – Isaac Kotlicky Jan 6 '17 at 14:58
  • Could you clarify specifically which point you are searching for a cross cultural presence of; the term, or the idea? If the latter, consider providing a summary of your understanding of the idea, so that we can search for equivalence. Otherwise, this is hard to answer since without an a priori understanding of the concept, any understanding of it would be legitimate, rendering the question ultimately opinion based. – mevaqesh Jan 6 '17 at 15:48
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    Partial answers appear here: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/55998/3 – WAF Jan 6 '17 at 18:55
  • @mevaqesh I'll provide a couple different examples of the concept. Part of the point of the question is to see if any precedents might clarify the meaning of the term, so pushing a specific interpretation would be counter productive. – Isaac Kotlicky Jan 8 '17 at 3:07
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The sources that I can find for this idea is as follows.

1 - Beginning of Medrash Raba - Breishis.

מביט בתורה ובורא את העולם

2 - Zohar Teruma 635

אסתכל בה באורייתא וברא עלמא

  • This is a promising start... :) Do we know when, historically, medrash raba was written down? – Isaac Kotlicky Jan 6 '17 at 14:03
  • According to Wikipedia Medrash Raba was written during the times of the Amoraim – Gershon Gold Jan 6 '17 at 14:14
  • Gross oversimplification. Having a specific set of midrashim called midrash rabba is the product if the medieval period. Until then, they were separate works composed at separate times. Numbers rabba, for example was redacted in the 12th century. The question is therefore about genesis rabba in particular. – mevaqesh Jan 6 '17 at 14:28
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The first thing that came to mind was the Midrash Tanchuma in the begining of Sefer Bereishis:

וכשברא הקב"ה את עולמו נתיעץ בתורה וברא את העולם

Hope this is insightful.

  • What did this answer add to the existing one? Genesis rabba is older than Tanhuma. – mevaqesh Jan 8 '17 at 0:08
  • Really? Where is that cited? – TrustMeI'mARabbi Jan 8 '17 at 2:11
  • That the Midrash Rabba is older than the Tanchuma – TrustMeI'mARabbi Jan 8 '17 at 4:06
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    As I mentioned in the comments to Gershon's answer, the Rabba series was not composed at the same time, with Number's Rabba being redacted only in the 12th century. Genesis Rabba, however, is Amoraic. Regarding Tanhuma, you can see this. Maharats Hajes writes this in his hagahot to Megillah 2b, as well. See also Wikipedia to Genesis Rabba and Tanhuma. – mevaqesh Jan 8 '17 at 6:08

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