Why Were There Days of Creation? Week 1
A Tale of Two Names: Why Were There Days of Creation?
Rabbi David Fohrman
Founder and Lead Scholar
Why were there six days of creation, at all? It seems like such a quaint notion, the universe being created in 6 days. But you didn't have to be a rocket scientist from the 21st century to realize that an Elenterprise like the universe might take a little more than the 6 days to construct. And you likewise don't have to be the world's most sophisticated scientist to realize that it's pretty hard to get days, in the traditional sense, without the sun and the solar system - which, inconveniently enough, only show up on day 4. So, what's with the days? Why does the Torah insist on them? In this course, we'll take a close look at the text of the Torah, with an eye toward solving these mysteries.
For our latest, most expansive and refined material on this subject, be sure to watch our fully animate course Making Sense of Morning Prayers.
This lecture is part 2 of a 3 part series. For the first series on A Tale of Two Names, be sure to listen to A Tale of Two Names: Elokim and YHVH. For the last in the lecture series, listen to A Tale of Two Names: From The Garden To The Flood.
Rabbi Fohrman: Okay. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back.
Audience Member: We welcome you.
Rabbi Fohrman: Thank you. There's another year, God willing. Nice to see you all. Just so we all understand, this is a class which is being given live to the people here, in Lawrence, New York, and live, as well, around the world on Facebook through the Aleph Beta Premium channel. Don't forget to subscribe when you're home and you can have access to all these delightful recordings. If you're not around, you can just tune in.
Thank you, Shoshana, my assistant, who is here handling the logistics of everything, as well as helping me carry the questions and thrusts and slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as Shakespeare would say, that come from our Facebook and Premium audience. Shoshana will be talking to you guys, and if there are some questions, you guys, who have access to a computer, who are listening on Facebook or on Zoom, are welcome to write in using the comment feature in Facebook. Shoshana will see that. And Shoshana, if anything comes across that you feel I should be talking about, you just interrupt and let me know. Thank you very much.
Last year, I spent the second half of the year on a series that I don't remember exactly what I entitled it. Basically, what the series did was it looked at the two stories of creation. These are the stories that Biblical critics see as written by two different authors, what they call an E author and a J author, named, as it were, for the names of God which predominate in each story. The Elokim story which is Genesis 1, the Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei (YHVH) story which is Genesis 2.
I took a different approach to this, trying to show that it's not merely that there are discrepancies between the two stories that can't be explained through a theory other than two authors. If I were to have taken that approach, we would essentially be playing defense against the Biblical criticism theory. And, as good of a defense as you can mount, it's hard to mount a strong enough defense against the theory.
That's because the Biblical criticism theory has one thing going for it that any defense doesn't. That it's a simple theory. It basically says you have all these discrepancies, it's two different authors. It's very simple. I'm sure you're familiar with Occam's razor. Occam's razor is always the simplest explanation dominates. And if I give you 15 different explanations to 15 different discrepancies, that's not as simple as there are just two authors here.
The approach I took is very different. It was, sort of, going on offence against the theory. What I was showing is that, on the contrary, if you look at the 15 different discrepancies in the theory, that there is a fascinating underlying unity which underlies all the discrepancies in the theory. And that if you argue that there are two different authors, you'd miss seeing the underlying unity in the story.
What I suggested was that the two stories were meant actually to be read in connection with each other, almost to be laid out side by side, and broken up into 25 sections. Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, Section 4. Each of these sections, Stories 1 and 2, form pairs with each other. The paired stories end up explaining each other.
So if you ever get to something you don't understand in Story 1, you don't understand what the taninim (sea monsters) are or why we have to talk about them, just look to the comparable section in the paired story, Genesis 2, and you've got explanations for sea creatures, you've got explanations for everything. And the two stories are meant to complement each other and explain each other.
For those of you who are familiar with my work, the other thing I've done which is similar to this is my work on the 10 Commandments where I argue something similar. Actually, which is that the 10 Commandments are really meant to be read five and five, and their pairs are meant to complement each other and complete each other. There's one and six, two and seven, three and eight, four and nine, and five and 10. Only if you see that, do you really understand the unity, the big-picture story of the 10 Commandments. You can't really see it otherwise. Similarly, you can't really see the big-picture story in Genesis, unless you see the pairs in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.
It's almost as if the Bible is saying that there is a kind of mystical truth that underlies in the Genesis story which cannot be told in any other way. It's almost as if, to get only slightly mystical with you for a second, one of the features of our world, which differs from the world of the Creator, God's world, is basically that one of the things we believe about God is that God is One. The Oneness of God.
The Oneness of God is a tricky kind of concept. If you look at Jewish philosophy, as has been elaborated by Maimonides, Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart), the Kuzari, and others, oneness means more than there are not two gods, there are not three gods. It's a facet of God. It's really the only sort of positive facet we really know about God. We don't really know that much about God. But one of the things we know about Him is that He's One.
If you think about the world we live in, very few things are one. Now, that might strike you as strange, because, you say, here's one computer and this is one table. That's true. But this is only one computer before I take a hammer into it and make it many pieces of a computer. There's nothing fundamentally one about it, that can't be separated into two or three or four or five.
The funny thing is, is that's true for just about anything you can point to in the world. You point to anything that's one and I'll show you that it's actually parts of something else, no matter how far you drill down. You can drill down to one human being, it's made of organs. Organs are made of cells, cells are made of molecules, molecules are made of atoms, atoms are made of protons, electrons, and neutrons. Those are made of quarks, up quarks and down quarks, and all sorts of subatomic particles. We haven't really reached the end of the chain where you can say no, this is fundamental.
So God's Oneness is fundamental in the sense that He just can't be broken apart into two. So one of the problems is that when you talk about God acting in the world, one of the most fundamental compromises you have to make is that you're talking about a Being Who is One operating in a world where oneness is not a thing. Where it's really about two, it's really about everything.
Indeed, any oneness which you think about in the world at large, really is just a balance of two things, or just a balance of two or more things. If you think of any oneness we really have, it's some sort of equilibrium which involves balancing things. If you think about your lives, in your work you try to balance quantity of output versus quality of output. I have to take these two competing ideas and I have to balance them against each other and, only in balancing them against each other, I have some sort of equilibrium, a way that works forward.
If you think about in the physical world, the equilibrium that describes the orbit of the planets. The orbit of the planets is really an equilibrium between two competing forces, which are gravity on the one hand. If I only had gravity, what would happen? Gravity would just take a planet and pull it into the sun, there wouldn't be any order. But there's also motion. This planet has inertia and it's going this way. But it's also got gravity. When you combine gravity and inertia, the planet curves around and you get this nice orbit and we can survive. It's two of these things together.
