The great Rabbi Hoshaya opened [with the verse (Mishlei 8:30),] "I [the Torah] was an amon to Him and I was a plaything to Him every day." Amon means "pedagogue" (i.e. nanny). Amon means "covered." Amon means "hidden." And there is one who says amon means "great." Amon means "nanny," as in (Bamidbar 11:12) “As a nanny (omein) carries the suckling child." Amon means "covered," as in (Eichah 4:5) "Those who were covered (emunim) in scarlet have embraced refuse heaps." Amon means "hidden," as in (Esther 2:7) "He hid away (omein) Hadassah." Amon means "great," as in (Nahum 3:8) "Are you better than No-amon [which dwells in the rivers]?" which the Targum renders as, "Are you better than Alexandria the Great (amon), which dwells between the rivers?" Alternatively, amon means "artisan." The Torah is saying, "I was the artisan's tool of Hashem." In the way of the world, a king of flesh and blood who builds a castle does not do so from his own knowledge, but rather from the knowledge of an architect, and the architect does not build it from his own knowledge, but rather he has scrolls and books in order to know how to make rooms and doorways. So too Hashem gazed into the Torah and created the world. Similarly the Torah says, "Through the reishis Hashem created [the heavens and the earth]," and reishis means Torah, as in "Hashem made me [the Torah] the beginning (reishis) of His way" (Mishlei 8:22).
Rabbi Yehoshua of Sichnin in the name of Rabbi Levi opened [with the verse (Tehillim 111:6),] "The power of His works he told to His people [Yisrael]." Why did Hashem reveal to Yisrael that which was created on the first day, and the second day [and so forth]? Because of the idolaters - so that they will not embitter Yisrael and say to them, "Are you not a nation of thieves?" And Yisrael would reply to them, saying, "Aren't your own lands stolen? Didn't (Devarim 2:23) 'The Caphtorim emerge from Caphtor and destroy [the Aviyim] and settle in their stead?' [Furthermore,] the entire world belongs to Hashem; thus, when it pleased Him, He gave it to you, and when it pleased Him, He took it from you and gave it to us." As it is written (Tehillim 111:6), "[In order] to give them an inheritance of the nations," He told [Yisrael] all of the generations.
"In the beginning God created..." Rabbi Tanchuma opened [with the verse (Psalms 86:10),] "For You are great, and you perform wonders...." Rabbi Tanchum said: with a pouch, if you puncture a hole in its side with a pin, all its air comes out of it. Whereas the person is made with all kinds of hollows and holes, and his air does not leave his body. Who could make such a thing? "....You, God, alone."[the second half of the verse] When were the angels created? Rabbi Yochanan said: the angels were created on the second day. Just as it says (in Psalms 104:4), "He sets the rafters of the upper chambers in the water..." [creating the sky in the upper waters which God does on the second day] and then it is written, "He makes the winds his messengers (or, 'his angels')." Rabbi Chanina said: the angels were created on the fifth day, where it is written "and let the bird fly (ye-ofef) across the earth," and (in Isaiah 6:2) it is written, "and with two [wings] he (the Seraphic angel) would fly (ye-ofef)." Rabbi Luliana bar Tavrin said in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak: whether according to the opinion of Rabbi Chanina, or whether according to the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan, all agree that they were not created on the first day - so that they could not say that the angl Michael stretched out the south end of the sky and Gabriel the north end, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, measured out the middle. Rather, (as it says in Isaiah 44:24), "I am God who makes all, and who alone stretches out the heavens...with only Myself (me-iti)" 'Mi iti' (who, with me) is written, meaning, "WHO partnered WITH ME in the creation of the world?!?" Another interpretation: "For You are great and You do wonders..." It is the way of the world that a king of flesh and blood is praised in the land, and the great men of the land are praised with him, for they carry his burden with him. But the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not like this. Rather, He alone created the world. He alone is praised in the world. He alone is glorified in his world. Rabbi Tanchuma said: "For you are great and You do wonders..." Why? Because, "...You, God, alone." You, alone, created the world.
