Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Chagiga 12a - Which Was Created First: Heavens or Earth?

Beis Hillel says that the earth was created first and only after was the heavens created. The Tzlach has an elaborate explanation as to why the earth which is seemingly less important, was created first. The Tzlach explains (second approach) that the heavens is always run according to the laws of nature and never has supernatural events that testify to the fact that there is a creator controlling the universe. But on earth there are miracles and supernatural events such as in mitzrayim where the earth deviates from the laws of nature to prove that there is G-d in control. Shamayim is run through midas hadin = "elokim". Therefore, the numerical value of "ha'teva" (nature) = Elokim (i was always troubled by this one since i don't think that we find in tanach the term tevah referring to laws of nature - i recall discussing this earlier on this blog!). But the earth is sometimes run using midas harachamim that allows for a break in the laws of nature. The superiority of the earth that gave it the privellage to be created first is the fact that it sometimes breaks from the laws of nature to prove the existence and involvement of G-d.
Based on this the Tzlach explains the pesukim by the plague of kinim (lice). The magicians of Pharoh could not produce lice and they admitted "etzbah elokim hi" - the finger of Elokim. Yet they immediately continue to reject Hashem. Why? Tzlach explains that the claim of "etzbah Elokim" is a denial of G-d. They were claiming that it was a natural occurrence rather than a miracle. That is why the response was to send the plague of arov (wild animals) which was to show "ki ani Hashem b'kerev ha'aretz". Hashem = A G-d in control of the universe.


Yossie Schonkopf said...

you are correct the טבע is not found in תנך the reason is that the words in the Torah are the essence themselves and Nature or "mother nature" doesn't really exist. The idea is that when the sages coined this term as we perceive things, the used a term that hints to a g-d.

I have trouble with this tzlach, what about when the sun and moon stood for Moshe and Yehushua, wasn't that a miracle in Shamayim? and we see in our gemara that they are in the רקיע which is called שמים?

Lastly, saying that Etzba Elokim is not an admition of the Chartumim seems a stretch and definitely not the simple meaning.

Kabalystically, there is a concept of מחותם לנחתם meaning that as creation goes from one world to a lower world in the endless chain of worlds that are from the Creator himself up to our existence, the concept is that there is a mirror image just like a stamp engraves into an object. (like we see that Man and woman are opposites). This is a very deep concept and is beyond me, but i think it is the deep meaning of our gemara.

Avi Lebowitz said...

good explanation about te'vah, although its significance is still not so clear.
i had the same question about holding back the sun. i thought that perhaps the tzlach means that any change that is perceived on this world is included in aretz rather than shamayim.
regarding the tzlach's peshat of etzbah elokim, it is definitely not the pashut peshat as you point out.
regarding the kabbalistic insight - i am not old enough, give me another few years!

Yossie Schonkopf said...

interesting to note that structurally speaking, many Mishnayos are build in a 1,2-2,1 system. Example is the mishna in Avos perek 5:
שבעה דברים בגולם ושבעה בחכם, החכם אינו מדבר וכו and many others. There are times where it is 1,2-1,2 (isn't the gemara in Nedarim or somewhere that discusses this?)

as an aside, Rav Moshe always discusses the 1st 2 Psukim in the Torah and in general terms this is what he says. The 1st pasuk discusses the ideal state where Shamayim and Eretz are connected as they should be. The 2nd Pasuk is the break down of והארץ being to herself in a disconnected state. It is in that Pasuk that all the 4 גלויות are described as the famous Medrash says תוהו זה יוון וכולי, for a different time.

marcel said...

you can write some biographies of personnalities of