So the Oneness of God, somehow when it reflects itself in this world, it reflects itself in kinds of oneness. So oneness-es where there are two things that are competing with each other and, in the two of them, they form some kind of equilibrium and make sense.
Similarly, when I would argue or the upshot of what I was arguing in 13 sessions with you last year when we talked about this is, fundamentally, that there is a mystery, a fundamental mystery regarding God. The fundamental mystery regarding God is that, one of the deepest ways in which His Oneness is unknowable to us is in terms of how He deals with us, that He has aspects of what we in this world of two would call two kinds of beings. Nevertheless, He's One. And those two beings are described using the two fundamental names of God, Elokim and YHVH.
Elokim, if you've grown up in yeshivah (a Jewish boys' school) or in Beis Yaakov (a Jewish girls' school), you know that these names are always associated with traits of God. The traits of God, you've heard about Elokim we associate with din, justice, YHVH we associate with rachamim, compassion.
These two fundamental aspects of God, Who is God really? Is God the just, stern God who is interested in making sure that everything is there, fair and square? That is a value. The world can't get along without it. Very important. Is God compassionate? The world can't get along without that either.
YHVH, we suggested, is God as parent. Elokim is God as judge. We suggested last year that these two names really come from something a little bit more fundamental than justice and compassion. We don't talk about them as justice and compassion. It's more how we relate to them. But what we argued before is that where the names really come from is actually two aspects of the creative process. Those two aspects of the creative process get down to the question of what it means to create. There are, kind of, two different ways of thinking about creation, when you think of God as the Creator, or, really, even if you think about yourself as a creator.
When you create things, if you describe what it means for you to create, so what does the process look like? Does anyone want to take a stab at that? Describe your creative process. What do you do? Anybody? In work, you plan, you have some sort of idea. Go ahead. You execute it. Then you see if it's good or bad.
That's basically how we all work. It doesn't really matter what you do. If you're an architect, you've got to think about what you want the building to look like, you've got to draw up your blueprints, you've got to execute it, you've got to evaluate it.
If you're a psychologist, you've got to meet with your client and you have to come up with some sort of treatment plan. Then you've got to execute the plan, then you've got to check in now and then and evaluate and see if it's really working out.
So all sorts of creativity, that's, kind of, the way it works. But that process is a process that typically plays out, say, in your professional life. If you think about your professional life, you can apply that matrix of planning, executing, and evaluating.
Or, even in your home life, to the extent to which you're borrowing from the professional world. You want to renovate your kitchen, so you're going to meet with a designer, you're going to plan it out. But all of these are borrowed from the world of work.
There is another kind of creativity with which this kind of stuff just doesn't apply. That is parenting. For all of planned parenthood, the bottom line is it's not quite the way parenting works. Even if you would plan your children, you can't really plan your children. Your children emerge from you and they come from you. You don't evaluate them in the same way.
As a matter of fact, the one thing, in a deep kind of way, that's almost most toxic for parenting -- what's the one thing, where the teenager slams the door and screams at his parent, if there's one thing that is the classic teenager screaming at their parent when they slam the door, with an exclamation mark, what do you they say? Don't judge me. Do you understand? Don't judge me.
If you think about judgment, judgment is that last part. That's din. Din is judgment. And it's that last part of the creative process. What do the parents say? Well, I'm, like, your creator, I've got to judge you, and that's what creation is. What would you say? Well, really, to what end? Because judgment, at least for God, what does it imply? If God finds that it's good, what's going to happen? It's going to stay. And if God finds that it needs improvement, He'll improve it. But what if God finds that it's bad? He's going to get rid of it. Is that really what you're going to do as a parent? Is that how you're going to parent your kids?
So the process of judgment implies a certain kind of detachment from that which you create. A detachment which we can afford in our professional lives. Indeed, which is good in our professional lives.
If I'm writing a book, I have to have some kind of detachment from the manuscript, or the manuscript is going to be crummy. Shoshana knows this because she's working with me on a book. If I am so personally invested in a manuscript and I can't get any distance from it and I'm biased towards it and it's just bad, it's repetitive, it harps on points I've talked about before, it's boring, it doesn't touch people, but I have a bias towards it, I can't put that out in the world.
You need detachment from the things that you create, when you create in the first kind of way. And yet, that's not what kids need. They need a little bit of that maybe, but mostly, there is another aspect of life other than judgment, which comes along with something coming from you and being deeply personally attached to it. The ultimate subjectivity, which we call the feeling of love. Or compassion.
What compassion is, is the desire to nurture that which comes from you because, darn it, I am subjectively connected to it. If you want an argument for the essence of that subjective commitment, take a look at the last words of Jonah which we just read.
God makes that argument to Jonah in the aftermath of the story of the kikayon (gourd). Jonah, interestingly, a person who was a child of who? Ben Amitai (the son of Amittai). A kind of interesting name, wouldn't you think? Jonah, the child of emet, the child of truth. And what he's standing up for really is truth, and what gets him mad is when God is willing to forgive Nineveh.
He says, if you look at where he makes his case, "ki yadati ki Atah Kel chanun v'rachum," I know that You're a compassionate and gracious God. "Erech apayim," slow to anger, "v'rav chesed," and full of compassion.
Now, if you know the 13 Attributes of Mercy, which he's quoting from, the next word after "erech apayim v'rav chesed" should be "emet." However, he leaves that out. When he leaves that out, he replaces it with another word instead. He says I knew You were "erech apayim v'rav chesed v'nicham al hara'ah," and you change Your mind about doing evil.
His complaint is, he's standing up for truth. I am the son of truth, and You are a softy. You, God, don't want to recognize the truth. What's a siman (sign) for truth? Truth, justice, in the American way. What justice is, is just applied truth. What Jonah is saying is that sometimes truth and justice are uncomfortable. Sometimes that makes you do things that aren't so nice. Sometimes you've got to destroy when truth and justice means things are bad and they should be gotten rid of.
There's bad in the world and the people of Nineveh are bad and they should just be gotten rid of. Therefore, God, You might claim that you are a God of truth, but You're not. You're a God Who is "nicham al hara'ah." You're a softy. When truth demands bad, You won't do it. You change Your mind. So don't tell me that You're an "erech apayim v'rav chesed v'emet." You're not.
This is his argument. And God, responding to that argument, makes a very curious claim. What He really does is He takes someone, Jonah, who is so committed to justice that He can't imagine living in a world without it, he wants to die rather than live in a world in which justice is compromised, in which Nineveh is forgiven, and God shows him that he also wants to die rather than live in another world, a world in which gourds go away because a worm takes them away.