"In the beginning of God's creating..." - Six things preceded the creation of the world; some of them were created and some of them were decided to be created. The Torah and the Throne of Glory were created. How do we know the Torah was? As it says (Proverbs 8:22): "God made me at the beginning of his way." How do we know the Throne of Glory was? As it says (Psalms 93:2): "Your throne is established as of old etc." The Patriarchs, Israel, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah were decided to be created. How do we know the Patriarchs were? As it says (Hosea 9:10): "Like grapes in the wilderness etc." How do we know Israel was? As it says (Psalms 74:2): "Remember your congregation, whom you purchased from old." How do we know the Temple was? As it says (Jeremiah 17:12): "Your throne of glory, on high from the beginning etc." How do we know the name of the Messiah was? As it says (Psalms 72:17): "May his name exist forever etc. [his name shall be Yinnon as long as the sun]." Rabbi Ahavah said in the name of Rabbi Ze'ira: Even repentance was, as it says (Psalms 90:2): "Before the mountains were birthed," and at the same time (Psalms 90:3), "You turned man to contrition etc." However, I do not know which was first--if the Torah preceded the Throne of Glory or the Throne of Glory preceded the Torah. Rabbi Abba Bar Cahana said: The Torah preceded the Throne of Glory, as it says (Proverbs 8:22): "God made me at the beginning of his way, the first of his works of old." This is before that of which it is written (Psalms 93:2): "Your throne is established as of old." Rabbi Hunna and Rabbi Yirmiyah in the name of Rabbi Shmuel the son of Rabbi Yitzchak said: The thought of Israel was before everything. This is like a king who was married to a woman and did not have a son. One time the king was in the market and said: "Take this ink and pen for my son." They said: "He does not have a son." He replied: "Take them; the king must expect a son, because otherwise he would not command that the ink and pen be taken." Similarly, if there was no expectation of Israel receiving it after 26 generations, God would not have written in the Torah: "Command the children of Israel" or "Speak to the children of Israel." Rabbi Bannai said: The world and its contents were only created in the merit of the Torah, as it says (Proverbs 3:19): "God founded the world with wisdom etc." Rabbi Berachiyah said: In the merit of Moses, as it says (Deuteronomy 33:21): "He saw a first part for himself." Rabbi Hunna said in the name of Rabbi Matanah: The world was created in the merit of three things--challah, tithes, and first fruits. The verse "In the beginning God created" refers to challah, as it says (Numbers 15:20): "The beginning of your doughs." It also refers to tithes, as it says (Deuteronomy 18:4): "The beginning of your grains." It also refers to first fruits, as it says (Exodus 23:19): "The beginning of the fruits of the land."
Rabbi Hunna in the name of Bar Kafra opened with (Psalms 31:19): "Let the lying lips be dumb, that speak against the righteous arrogantly with pride and contempt." Let them be bound, made dumb, and silenced. "Let them be bound and made dumb"--as it says (Exodus 4:11): "Or who made one mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Was it not I, God?" and it says (Genesis 37:7): "We were binding sheaves in the field, and my sheaf rose." (The word for 'sheaf' is similar to 'mute'.) "Let them be silenced"--as it sounds. "Which speak against the righteous"--the life of all worlds (God). "Arrogantly"--[on matters] he has hidden from his creatures (The word for 'arrogant' is similar to 'hidden'). "In pride"--to boast and say: "I can explain creation." "And contempt"--to hold My glory in contempt. As Rabbi Yossi Bar Chanina said: One who honor's oneself at the expense of one's friend has no share in the World to Come. How much more so with the honor of God! And it says afterward (Psalms 31:20): "How abundant is Your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear You." Those who fear You and not for those who hold Your awe in contempt. When a king builds a palace in a place of sewers, dunghills, and garbage, everyone who says: "This palace is built on sewers, dunghills, and garbage" discredits it. So too, everyone who says the universe was created from nothingness discredits it. Rabbi Hunna in the name of Bar Kafra said: If it were not written, it would be impossible to say it. "In the beginning God created" from what? "And the earth was empty."
