[Avodah] Bereishit

Zvi Lampel zvilampel at gmail.com
Mon Oct 8 06:26:27 PDT 2018

Fri, 05 Oct 2018 15:42:10 -0700, Rabbi <rabbi at opengemara.org> wrote:

The question is if we're working within nature or without. So hurricanes
> are natural, but Beriya very well may not (do you have a source that
> nature started from day 1 vs day 6 or when Adam was evicted from Gan
> Eden)?

*Yes, Chazal and the Rishonim all understood that the six day creation
process was not a natural one.*

''All of creation was created fully formed''. At *ma’aseh b’reishis* the ox
was created not as a calf but as an adult [Rashi in *Rosh Hashanah* 26a s.v.
 *shor sheh-hu par*]; and Adam was likewise created as an adult standing
fully erect, the Talmud reports, within the same 24-hour period.

The idea that Creation was anything less than a totally miraculous process,
not conducted through natural processes at all, ''accelerated” or
otherwise, is rejected by the *Maharal* (*Be’er HaGolah*, p. 83, *Be’er

Know that G-d brought out these creations, all of them, to physical reality
during the six days of *Breishis* by Himself, in His Own Glory—not by means
of an agent, meaning Nature. Creation was contrary to the way things are
after the conclusion of the six days of *Breishis*, wherein *Hashem
Yisborach* conducts His world by means of the agent, i.e. *Nature*.

The *Rambam* explains in *Moreh Nevuchim *that it is illegitimate to base
conclusions about the origin of the world by examining how the world looks
now and assuming that the processes that would now produce such results
were responsible, because the nature of things at their origin is different.

EVERYTHING produced comes into existence from non-existence; even when the
substance of ‎a thing has been in existence, and has only changed its form,
the thing itself, which has gone ‎through the process of genesis and
development, and has arrived at its final state, has now ‎different
properties from those which it possessed at the commencement of the
transition from ‎potentiality to reality, or before that time. Take, for
example, the human ovum as contained in the ‎female's blood when still
included in its vessels: Its nature is different from what it was in the
‎moment of conception, when it was met by the semen of the male and began
to develop. The ‎properties of the semen in that moment were different from
the properties of the living being ‎after its birth when fully developed.
It is therefore quite impossible to infer, from the nature ‎anything
possesses after having passed through all stages of its development, what
the ‎condition of the thing had been at the time this process commenced.
Nor does the condition of ‎a thing in this moment show what its previous
condition has been. If you make this mistake, and ‎attempt to prove the
nature of a thing in potential existence by its properties when actually
‎existing, you will fall into great confusion: You win reject evident
truths and admit false ‎opinions.‎

Let us assume, in our above instance, that a man born without defect had
after his birth been ‎nursed by his mother only a few months; the mother
then died, and the father alone brought him ‎up in a lonely island, till he
grew up, became wise, and acquired knowledge. Suppose this man ‎has never
seen a woman or any female being: he asks some person how man has come into
‎existence, and how he has developed, and receives the following answer:
''Man begins his ‎existence in the womb of an individual of his own class,
namely, in the womb of a female, which ‎has a certain form. While in the
womb he is very small; yet he has life, moves, receives ‎nourishment, and
gradually grows, till he arrives at a certain stage of development. He then
‎leaves the womb and continues to grow till he is in the condition in which
you see him.'' The ‎orphan will naturally ask: ''Did this person, when he
lived, moved, and grew in the womb, eat ‎and drink, and breathe with his
mouth and his nostrils? Did he excrete any substance?'' The ‎answer will
be, ''No.'' Undoubtedly he will then attempt to refute the statements of
that person, ‎and to prove their impossibility, by referring to the
properties of a fully developed person, in the ‎following manner:

• When any one of us is deprived of breath for a short time, he dies, and
cannot move any ‎longer. How then can we imagine that any one of us has
been enclosed in a bag in the ‎midst of a body for several months and
remained alive, able to move?‎

• If any one of us would swallow a living bird, the bird would die
immediately when it ‎reached the stomach, much more so when it came to the
lower part of the belly; if we ‎should not take food or drink with our
mouth, in a few days we should undoubtedly be ‎dead! How then can a human
being remain alive for months without taking food?‎

• If any person would take food and would not be able to excrete it, great
pains and death ‎would follow in a short time--and yet I am to believe that
man has lived for months ‎without that function?!‎

• Suppose by accident a hole were formed in the belly of a person, it would
prove fatal, ‎and yet we are to believe that the navel of the fetus has
been open?!‎

• Why should the fetus not open the eyes, spread forth the bands and
stretch out the legs, if, ‎as you think, the limbs are all whole and

This mode of reasoning would lead to the conclusion that man cannot come
into existence and ‎develop in the manner described.‎

We, the community following in the footsteps of Moses and Abraham, believe
that the world came into being IN such-and-such a form, and BECAME
such-and-such FROM such-and-such (*haya kach mi-kach *), and such WAS
CREATED AFTER such. Aristotle comes to uproot our words, bringing proofs
against us based upon nature in its stabilized, perfected and active state.
As for us, we declare against him that this is legitimate evidence [for
determining processes that must have occurred] after nature’s having
settled down in its fully developed stage; but in no way does this
correspond to something’s characteristics at its being brought into
existence, and produced out of absolute non-existence (MN 2:17).

Shabbos marks the cessation of a process that was ongoing beforehand. If
G-d's method of development of the world was through the same natural laws
and processes in effect now, what ceased on the first Shabbos?

None of the things mentioned above [the creation of Eve from Adam, the tree
of life, and the tree of knowledge, the history of the serpent and the
events connected therewith] is impossible, because THE LAWS OF NATURE WERE

The Ralbag uniquely understands specific statements by Chazal to be saying
that Hashem created virtually everything simultaneously and instantaneously
on the first day, all in their fully developed form (with the exception of
the growth of vegetation of the fifth day) and that therefore the “days” of
Creation are “categories.” This makes the creation process even less
natural. It is noteworthy that the approach of the Ralbag is to build the
understanding through the teachings of *Chazal*, and not through rejecting
them on the basis that they differ with the science of the day.

Zvi Lampel


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