A gourd was a gift to Jonah, of love. It came out of nowhere. Jonah already had a sukkah (shelter) for himself. He had a shade. But God said, you know what, I'm going to give you My own shade. And He gave him a shade. This wonderful thing. And "vayismach Yonah al hakikayon simchah gedolah," Jonah was so happy. Only to wake up in the morning to find the worm had taken it away.
When the worm takes away the gourd, Jonah is ready to die. God says, look, all the worm was, was the cold, hard hand of justice taking away what never deserved to be there in the first place. In a world of justice, in a world of truth, every action has a consequence and every consequence has an action that precedes it. If this gourd were to exist in a world of truth, it would have to come from the sea. There is no sea. All there is, is love. There's no progenitor for this thing. Therefore, it ought to go away.
If you can understand that you can be subjective towards that gourd, if you can want it to be nurtured out of compassion, then you can have a little bit of an inkling into what I feel like. Compassion is where there is no reason for something to be here, but it can be nurtured.
If you think about the word for compassion in Hebrew, rachamim, it comes from rechem (womb). That's what wombs do. If a womb ever asked what you did to deserve being here, there would never be any child. A child is because no, we can nurture this and it can be wonderful, so the womb will respond to that and will nurture the fetus and allow it to become wonderful, if it can become wonderful. If not, there's a miscarriage. But if it can, then that's the job of a womb.
But a womb is fundamentally subjective in that way. It's taking what's yours and making it grow out. Which is really what God says to Jonah. If you think about the last words of Jonah, the last words of Jonah are "atah chasta al hakikayon," you had compassion for that gourd. What are the next words? "Asher lo amalta bo v'lo gidalto."
I always wondered why those words where there. That you never worked for that gourd, you never brought it up. "Va'ani lo achus al Ninvei," and I shouldn't have compassion on Nineveh, this great city? Why did God have to mention that you didn't work hard for that gourd? Why is that the issue? The answer is, it's such a subjective issue. But that's the whole point. God's point is that the nature of compassion is subjective. The nature of compassion is that a creator invests and that investment means something. It's not logical.
If I was just a builder and not a parent, then that subjectivity would work against me. What would your financial advisor say if you came and said, you know, I'm not so sure I want to sell this stock? You know, I invested in the stock and I put more money in it. I know it's going down and I know it's looking like it's more or less worthless and I know the output for it isn't so great, but, like, we already put so much money into it, I put even more money into it, and I've had it for all these years. He'd think you're ludicrous. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. But there is no cutting your losses with a child. You pour your life into your child.
So this is this other aspect of creativity. As I said before, one of the great mysteries of God is that God is One. God is not the just God and God is not the compassionate God. God is this Oneness, which somehow seamlessly blends those two things.
But, to the extent that justice and compassion, to the extent that creativity through building and creativity from that which emerges from me, objective creativity and subjective creativity, to the extent that we humans can only think in duality, can only think in this little prison of our fragmented world, so you have to talk to us using that sort of language. In that language, the best way you can translate One God is with these two fundamental names that describe God as both Creator and King, both King and Father, Avinu Malkeinu (our Father, our King). Only in that duality can we have an inkling of what the One God is like.
Therefore, in telling the story of creation, seemingly the literary device which the Bible opts for is not to tell you one story, but to tell you two stories. Because in a world of two-ness, the only way you can understand oneness is by understanding the blend of two and understanding how these two things come together.
That's essentially my summary of 13 lectures from last year. That's all I'm going to say about it. Go back, listen to some of them if you didn't hear them in person. You can go back and listen to them slowly as you go through here. It will be a fascinating listen. One day we'll make something more out of it. Maybe a book, maybe other things. But in the meantime, they are there on our site. A Tale of Two Names: Elokim and YHVH.
So what we're going to do this year is take the ideas that we talked about then, in that series, and take it forward into the Five Books. What I want to do with you is take the story of Elokim and YHVH and advance it forward in the Five Books, from the creation story.
In particular, I'd like to look at a number of events with you. For starters, we'll be looking at the story of the Garden of Eden. That will be our first take. The second story is we're going to be looking at a fabled, one of the strangest tales in all of the book of Genesis. This is at the end of last week's portion and of the previous week's portion, the strange, strange story of the bnei Elokim (children of God) and the bnot ha'adam (daughters of man). Seemingly the story of this mixed marriage between these angelic beings and these people beings. And these people seem to be a precursor to the story of the flood in some kind of way. What's going on in that story? It's going to be the second thing we're going to look at. The third thing we're going to look at is the story of the flood itself, in light of Elokim and YHVH, A Tale of Two Names.
So basically, we're going to be taking A Tale of Two Names as relates to the Garden of Eden, A Tale of Two Names as relates to the story of the children of God and daughters of man, A Tale of Two Names as it relates to the flood, A Tale of Two Names as it relates to certain aspects of Abraham's stories, specifically Abraham and the stone. Then, Abraham and the akeidah (binding). And finally, the epilogue is going to be A Tale of Two Names at the burning bush, which I think will be the last thing we're going to look at. The argument I'm going to make to you there is that, ironically, even though it's the last story we're going to look at, A Tale of Two Names actually starts there.
The reason why it starts there is because -- it's kind of tricky and I'll make this argument to you in detail when we get there. Essentially, what happens is, is that, if you remember, at the burning bush, one of the things that Moses asks God is what His name is. He finally asks what His name is. And then you have this weird thing when God comes up with His name. Then, a little bit later in the story, after this, do you remember where He says, just before the Exodus actually gets going, the moment where it gets going, God appears to Moses and makes a declaration about His name?
What does He say? Actually, He says, until now I've been known as Kel Shakai (Almighty God), "u'Shmi Hashem lo nodati lahem," and My name, YHVH, I have never made known to them.
That's strange, because if you've been reading the Bible, that comes as news to you, where you've seen the name YHVH throughout the entire Bible until now. So you think to yourself, how in the world could it be that "u'Shmi Hashem lo nodati lahem?"
The truth is, there's a very simple answer. A lot of ink has been spilled on that question, but there's a very simple answer to that question. Just think about it. What's the simplest, most basic answer to that question? The answer is that there's a difference between what the people know and what you know, as a reader of the Bible.
When did the Bible get written? After this. The Bible only gets written at Sinai, which didn't happen yet. The only reason why you know the name YHVH is because the Bible, after this point in time that God reveals His name, now goes back and tells you this story, after that name, YHVH, is revealed.