Rabbi Yehudah Bar Simon opened with (Daniel 2:22): "He reveals the deep and secret. He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him." "He reveals the deep"--this is Hell, as it says (Proverbs 9:18): "He does not know there are spirits there," and it says (Isaiah 30:33): "deep and large". "And secret"--this is Paradise, as it says (Isaiah 4:6): "for a cover and refuge from storm and rain," and it says (Psalms 31:21): "You hide them in the cover of Your presence." Alternatively, "he reveals the deep and secret"--these are the acts of the wicked, as it says (Isaiah 29:15): "Woe to the ones who seek deep from God to make their counsel secret." "And secret"--these are the acts of the wicked, as the verse states. "He knows what is in the dark"--these are the acts of the wicked, as it says in Isaiah: "Their acts are in the dark." "The light dwells with Him"--these are the acts of the righteous, as it is written (Proverbs 4:18): "The path of the righteous is like the light at dawn," and it says (Psalms 97:11): "Light is sown for the righteous." Rabbi Abba Srungia said: "The light dwells with Him"--this is the Messiah, as it says (Isaiah 60:1): "Arise, shine, for your light has come." Rabbi Yehudah Bar Simon said: From the beginning of the creation of the world, "he revealed the dark and secret". "In the beginning God created the heavens," but it is not explained. Where is it explained? Here (Isaiah 40:22): "He stretches out the heavens like a curtain." "And the land," but it is not explained. Where is it explained? Here (Job 37:6): "For He says to the snow: 'Fall on the earth.'" and (Job 38:38) "When the dust runs into a mass, and the clods cleave together." "And God said: 'Let there be light,'" and it is not explained. Where is it explained? (Psalms 104:2) "You cover Yourself with light like a garment."
Rabbi Yitzchak opened with (Psalms 119:160): "The beginning of Your word is truth, and Your righteous law is forever." Rabbi Yitzchak said: From the beginning of the creation of the world "the beginning of Your word is truth." "In the beginning God created"--(Jeremiah 10:10) "Your God is true." "And Your righteous law is forever"--that for every restriction that you place on your creations, they affirm the righteousness of your judgement and accept it with faith. No creation can say that two powers created the world. It is not written: "the gods spoke", but rather: "God spoke". It is not written: "the gods said", but rather: "God said". It is not written: "in the beginning the gods created", but rather: "God created".
Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi said in the name of Rabbi Levi: Six things are required for building--water, dirt, wood, stone, rods, and iron. If you say he is rich, and does not need rods, he still needs measuring rods, as it says (Ezekiel 40:3): "with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring rod". The Torah preceded these with six--"the first", "of old", "forever", "from the start", and "from the first" which is two, in the portion (Proverbs 8:22-23): "God made me as the beginning of His way, the first of His works of old. I was set up forever, from the start, from the first of the Earth."
A philosopher once asked Rabbah Gamliel and said to him, ''Your God is only a great artist because he found great materials that helped him: tohu and vohu, darkness, spirit, water, and the depths." Rabbi Gamliel responded to him: "Your spirit should blow! Regarding all of them, the term 'creation' is written: tohu and vohu, as it says (Isaiah 45:7), 'He makes peace and creates evil'; darkness, 'He fashions light and creates darkness'; water (Tehillim 148:5), 'Praise the heavens and the waters' - why? - for 'He commanded and they were created'; spirit (Amos 4:13), 'For behold he fashions mountains and creates spirit'; the depths (Mishlei 8:24), 'When there were no depths, I was created.'"
