The New Perfect

October 27, 2016 at 1:52 PM , ,

“…And G-d blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it he abstained from all his work that g-d created to do…” – Bereishit 2:3

וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹקִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אֱלֹקִים לַעֲשׂוֹת – בראשית ב, ג

On the seventh day from the start of Creation, G-d rested from His creation of the world—“His work that G-d created to do.”

What is the meaning of this phrase? Would it not have been more accurate to refer to creation as the work “that G-d created and did”?

The Midrash explains that indeed G-d created the world “to do”—i.e., to be perfected by humankind. In the words of the Midrash, “Anything created in the six days of Creation requires enhancement” (see Bereishis Rabbah 11:6 and commentaries).

This perspective seems to contradict the oft-repeated teaching of our sages that the world was entirely perfect and complete upon Creation (see Bereishis Rabbah 14:7, 12:6, and 13:3). Which one is it? Was the world perfect upon creation, or does it require further improvement—“to do”?

the-new-perfect

These two views are not contradictory, however, when we consider the context of the verse that refers to Creation as the work “that G-d created to do”—a verse which speaks about the seventh day, Shabbos.

In the first six days of Creation, the Creation met all “expectations”; it was perfect and complete. When the seventh day arrived, however, and G-d sanctified it as Shabbos, the additional holiness drawn into the world made it suddenly possible for the world to attain greater heights that it had been capable of prior, rendering the its initial state of perfection as deficient. Thus began the requirement for humankind “to do”—to bring the creation to its newly endowed potential; for greater potential obligates greater responsibility and accomplishment.

 

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 25, pp. 14-17

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