So imagine you're the author. You're God. You're writing the Bible. At the burning bush, the name YHVH got revealed for the first time. I want to even argue that the name YHVH got made up at the burning bush. It wasn't that it got revealed. God made up the name. Because Moses comes to Him and says, what's Your name?
Now, if you think about it, if I'm God, do I really need a name? I'm God. I don't really need a name. So assume a human being is pestering me and saying look, I need a name. So you're thinking it's, like, oh, this is marketing class where you need a brand. I don't come with brands. I'm the Creator. "Ehyeh asher ehyeh," I am what I am. Deal with it. You know what I mean?
Then, God actually crafts out of "ehyeh asher ehyeh," I am what I am -- think about what the name "ehyeh" really means. "Ehyeh," I will be. And think about what YHVH means. It sure sounds a lot like -- YHVH, really is -- if you take the idea of being and you bifurcate it in time, to hayah (it was), in past, and hoveh (it is), in present, and yihyeh (it will be) in future, and you actually overlay those on top of each other, what's it going to start to look like? Take hayah, overlay it with hoveh, and the Yud becomes a Vav. Overlay that with yihyeh, and then you get a Yud at the beginning. What's it going to spell? YHVH. It spells this kind of existence which is non-human.
We have past existence, we have present existence, we have future existence. We exist either in the past, present, or future. But we don't have YHVH existence. Only One Who has YHVH existence is the One Who is being -- no, it's not even eternal. Because eternal just meaans that when I was, I was, when I am, I am, when I will be, I will be, and I'm this plus that plus that. But not all of that together. It's a state of being without respect to time. Because time is irrelevant to the Creator of time, the One Who is outside of time.
So God basically comes and says you know, come to think of it, this notion of "ehyeh asher ehyeh," isn't such a bad start to a name. I can come up with a nifty little brand on the basis of that. Let's just call Myself YHVH.
If you actually look at the burning bush story, that's actually where God comes up with it and says "ehyeh asher ehyeh … shelachani aleichem." And then He says tell them "ehyeh shelachani aleichem." Then God says you know, on third thought, just tell them "Hashem," YHVH, "Elokei [avoteichem] shelachani aleichem zeh Shmi l'olam v'zeh zichri l'dor dor." That's going to be My name. You want My name? There's My name, right there. That was how God crafted it. He crafted it out of "ehyeh asher ehyeh." Then He distilled it down to its essence. He says okay, I'll give you a name, YHVH.
And then, once that name exists, because God made it up for Moses at the burning bush, if you're God and you're writing the Bible and you're telling generations what happened, what are you going to do? You're going to use it. Where are you going to use it? You're going to use it anywhere it seems relevant. So you're going to see all right, so now that I've got this name, YHVH, the God of being, and I've got this other name, which is a more generic name, the God of judgment, this Creator God, this Elokim kind of God, and I've got this name Shakai, so I'm going to use whichever name seems most appropriate as I tell the story.
When I was relating more as a YHVH kind of God, which is a Creator being emerged from My being kind of God, so I'm going to use that kind of name to describe what's happening. When I'm more of a strict constructionist and I make things and I build them, I will use my name Elokim. I will use these various different names, because that's the best way to, in shorthand, describe what's going on. Now that I came up with these names.
What you really have at the burning bush is the story of the creation of YHVH. Even though, as you read through Genesis, you, the reader, are seeing what happened after those names were created. So the last chapter of what we're going to do is actually the story of the creation of YHVH, which is the story of the burning bush. Well, look at that. That's kind of the game plan going forward.
Okay. In the balance of our time today, what I'd like to do is share with you something that relates to all of this from the very beginning, which is earlier than the story of the Garden of Eden. We'll actually start on the Garden of Eden next week, but I'm going to give you a little prologue to that, relating to these two names of God, Elokim and YHVH. We'll be going back to the earliest moments of creation, and I'll try to show you how, even though there are these two stories, creation 1 and creation 2, in the earliest moments of creation 1, you actually have the seeds of these two names and what they will become. I want to spend a little bit of time talking about it today.
What I'm going to share with you now is new. It's not something that I've really taught before. I told Shoshana about it a little bit. I told her about it, without telling her it. This is something which occurred to me over the Yom Tov Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), during Israel's Shmini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly), when they're actually reading Genesis. It occurred to me as were reading Genesis. I want to share it with you because I think it is kind of interesting.
What we're going to do is, I'm going to use what's up on the screen for our look at Genesis. We're also going to relate to a couple of the prayers. I want to begin actually with the prayer book for a moment. I want to share with you a puzzling aspect of our prayers.
We're going to be looking at Kri'at Shma (Recital of Hear), in the morning we say Hear, and the prelude for Hear, Hear has two blessings associated with it, which are known halachically (legally) as Birchot Kri'at Shma (Blessings of the Recital of Hear). Because they're called Blessings of the Recital of Hear, it's clear that they're meant as adjuncts to Hear. The question I have for you is, why are these blessings, in fact, adjuncts to Hear?
Now, the two blessings that are adjuncts to Hear in the morning are Yotzer Or (Creator of Light), and then followed by Ahavah Rabbah (Abundant Love), the God Who loves us.
Now, Abundant Love, which I'm not going to talk about in detail now, it's more understandable why that should be one of the Blessings of the Recital of Hear, because if you look at the themes of Abundant Love, Abundant Love is going to talk about how God loved us and then an aspect of that love is that He gave us the Bible, and the idea of Hear is fundamentally connected to that.
In the first paragraph of Hear, the main point of it is really what sort of emotional relationship you should have to the Bible, and it really picks up on these things of Abundant Love. Basically, this notion of Abundant Love is that He loved us, and then in Hear, of course, there's this command that we're supposed to love God. And love usually is mutual. Well, hopefully it's mutual. And so, there's the kind of back and forth that goes from the blessing of saying God loves us to we love God. "V'ahavta et Hashem Elokecha," of course, is how that main blessing starts after "shma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad," you should love God.
That immediately gets into the Bible. Because if you love God, "v'ahavta et Hashem Elokecha b'chol levavcha u'v'chol nafshecha u'b'chol me'odecha," therefore, the next idea is "v'hayu hadvarim ha'eiileh," these things that I command you, today, "asher Anochi metzavecha hayom al levavecha."
That seems like a strange phrase to translate. What does it mean that these thing that I command you today should be on your heart? What I think that means, the simplest explanation of that, is that when you normally think of a command, if you would normally think of a sentence that began with "v'hayu hadvarim ha'eileh asher Anochi metzavecha hayom," these things that I command you today, you would think that the job of a preacher, if their Creator commands something, they should do it. Your job is to obey a command, one might imagine.