Rabbi Yonah said in the name of Rabbi Levi: Why was the world created with a "bet"? Just as a bet is closed on all sides and open in the front, so you are not permitted to say, "What is beneath? What is above? What came before? What will come after?" Rather from the day the world was created and after. Bar Kappara said: "You have but to inquire about bygone ages that came before you [ever since God created humanity on earth]" (Deuteronomy 4:32). From the moment God created them you may speculate, however you may not speculate on what was before that. ["From one end of Heaven to the other"] on this you may speculate and investigate, but you may not speculate and investigate on what was before. Rabbi Yehudah ben Pazzi explained the Creation story according to Bar Kappara: Why was the world created with a "bet"? To teach you there are two worlds: this world and the world-to-come. Another interpretation: Why with a "bet"? Because it is an expression of "blessing." And why not with an "aleph"? Because it is an expression of "cursing." Another interpretation: Why not with an "aleph"? So as not to give an argument to the heretics, who would say 'how could the world endure since it was created with an expression of curse?' Rather, the Holy One of Blessing said: 'behold I create it with an expression of blessing, and hopefully it will endure.' Another interpretation: Why with a "bet"? The bet has two points, one on its top and one behind it, they say to the "bet": 'who created you?' and he points with his point on top, and says: 'the One Above created me'. 'And what is His name?' and he shows with his point of behind, and says 'Hashem is His name.' Said Rabbi Eleazar Bar Chanina in the name of Rabbi Acha: for 26 generations the "aleph" screamed 'injustice!' in front of the throne of the Holy One of Blessing, saying to Him: 'Master of the Universe! I am the first of the letters and You did not create the world with me!' The Holy One of Blessing said to her [the aleph]: the world and all what it contains were only created due to the merit of Torah, as it is written: "Ad-nai set the earth with wisdom [with understanding He established the heaven]" (Mishlei/Prov 3:19). Tomorrow I come to give Torah at Sinai and I am going to open at first instance only with you, as it says Anochi 'I am Ad-nai your God' (Exodus/Shemot 20:2). Rabbi Hoshaya says: Why is its name "aleph"? Because he agrees from the outset [aleph], as it says " the word which He commanded to a thousand [eleph] generations."
R. Simon said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: Manzapak [מנצפ"ך] is a Mosaic halahhah from Sinai. R, Jeremiah said in the name of R. Hiyya b. Abba: They are what the zofim [i.e. prophets] instituted. It once happened on a stormy day that the Sages did not attend the House of Assembly [i.e. the Academy]. Some children were there and they said, 'Come and let us make a House of Assembly. Why are there written [two different forms when the following letters come in the middle or end of a word respectively] mem [מ] mem [ם], nun [נ] nun [ן], tzadi [צ], tzadi [ץ], pai [פ] pai [ף]? It teaches [that the Torah was transmitted] from utterance [מאמר] to utterance, from Faithful [נאמן] to faithful, from Righteous [צדיק] to righteous, from mouth [פה] to mouth, and from hand [כף] to hand. From utterance to utterance — from the utterance of the Holy One, blessed be He, to the utterance of Moses. From Faithful to faithful— from theAlmighty, who is designated, "God, faithful King," to Moses, who is designated faithful, as it is written, "He [Moses] is faithful in all My house" (Numbers 12:7). From Righteous to righteous— from God, who is designated righteous, as it is written, "The Lord is righteous in all His ways" (Psalms 145:17), to Moses who is designated righteous, as it is written, "He executed the righteousness of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 33:21). From mouth to mouth — from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, to the mouth of Moses. From hand to hand: from the hand of the Holy One, blessed be He, to the hand of Moses. They completed them and they grew to be great sages in Israel; some say that they were R. Eliezer, R. Joshua and R. Akiba. They applied to them the verse, "Even a child is known by his doings, etc." (Proverbs 20:11).
