Sunday, August 03, 2008

The World Was Created In Ten Statements

Somewhat off the cuff:
In Pirkei Avot, we read that the world was created in 10 statements:

פרק ה, משנה א: בעשרה מאמרות נברא העולם; ומה תלמוד לומר, והלוא במאמר אחד יכול להיבראות: אלא להיפרע מן הרשעים, שהן מאבדין את העולם שנברא בעשרה מאמרות, וליתן שכר טוב לצדיקים, שהן מקיימין את העולם שנברא בעשרה מאמרות

but what were these ten "maamarot?" Kabbalists connect them with the 10 sefirot, but on a peshat level, they refer to statements Hashem made in the beginning of sefer Bereishit. And this is clear in the gemara Rosh haShana as well. Rosh haShana Daf 32a:

הני עשרה מלכיות כנגד מי
אמר [רבי לוי] כנגד עשרה הלולים שאמר דוד בספר תהלים
הלולים טובא הוו
הנך דכתיב בהו (תהילים קנ) הללוהו בתקע שופר
רב יוסף אמר כנגד עשרת הדברות שנאמרו לו למשה בסיני
ר' יוחנן אמר כנגד עשרה מאמרות שבהן נברא העולם
הי נינהו ויאמר דבראשית
ט' הוו
בראשית נמי מאמר הוא דכתיב (תהילים לג) בדבר ה' שמים נעשו

Thus, they are the vayomers in Bereishit. But, the (setema de-) gemara objects, there are only 9! The answer is that the first pasuk reads
א בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ. 1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
and we know from Tehillim that this act of creation was also accomplished with a statement, for in Tehillim, it states בדבר ה' שמים נעשו.

I would note a few objections to this resolution.

Firstly, how do we know that this "shamayim" refers to the creation of "shamayim" in pasuk 1? It can easily refer to "shamayim" created in pasuk 6, namely the "rakia" which He later calls "shamayim" in pasuk 8:
ו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם, וִיהִי מַבְדִּיל, בֵּין מַיִם לָמָיִם. 6 And God said: 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.'
ז וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-הָרָקִיעַ, וַיַּבְדֵּל בֵּין הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר מִתַּחַת לָרָקִיעַ, וּבֵין הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר מֵעַל לָרָקִיעַ; וַיְהִי-כֵן. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.
ח וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָרָקִיעַ, שָׁמָיִם; וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם שֵׁנִי. {פ} 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. {P}
Secondly, according to Rashi, on a peshat level, that first pasuk is not a separate act of creation, but rather is a set-up for the first act of creation - that of light. As we might translate, in accordance with Rashi:

"In the beginning of God's creation of heaven and earth, when the earth was formless and void... God said 'let there be light' and there was light."

Finally, this question and answer appears to be the handiwork of the setma digmara, rather than direct reporting from the mouth of Rabbi Yochanan. So we do not really know how he would count them.

Therefore, I feel somewhat free to count up the 10 statements using an alternate scheme. Specifically, Hashem's blessings are also statements, and even use the word leimor. And they set up the mechanations of the world, and how it is to continue, so these are valid creative acts. The problem is that there are then 11 statements. But I would discard the last one, which sets up man's initial diet -- something which is an instruction, rather than a creative pronouncement, and one which is later superseded when man's diet changed.

Thus, I would count:

ג וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר. 3 And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light.
ו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם, וִיהִי מַבְדִּיל, בֵּין מַיִם לָמָיִם. 6 And God said: 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.'
ט וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יִקָּווּ הַמַּיִם מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמַיִם אֶל-מָקוֹם אֶחָד, וְתֵרָאֶה, הַיַּבָּשָׁה; וַיְהִי-כֵן. 9 And God said: 'Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.' And it was so.
יא וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, תַּדְשֵׁא הָאָרֶץ דֶּשֶׁא עֵשֶׂב מַזְרִיעַ זֶרַע, עֵץ פְּרִי עֹשֶׂה פְּרִי לְמִינוֹ, אֲשֶׁר זַרְעוֹ-בוֹ עַל-הָאָרֶץ; וַיְהִי-כֵן. 11 And God said: 'Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit-tree bearing fruit after its kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth.' And it was so.
יד וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי מְאֹרֹת בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמַיִם, לְהַבְדִּיל, בֵּין הַיּוֹם וּבֵין הַלָּיְלָה; וְהָיוּ לְאֹתֹת וּלְמוֹעֲדִים, וּלְיָמִים וְשָׁנִים. 14 And God said: 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years;
טו וְהָיוּ לִמְאוֹרֹת בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמַיִם, לְהָאִיר עַל-הָאָרֶץ; וַיְהִי-כֵן. 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.' And it was so.
כ וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים--יִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם, שֶׁרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה; וְעוֹף יְעוֹפֵף עַל-הָאָרֶץ, עַל-פְּנֵי רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם. 20 And God said: 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.'
7) This is one I count that the gemara does not. Note the word leimor. Hashem says this.
כב וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים, לֵאמֹר: פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ, וּמִלְאוּ אֶת-הַמַּיִם בַּיַּמִּים, וְהָעוֹף, יִרֶב בָּאָרֶץ. 22 And God blessed them, saying: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.'
כד וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, תּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה לְמִינָהּ, בְּהֵמָה וָרֶמֶשׂ וְחַיְתוֹ-אֶרֶץ, לְמִינָהּ; וַיְהִי-כֵן. 24 And God said: 'Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind.' And it was so.