But strangely, that's not what Hear says. It doesn't say that these things that I command you today, you should do. It says these things that I command you today should be on your heart. ""v'hayu hadvarim ha'eileh asher Anochi metzavecha hayom al levavecha."
Basically, the idea is, "v'hayu hadvarim ha'eileh asher Anochi metzavecha hayom al levavecha," seems to suggest that, as children of God, there actually is something that we need to do, other than simply obey His commands. That is, we're asked to have an emotional relationship with those commands. Those commands should mean something to us, subjectively.
Here we begin to get something of the mystery that I was alluding to before, of the One God. The mystery is that if God really is "Hashem Elokeinu," if God really is "Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad," think about those two names of God. "Shma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad." Elokeinu is which name? God as Elokim. Hashem is which name? The God of mercy.
These two different names of God are coming back in Hear. Really, what Hear is really saying is listen folks, there is this mysterious unity behind these two names of God. That is our fundamental declaration of faith, what I just spent half an hour talking to you about. Which is that the God is Hashem, Who is YHVH. He is our Elokeinu. He is The God we see as Master, Who we see as King.
Which, if you think about it, it's crazy. It's kind of ludicrous. It's almost like saying, who is your master? Everyone's got to worship somebody. Who is your king? Who is your master? Well, guess Who our Master is. Our Master is actually our Father, the One Who loves us.
Those are two entirely different roles. Who is the one we look to for judgment, The One Who has the great objective view of how everything should work in His kingdom? The most subjective Being imaginable. Hashem. That "Hashem Elokeinu," He is our master, "Hashem Echad." And those two things, even though it's crazy, they actually come together in the unity of this One Being we call God.
Because our Master is Hashem, the subjective God, Who loves us, Who is our Creator, because of that, the emotions that we should have towards God is not just the fear that you have feeling like you're in the presence of the ultimate Judge of the universe, but "v'ahavta et Hashem Elokecha," you should love God.
And because that's true, when does God actually command you to do something? You shouldn't just be a soldier who snaps your heels and obeys, because that would only be appropriate if God were Elokeinu and not Hashem. But the fact that God is Hashem and Elokeinu means that you have to respond with love. You actually have to look at God's commands as love letters from this mysterious Being Who you can't touch and you can't feel, and the only way you have of getting to know Him is His commands.
If there was somebody you loved very deeply and you couldn't hug them and you couldn't touch them, but the only thing you had was their letters to you, you'd treasure those. Those would actually matter to you.
"V'hayu hadvarim ha'eileh asher Anochi metzavecha hayom al levavecha," you should have an emotional relationship to those, and therefore, "v'shinantam l'vanecha," they should be something you would want to teach to your kids. "V'dibarta bam," they should be something you should be talking about, "b'shivtecha b'veisecha," when you're at home you should talk about them. "U'v'lechtecha baderech," when you're away you should talk about them.
Because if this is the one you love and this is the only thing you have of them and you're in love, what do you do? You just babble about them all the time. That you should be babbling about the Bible.
The same way, it's like if people talk to you about someone they love and they get a little bit repetitive after a while, you should be like that annoying person, that you're always talking about the Bible. You're talking about the Bible when you're home, you should be talking about the Bible on the road. You should just be in love. That's what you should be. That's what the first paragraph of Hear is really talking about.
Therefore, Abundant Love, the blessing which precedes that, makes a lot of sense, why that's a blessing of the Recital of Hear. It talks about God's love for us, that He gave us the Bible, and hence, it sets the stage for Hear, which is the reciprocation of that in terms of our love of God.
What I want to focus with you on, which is strange, is the blessing that precedes that, and why the blessing which precedes that is a blessing that is part of the Recital of Hear.
Now, specifically my question for you is why the blessing that precedes it is part of the Recital of Hear, not why we say it. I understand why we say it. The blessing is Creator of Light. It's blessing God for creating light. But, now, I understand why you'd want to in Shacharit (the morning service) bless God for creating light. It's the morning service. There's light outside. You're happy about it. But my question isn't that. My question is why this shows up as the blessing of the Recital of Hear. Why does this show up as part of the Recital of Hear? It shouldn't show up as part of the Recital of Hear.
As a matter of fact, it's almost redundant, because we already have a blessing in which you've described how wonderful it is that it's light outside. It appears earlier in the service, when you make all of those blessings. These are not the Blessings of the Recital of Hear, but they're Birchot HaShachar (the Morning Blessings). In the Morning Blessings, what do you say? What's your first blessing? You're basically saying you woke up, "Asher notein lasechvi vinah l'havchin bein yom u'vein lailah." You're talking about how happy you are that it's day, how happy you are that you can understand that it's day.
It's, like, you think we got that covered. Even if you want to get a little bit more into it, I don't want to just bless God that I woke up, I want to bless God for the light itself, great, put it in the Morning Blessings somewhere. What is this doing in the Blessings of the Recital of Hear, such that it is the introduction to Hear? What's that about? That is the question I want to address with you. A reasonable question?
Now, you could say, possibly, by way of answering this question, that it, sort of, kind of, has to do with Hear. How does it, sort of, kind of, have to do with Hear, that it's morning outside? In other words, what do we say in Hear that relates to that? What in Hear reminds you of morning? When do you say Hear? When are you supposed to talk about these words of Bible? All of the time. But the phrase for all of the time is "v'shachbecha," when you go to sleep, "uvkumecha," when you wake up. When do you wake up? In the morning.
So maybe, that's why we've got a blessing of the Recital of Hear that has to do with it being morning. That's Creator of Light. Could be. Probably is true. But here is what I would add. If that was the only explanation I gave you as to why Creator of Light is part of Recital of Hear, you'd go home and you'd be like ah. How was the shi'ur (lecture) today? Ah. Why? There was this great explanation of what the Creator of Light has to do with the Blessings of the Recital of Hear. Oh no, it just didn't do anything for me. It's usually pretty good when I'm in the group, but today, I don't know, it fell flat.
What's wrong? Why isn't that such a great explanation? If you would have to mine your dissatisfaction with that explanation, you would say okay, but I just don't really get why we have to have a whole blessing of the Recital of Hear, because it happens to say in Hear the words of "v'shachbecha uvkumecha" as a way of saying you should be talking about it all the time, it just happens to use the phrase when you get up and when you go to sleep. So when now we're talking about the morning, it feels a little fluffy. It's a stretch.
