The two creations

The Torah identifies two types of creation which lead us to beief in the Creator.

Rabbi Dr. Chaim E. Schertz,

Rabbi Schertz
Rabbi Schertz
INN: J. Fogel

There are two creations which are described in the Torah:  the creation of Adam or man; and the creation of the people of Israel.  Indeed, the whole purpose for the Torah itself is to identify these two types of creation and it is through understanding the import of each one that we are led to our ultimate belief in the existence of God.  It is true that these creations resulted in terrible consequences, but on the whole, there would be no western civilization without understanding the purpose of man generally and Israel specifically, and the God who created them. 

In the case of the creation of man, it is normally assumed in Jewish tradition that his (man’s) existence was the crowning point of God’s entire creation.  Only man could fulfill God’s aspiration for His world, and was thus necessary for the world as a whole.  This is clearly indicated by Rashi in the following text:

When God repented that He had created man, for man only pursued his evil inclination, the text states:

And God said, “I will erase the human species which I had created from the face of the earth, from man to all animal life, to that which crawls (on the earth), to the birds of the sky, for I repent that I had made them.” Bereisheet 6:7. 

Rashi is perplexed by God’s need to destroy all living things due to the evil perpetrated by humanity. How were they responsible for the evil behavior of man?  He answers, “every thing was created for man.  And once he is terminated, what need is there for all these?”  Rashi, ad locum. 

Why did the relationship between God and His greatest creation reach such a disastrous level that only the eradication of man was necessary. In addition why would God consider man’s existence so troubling that He would violate his own divine nature by repenting His own decisions, something that the prophets stated God would never do.  

The erosion of the relationship between God and man was a steady process described in the text of Bereisheet.  The Torah clearly describes why man was created and the role that he would play in God’s creation.  In chapter 1 of Bereisheet, man is instructed to conquer, control, regulate and supervise the world which God had created. He becomes God’s steward in managing nature.  Bereisheet, 1:28.

In Chapter 2, this role is stated in a more concise manner, “the Lord God took man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to protect it. Id. 2:15. 

There are two ways in which we can understand the role that was given to man.  The first way, as shown above, is the traditional role that allows man to see himself as the crown of creation.  All of the world was created for his benefit.  He would utilize and exploit it and guarantee that it could produce all that is necessary for his needs. If man truly thought of himself in that manner, then he would naturally resent any restrictions that God would place upon his actions.  Why then should he obey any command ordered by God?  When he finally does transgress and is brought to account for that transgresssion, he accepts no responsibility for his behavior and shifts the blame to God himself. “the man said, ‘the woman that you gave to me to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate.’” Id. 3:12.  Rashi emphasizes, “he denied the goodness that God had done for him.”  Rashi, Ad Locum. 

We see from Jewish tradition that God himself was concerned about the prospect that man would see himself as the crown of creation.  This is demonstrated by the following text: “And the Lord God said, ‘it is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helpmate to be with him.’”  Id. 2:18.  The Rabbis understand that this statement maintains that it is not good for God that man is alone. Rashi quoting the Midrash states, “that it should not be said that are two domains in the world, where God is unique in the upper world and does not have a mate, and man in the lower world without a mate.”  Rashi, ad locum.      

Man’s refusal to see the goodness which God had done for him, both in the creation of the world and the existence of Eve, was destined to grow after man was driven from Eden, and came to fruition in the first act of fratricide which was directed more at God than it was at Cain’s brother Abel.  

Eventually, all of mankind abandoned God and denied his goodness, and it became impossible for man to live with God.  This ultimately brought about man’s entire destruction.  

The second way in which we can understand the role that was given to man is, rather than being the crown of creation and the master of the world, man was created to be the world’s servant and caretaker.  He is the worker and nature is his master.  His role in the world is to become God’s employee, to preserve God’s world.  Without that work, he will receive no sustenance and will not continue to exist.  His relationship with God is one where God issues orders and warnings and threatens death for transgressions.  One can easily understand how that type of relationship could easily create anger and resentment. 

The second story of creation is that of the people of Israel.  That process was the exact opposite of what occurred at the creation of man.  Before God could establish a relationship with Israel and introduce His commandments, they had to experience in their own lives both God’s necessity and His goodness.  That was a process which took hundreds of years.  Israel experienced the most horrible form of slavery, where they were robbed of all that was meaningful in life. There was nowhere to turn for any relief, except to God.  It is for that reason, the Torah devotes so much space in describing the nature of the slavery and the miraculous nature of Israel’s redemption.  

At the moment of the formation of the people of Israel as God’s holy nation, i.e. the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Torah, God made sure that Israel fully understood the nature of His goodness and it was only God who redeemed them from their hundreds of years of slavery.  Thus, the first of the Ten Commandments states, “I am the Lord your God who took you out of the Land of Egypt from the house of bondage.”  Shemot, 20:2.  It is only after Israel heard and understood that goodness, that they were able to realize that all the commandments which God had given to them stemmed from His goodness and were commanded for their benefit. 

And, as in any relationship, there were high points and low ones, the ultimate truth is that Israel survived and reciprocated the love which God had shown them.  Indeed, the creation of the people of Israel continues to exist today and is destined to exist for all time.