כו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ; וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל-הָאָרֶץ, וּבְכָל-הָרֶמֶשׂ, הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל-הָאָרֶץ. 26 And God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.'
10) This instance of blessing I think the setama digmara counted, because of the word vayomer which follows. But in truth, it is the same as number 7.
כח וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם, אֱלֹהִים, וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם אֱלֹהִים פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, וְכִבְשֻׁהָ; וּרְדוּ בִּדְגַת הַיָּם, וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּבְכָל-חַיָּה, הָרֹמֶשֶׂת עַל-הָאָרֶץ. 28 And God blessed them; and God said unto them: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.'
11) Do they count this one?
כט וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי לָכֶם אֶת-כָּל-עֵשֶׂב זֹרֵעַ זֶרַע אֲשֶׁר עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-הָאָרֶץ, וְאֶת-כָּל-הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר-בּוֹ פְרִי-עֵץ, זֹרֵעַ זָרַע: לָכֶם יִהְיֶה, לְאָכְלָה. 29 And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed--to you it shall be for food;
This is not really a creative act. I think they do not. And indeed, later, Noach gets a different diet. And this does not really set up the machinations of the world.

So what do they count when they count up 9? I would guess they take this list of eleven, and subtract items 11 and 7. Or alternatively, numbers 7 and 10. I would only remove item 11, and keep both blessings which involved speech. And then we have no need to go to sefer Tehillim, or to interpret the first pasuk in this way.

(Perhaps the earlier step in the gemara which counts 10 based on vayomers does so by including item #11 and omitting item #7.)

Update: Shmuel points out different countings in Bereishit Rabba and in the Pesikta. Given that Bereishit Rabbati is the aggadic material of the Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael, and given that Rabbi Yochanan was an Amora of Eretz Yisrael, it seems likely that he was familiar with this accounting:
ויאמר ה' אלהים לא טוב היות
בעשרה מאמרות נברא העולם, ואלו הן:
ורוח אלהים מרחפת;
ויאמר אלהים יהי אור;
ויאמר אלהים יהי רקיע;
ויאמר אלהים יקוו המים;
ויאמר אלהים תדשא הארץ;
ויאמר אלהים יהי מאורות;
ויאמר אלהים ישרצו המים;
ויאמר אלהים תוצא הארץ;
ויאמר אלהים נעשה אדם.

מנחם בר יוסי:
מוציא ורוח אלהים מרחפת, ומביא ויאמר ה' אלהים לא טוב היות האדם.

אמר רבי יעקב בן קורשאי:
מאמר ניתן לרוח בפני עצמה:
These names are admittedly unfamiliar to me. But Rabbi Yaakov ben Korshai we know to be a Tanna, and a teacher of Rabbi Yehuda haNasi at that. For we see in Yerushalmi Pesachim, perek 10 halacha 1:
רבי סימון בשם ר' יהושע בן לוי רבי לא היה אוכל לא חמץ ולא מצה לא מצה מן הדא דר' לוי ולא חמץ מן הדא דר' יודה בן בתירה ור' תלמידי דר' יודה בן בתירה הוה. לא תלמידיה דר' יעקב בן קודשיי הוה. אלא בגין דהוה בכור
And Menachem bar Yossi also appears to be a Tanna, as we see in Bavli Megillah 26a:
בני העיר שמכרו רחובה של עיר אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר רבי יוחנן זו דברי ר' מנחם בר יוסי סתומתאה אבל חכ"א הרחוב אין בו משום קדושה ור' מנחם בר יוסי מאי טעמיה הואיל והעם מתפללין בו בתעניות ובמעמדות ורבנן ההוא אקראי בעלמא:
So the whole thing is Tannaitic, and thus part of that original "taninan."

I would also note that there appears to first be a tradition that there are 10, and subsequently different traditions at how to arrive at that ten. (I still like my reckoning. ;) )

Perhaps I will have opportunity later to track down that Pesikta.


Anonymous said...

There are different sources that give different reckonings. In Bereshit Rabba 17:1, it omits #7, #10 and #11, and instead includes verse 2 - "v'ruach Elokim merachefet" as being a separate dibbur (presumably this would not add up with the gemara). A second opinion there includes the creation of Chava instead, as it began with the words "lo tov heyot haadam levado."

Conversely, the Pesikta (which I haven't seen inside but it's followed in one or two piyutim) doesn't count Bereishit or numbers 7 and 10, but do count #11 and Chava's creation.

joshwaxman said...

I'll try to check it out.

Kol Tuv,

גילוי said...

I was just learning the Yerushalmi Rosh HaShanah perek 4 on Shabbos, mentions this differently, the zichronot are k'neged the viduyim from the first perek of Yeshayahu, of course that doesn't help the drash here but that is an interesting take regardless.

joshwaxman said...


Anonymous said...

See Shabbat 118b. It appears that R Menachem BR Yosi was the son of the Tanna R Yosi.

joshwaxman said...

thanks again.

Kol Tuv,


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