Because Hear talks about a lot of things. Hear talks about He knows. Hear talks about mezuzot (doorposts), Hear talks about teaching the stuff to your kids, it talks about tefillin (phylacteries). Let's have a blessing of the Recital of Hear that talks about phylacteries. Let's have a blessing of the Recital of Hear that talks about doorposts. Let's have a blessing of the Recital of Hear that talks about the importance of education for your children, "v'shinantam l'vanecha." How come, of all things, we settle on Creator of Light, picking up on one word of "v'shachbecha uvkumecha?"
So I get it, that it probably is picking up on that word, but why? It seems so rare. Must be, if it is picking up on that word, "v'shachbecha uvkumecha," the fact that we have an entire blessing of Recital of Hear means that it's not just any word in Hear, but it's really important for Hear. It means that, to understand Hear properly, you really have to understand Hear's relationship to morning. It's a thing that needs to be understood. That, at a minimum, would have to emerge from it.
Which then presents a puzzle to us. Why is Hear so integrally connected to this notion of morning? That is something I want to talk to you about. That's question number one.
Question number two, while we're at it in the Blessings of the Recital of Hear, relates to what happens after this. Let's imagine the Blessings of the Recital of Hear, let's imagine the blessing of Creator of Light, as a blessing that your child, your little sixth-grader, Timmy, has just composed. Imagine there was no Creator of Light and the religious school teacher in Sunday school suggested that it would be really good if all of the children composed their very own blessing in advance of the Recital of Hear.
Your little Shimmy or Timmy, take your pick, came home with the text of Creator of Light. The teacher is going to grade them on how good of a blessing of Recital of Hear it is.
You'd imagine, the teacher's first question is, Shimmy, I understand Shoshana or I understand Devorah who came up with Abundant Love. That makes a lot of sense, as we talked about. But, you, Creator of Light, I don't get what you're talking about. What does that have to do with the Recital of Hear? That's going to be her first question.
Her next question is, once she actually starts reading what Shimmy wrote, frankly, it doesn't seem to be a very well-put-together blessing at face value. Let's just read it and you'll see why.
"Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha'olam," blessed are You, our God, "Yotzei or u'Vorei choshech Oseh shalom u'Vorei et hakol."
This actually comes as a paraphrase of a verse in Isaiah, 45, 7. It's a paraphrase, it's actually not the phrase itself, in which Isaiah speaks of God as the Creator of light, the Creator of darkness, and strangely also to a few other things. "Oseh shalom," the Maker of harmony, the Maker of peace, "u'Vorei et hakol," the Creator of everything.
The verse actually is exactly these same words, but in the original verse, the word everything doesn't appear. A different word appears. A word which is shocking. So shocking that we didn't want people saying this every morning, as it would freak you out. So we changed the word. But the verse in the original Isaiah is "Yotzei or u'Vorei choshech," the Creator of light and darkness, "Oseh shalom," the Creator of harmony, "u'Vorei et hara," and the Creator of evil.
Now, the notion of God as the Creator of evil really opens up a pandora's box of theological issues. It's an odyssey of all sorts of issues. How could God be responsible for evil, is God responsible for evil, what does that mean, how does it make sense? Those are all very interesting philosophical questions. I have lots of thoughts about them, but I don't want to share that with you today. That's not what I want to focus on. Let's give little Shimmy a pass for quoting Isaiah over here and quoting it euphemistically. Let's just move on.
"Hamei'ir la'aretz v'ladarim aleha b'rachamim." This is a fine thing to say. "Hamei'ir la'aretz v'ladarim aleha b'rachamim." If you're going to elaborate on the notion of God being very nice for having created light, then it sounds like a nice thing to say. That God, Who shines light upon the earth and to all of those who live upon it in compassion, is a very swell thing to say in a blessing that talks about light. We'll give Shimmy a double check mark for the beginning of his blessing.
But it's here that his blessing goes off the rails, because look at the next thing little Shimmy says. "U'v'tuvo mechadeish bechol yom tamid ma'asei breishit." And in His goodness, God recreates always, constantly, all of creation. Speaking of recreating all of creation, "mah rabu ma'asecha Hashem," look at all the things You did, God, "kulam b'chachmah asita," all of them You've done so amazingly, "malah ha'aretz kinyanecha," the world is completely full of Your stuff, "haMelech Hamromam levado mei'az," the King Who is above all of it.
There are zebras and zebras are very cool. There are laws of physics and they're amazing. There are rocks and minerals and gold and carbon and silver and there are even hippopotamuses. There are so many things in the world, I can't even get enough of it. I feel so enraptured looking at all of the things that You've created. Now, little Shimmy is off in religious rapture talking about all of the things that God has created.
Meanwhile, his somewhat more cognitively-minded, Miss Wormwood, from Calvin and Hobbes, is looking at Shimmy's little essay and, since it's an English essay, is going to critique it on what grounds? You have completely digressed. The train has just left the station. I'm going to call Shimmy in for a little discussion and say, Shimmy, what's the main idea you were trying to get at in this blessing? Let's just talk about it. It's the Recital of Hear. What did you want to say?
Shimmy's going to say I wanted to just talk about God Who created light. Why? Because I thought it was really important. In Hear, we mention that we get up in the morning, I thought that was really important.
The teacher said look, I could argue with you about that, that light is really important to Hear, but I'm willing to give it to you. Fine. Talk about light. What would I expect you to say in the blessing, then? Light is wonderful. You can see, let's talk about optics maybe, we can talk about the colors in the rainbow, we can talk about how good it is that it's light instead of dark, we can talk about how light comes with heat, we can talk about how it's better than being minus 373 degrees Kelvin, the deep space without light.
The question is, why did you go off on a tangent and start talking about everything else? The name of the blessing is Creator of Light. When you come back, the way you close the blessing, is "Yotzer hame'orot," the Creator of light. So that's clearly your theme, Shimmy, so what are you doing talking about zebras in the middle of your blessing? It's a very nice thing, I get it. The religious rapture thing is very holy. But it just doesn't hold together.
This is the second critique which you might have on Shimmy. Must be, if this is actually the blessing, that that critique is wrong. It must be that, in order to properly understand the creation of light, the creation of light is intimately connected with everything else. We, sort of, have to figure out why and how that's true.
Two things that emerge structurally, in this quicky study of this first blessing of the Recital of Hear. A, the idea of dawn and morning seems to be central to the idea of Hear, not peripheral. Otherwise, what's this blessing doing here? B, this notion of everything else being created also seems to be central to the creation of light, not just peripheral to it. It's not just, like, oh, now I can see these things. It's somehow very important and connected to Hear and connected to light. So what does that mean and how does that work? These are our questions.
I'm going to finish outlining the couple of questions I want to ask you, and then next week we'll come together and try to pull this together into a theory. That's what we're going to do. Let me give you one or two more questions relating to this.
While we're talking prayers, let's turn to a different prayer. Let's turn to Kedushah (Sanctification). Sanctification, the third blessing of Shmoneh Esrei (the 18 Blessings), is in many ways the most abstract and ethereal. Literally quite ethereal. Sanctification is hard to understand. I want to go with you to the Sanctification of -- Sanctification, depending on the day, takes slightly different forms. I want to look with you at the particular version that you find in minhag Ashkenaz (Eastern-European custom), said for Mussaf (Additional Service) on Sabbath morning. Many of you just said it yesterday. If you just follow that with me.
Sanctification on Sabbath is, again, one of those things which, frankly, as a person praying -- here's the thing that's frustrating about Sanctification. If you've been brought up to pray, in our traditional system, you know that the most central part of prayer, the holiest part of prayer is Sanctification. That's the part we're just absolutely not going to talk, we're going to be silent, everything stops. No matter where you are in your own personal 18 Blessings, you will stop praying, you're going to pay attention to Sanctification. So it's really important. It's the most important part of communal prayer, right up there with Hear itself.
Yet the frustrating thing about Sanctification is it's so hard to figure out what in the world it means. You can, sort of, kind of, translate the words. But it's so ethereal. It's, like, here are these angels, this is what the angels say, we want to be like angels. These angels are talking about God's holiness and God's glory. It just seems like the kind of thing which doesn't really mean much to an actual flesh and blood human being. What's God's holiness, what's His glory? It fills the world. Something like Handel could sing about in Messiah or something. It sounds glorious, but, practically, what it actually means is hard to figure out.
But, one of the interesting things is that Hear actually makes a cameo appearance within Sanctification itself, specifically over here. You see it right down over here, towards the very end. "Mimkomo Hu yifen b'rachamim v'yachon am hamyachadim Shemo erev vavoker bechol yom tamid pa'amayim b'ahavah shema omrim."
Now, it's not like we haven't said Hear before. You just said Hear 10 minutes before this. But yet, we're all going to come together, "shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad Hu Elokeinu Hu avinu." It seems like the centerpiece of Sanctification is Hear. The question is, what is Hear doing back in the middle of Sanctification? We just said it before. What's the theory?
There are some who, puzzled with this question, offer their historical answer. In the olden days, the gentiles were not so happy with Jews coming together and reciting Hear. They took it as an offence to paganism or as an offence against this notion that there's only One God and not more than one god. So what happened is, we had to be rather circumspect about it and therefore, if Hear got banished, if you couldn't say it, then maybe the sensors were gone by the time you should have said Hear so you get it back in by throwing it into Sanctification. So we crafted a way to just talk about Hear in Sanctification, which is --
So maybe the pagans had problems. I'm just telling you that this is a theory out there. But I'm not such a great fan of that theory. If that were true, then, basically, there is nothing so holy about Sanctification. Sanctification just got thrown together because anti-Semites had their way with us. But no. This is a really important text.
I want to argue that no, this text is actually important. Hear really does have to be there. My question is, what role does Hear play within Sanctification?
I want to argue it plays a very important role within Sanctification, and once we understand the Blessings of the Recital of Hear properly, we'll be able to understand Sanctification properly also. And all of this weird stuff about glory and holiness and everything, is going to actually make sense to us once we understand Hear and the Blessings of the Recital of Hear properly.
Now, let me finally take you back into the Biblical text, which I think is the key to understanding all of these mysteries in prayer. So back to Biblical text. Let's go back here to the very beginning.
It's the very beginning. I'll read it and here's the insight. Well, I'm not going to get to the insight. I'm just going to get to the question that the insight answers that struck me as we were reading this in synagogue just a few days ago.
What would you say is the most fundamental question that anyone can ask about the story of the six days of creation? You're reading Genesis 1. The most fundamental question, the most bothersome question.
Let me just explain what I mean by question. By question, I'm going to make a distinction between what I call internal questions and external questions. What is the most fundamental internal question you can ask about the six days of creation?
The distinction between internal questions and external questions, my distinction between them, is that external questions are questions that you have that don't fundamentally emerge from the text itself. Just your baggage that you're attaching to the text. An internal question is a question that the text itself is forcing you to ask.
For example, in the Book of Jonah, if you come along and say Rabbi, I don't understand how Jonah made it in the fish alive for three days. How can anybody survive for three days in a fish? I don't understand this whole book. That question can be dismissed, somewhat, in a Jonah class, because it's not an internal question about the Book of Jonah. This guy has baggage; the baggage is I don't believe in miracles. I found a miracle in your book, and now I'm going to make your life hard and harp about miracles.
I don't have a problem with the Book of Jonah. There's nothing in the Book of Jonah that's forcing me to ask this question. The author of the book believes in miracles. That's his worldview. If you accept the worldview of the author, you don't have the question anymore. All right, after class, we can discuss your skepticism about miracles. Very nice. But don't pretend that this question occurred to you because you were reading the Book of Jonah. It's not an internal question.
If, on the other hand, you say, Rabbi, I don't understand. The first thing it says in the Book of Jonah is that the word of God came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, and said go to Nineveh and call out against them. And the second verse says that he ran away to a ship to Jaffa, but it doesn't say why he ran away. Why did he run away? He was a prophet. If you're a prophet, wouldn't you respond? It's a missing motivation, I don't understand. That's a very good question. That question, the text is forcing you to ask. You can't say the prophet got this call, the prophet ran away without somebody asking, why did he run away? That is an internal question that bothers you.
My question is, what is the greatest internal question you can ask that the text itself is, sort of, forcing you to ask when you look at the story of the six days of creation?
I'm going to argue that the most fundamental issue is a version of what Bobby just asked. I'm not going to phrase the question quite the way Bobby did, but I'll give it to you. The question is, what in the world is the deal with these days of creation? Isn't that, like, the most troublesome question?
You're on a plane. Imagine you're on a plane, you're going to Israel. Someone sits down next to you, it's a full flight, and it's this eager beaver studying Bible at McGill University. He says excuse me, are you an Orthodox Jew? Have you studied Bible? You say yes, we study Bible. Oh, that's great. I've always wanted to meet an Orthodox Jew. I love the Bible so much. Very interesting. I am just studying Genesis with my professor. Strange book. Do you mind if I asked you a few questions about Genesis? You look around for another seat, there are no other seats on the plane. You're stuck with Joe, Jim for the next 12 hours. Jim settles in.
So what's the question you're dreading from Jim? This is the question you're dreading. It's, like, I don't know, because in my physics masters' class, I was learning about the age of the universe and everything. I want to take the Bible very seriously. I have great reverence for the Judaic-Christian tradition. But it seems pretty clear that the universe has been around for 13.4 billion years.
It takes a long time. There's hydrogen, these molecules getting together, and the whole system with supernovas and everything. I don't know. I'm reading Genesis, like, six days. I don't get the whole day thing. You really expect me to believe in six days this thing was done? Start to finish, totally done in six days.
Then, what Bobby's thinking is, like, if you want to tell me God can do everything, well, all right, so do the whole thing at once then. Just snap your fingers and make the whole universe. But no, it took Him six days. Obviously, it took Him some time, but not very much time. Just six days.
Wait. Why? Why are You trying to make life so hard for us, us reasonable people who want to defend the Bible? You have to put this in our lap, that we're supposed to somehow defend these days to people, the days of creation? It's, like, God, why do You have to mention the days? Just don't give timeframes. Like, why do that? It seems so pretentious. Why mention these days? And it's such a big deal, these days. "Vayehi erev vayehi boker yom echad … yom sheini." He created everything in six days. Very important these days.
Plus, as if things didn't get any worse, if I'm trying to even defend the idea of days, if Jim on the plane has actually read the Bible, there's going to be a real basic problem with the notion that there are these days, at least the first three of them. Because the sun doesn't show up until day four.
Now the question is, okay, what's the deal with that? Now, this is a real internal question. Because I don't have to be like Mr. Einstein to understand that there's a problem with days if there isn't a sun. It's not like I have to wait for Eisenberg to come along and Knowles and Maxwell's theory of light and everything. I don't need to have a sophisticated understanding of the universe, before I understand that six days is not going to make a lot of sense if the sun didn't show up until day four. Because the whole idea of a day is sun-dependent.
Why is the Bible, with a straight face, talking about all of these days, as if there is totally nothing wrong with the days before there was a sun, moon, and stars? Anybody realizes that's a problem. I'm in 300 BC and I realize that's a problem. Why would the Bible create such problems for its most basic reader with these days of creation?
A lot of ink has been spilled on this question. A lot of modern folks have talked about this question, those seeking to reconcile issues with science and the Bible. One of the more well-known examples of this, these days, is Gerald Schroeder, who wrote a book called Genesis and the Big Bang, in which he tried to come up with a theory for the days of creation, which was quite interesting and novel. Aryeh Kaplan also has a similar idea, where he goes to Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and talks about the six days of creation, tries to reconcile the 13.4 billion years.
Now, I don't have anything in particular against Aryeh Kaplan or Gerald Schroeder. Each of their theories are quite interesting and may well be true, for all I know. But the problem is that they're not pshat (literal meaning). In other words, they are a way of understanding days. Do you understand? But they're not basic, literal meaning.
The problem is, what was forcing the Bible to just say this in the literal meaning? In other words, even if you could come along and tell me that there is some mystical notion of what a day is, such that a day corresponds to 1,000 years, which corresponds to God years, and you'd have your whole calculation that you get to the 13.4 billion years, like Aryeh Kaplan, but what was forcing you to get into that? Why did you even have to talk about these days?
Which, only in this very obscure meaning of the word days that are thought to mean such a thing, or, according to Gerald Schroeder, it's talking about these epochs in the era of the universe, which is really a very ingenious theory. Erev (evening), according to Schroeder, means mixed-up-ness, from the word l'areiv (to mix up). He says evening doesn't really mean evening; it means a mixed-up state of being. Boker (morning), more fundamentally, doesn't mean morning. It comes from levaker or bikoret (clarity), which means to be able to see things clearly. Therefore, there are these six periods of disorder, of evening, followed by order, morning.
This is really pretty ingenious, if you want to talk about these great cosmic timeframes and things like that. Possibly. The problem is, in the literal meaning, it isn't what it means. In the literal meaning, it's talking about days. It's "vayehi erev vayehi boker." It's using language that we all know means days. It's talking about morning, it's talking about evening.
Why did we have to do that? God felt like well, the people in 2019, who finally understand about 13.4 billion years, aren't happy, so I better talk about days now which they're going to figure out means these periods of disorder and order, because otherwise, I won't be telling the truth. Is that it? Or maybe these guys are right, I'm not saying they're wrong, but there has to also be a literal meaning explanation of this that makes sense to normal human beings.
If I'm living in 1300 BC and I haven't read Gerald Schroeder's book, I've got to have a way of understanding what in the world this means, without a sun, that actually makes sense, that I can tell my kids, that actually has some spiritual meaning, has some actual meaning in the world, that isn't going to make me crazy.
What is going on in the literal meaning with these days of creation? That is the question that I want to ask. In my final moment with you, I want to just throw a little adjunct to that question.
There is a phrase which the Bible uses in concert with almost all of the days. When a day is done, what is the phrase the Bible uses to say that? Besides "ki tov." "Ki tov" was the evaluation of it. "Vayehi erev vayehi boker." Whenever you get to the end of the day, "vayehi erev," it was evening, "vayehi boker," it was morning.
This, kind of, adds insult to injury. Because there was no sun, so whatever metaphorical meaning you wanted to come up with, sort of, gets shot to the moon when we say it was evening and it was morning. It sure sounds like a sun to me.
So what does that mean? Why would the Bible have to add insult to injury? Whatever it means by days, why does it have to talk about evenings specifically and mornings? If all you wanted to say is the day is over, just say the day is over. And that was day two. Evening and a morning, when there wasn't really an evening and morning. So what does the evening and morning mean without the sun? What could that possibly mean?
These are the questions that I think are very basic that I have. Just to review. We have some questions about liturgy, questions about the Blessings of the Recital of Hear, questions about the connection between Creator of Light and the Recital of Hear, we have questions about Sanctification, about Hear's connection to all of this. We have the idea of Hear being connected to light, we're not quite sure how. If we go back to the creation story itself, we find ourselves beset with a great deal of questions about these days.
I want to suggest that all of these questions, sort of, answer each other. If we can figure out what the Bible actually does mean by days, and what it does mean by evening and morning, which seem to be light-related words, we will actually find ourselves able to understand the Recital of Hear, the Blessings of the Recital of Hear, and Sanctification. All of the stuff is going to actually make sense.
I think our sages, who wrote the prayer, understood what the days were and they reflected it in their prayers. Sanctification has a very basic, simple meaning, and so does Hear, and so do the Blessings of the Recital of Hear. And days have a very simple meaning. It just requires clearing everything away and getting to what that actually is. We're going to try to get to that next week, so I'll see you then.