Rabbi Yudan in the name of Akilus said: for Him, it is appropriate to call Him God; according to the custom in the world, a king of flesh and blood is honored in [his] domain, even at the point when he has not established amenities at public expense for it, and even at the point when he has not built amenities at private expense for it; first, he recites his name, and then his creation. But for the Unique One of the universe, first He formed and then He was named. Shimon the son of Azzai said (2 Samuel 22:36) "your condescension has made me great"; a flesh and blood [human] recites his name and afterwards such-and-such his title, [i.e.] X the Augustalis, or X whatever his title (pro titulo). But the Holy One, blessed be He does not act this way; only after He created the necessities of his world, then He recites his name: [which is why] "In the beginning he created" [comes first] and only afterwards "God".
The tana, Rabbi Shimon son of Yochai: From where [is it] that a man must not say "a burnt offering (olah) to Hashem", "to Hashem as a meal-offering (minchah)", "a peace offering (shelamim) to Hashem"? We have learned to say: [When any one of you brings] an offering (qorban) unto Hashem (Leviticus 1:2). See! The words are an a fortiori (qal vechomer) inference: If when one is going to dedicate [an offering] the Torah says: he should not cause the name of Heaven to be associated [with anything besides a qorban], then they who revile and blaspheme and engage in idolatry, how very greatly they will be erased from the world! The rabbis said: flesh and blood builds a building, and when the building rises under his hand, he widens it as it rises, and if not, he widens it from below and makes it narrow at the top. But the Holy One, blessed be He does not act this way; rather [he created] "the heavens", heavens which rose by His thought, "and the earth" which rose by his thought. Rav Huna in the name of Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Yose the Galilean said: "even those about which it is written: "Now behold, I create a new heaven" (Isaiah 65:17); already these were created since the six days of creation. This is what is written: "For as the new heavens and the new earth [which I will make, shall remain before Me] (Isaiah 66:22), here "new" (hadashah) is not written, but rather "the new" (hachadashah).
Rabbi Yishmael asked Rabbi Akiva and said to him "seeing as you served Nahum, the man from Gamzu, twenty two years, [who teaches that] ach and raq are [hermeneutic tools for] dimunition (mi'ut) and et and gam are [tools for] expansion (ribuy) what is your opinion on the et written here; what is it?" and he said to him: "if it was said "in the beginning God created heavens and earth" we would say that the heavens and the earth are divinities." He said to him ""for this is no empty thing for you" (Deuteronomy 32:47) and if it seems empty to you, then it is because you do not know to interpret correctly when you are not careful with it "for it is your life" (Deuteronomy 32:47). When is it your life? When you are careful with it." But, et the heavens, [this et] expands to include the sun and moon and zodiac signs, and et the earth, [this et] expands to include the trees and grass and the Garden of Eden. Rabbi Tanchuma from Rav Huna said "And Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur from the tribe of Judah made what Moses commanded him" (Exodus 38:22), does it not say "et all which Hashem commanded Moses", even the words which he did not hear from the mouth of his master, he planned his judgment from what was spoken to Moses on Sinai. Rabbi Chonya in the name of Rabbi said ""The Torah of truth was from his mouth" (Malachi 2:6) these are the words which he heard from the mouth of his master". And the rabbis said "For Hashem will be your confidence" (Proverbs 3:26), even though you are confident in them, "He will guard your foot from being caught" (Proverbs 3:26)". Rabbi Dosai said "from erroneous decisions". Rabbi Abbahu said "from sin". Rabbi Levi said "from harm". Said Rabbi Avdimus "if you gave charity from your money, the Holy One, blessed be He, guards you from tariffs and from fines, from head-taxes and from forced contributions".
Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel: Beit Shammai said the heavens were created first and after that the earth was created. And Beit Hillel said the earth was created first and afterwards the heavens. From one point of view the former had reason for their words, and from another point of view the latter had reason for their words. According to the view of Beit Shammai in that they said the heavens were created first and the earth later, was the parable of a king who made a throne for himself, and then he made his footstool, as the Holy One, blessed be He said "The heavens are my throne and the earth is the footstool of my feet" (Isaiah 46:1). According to the view of Beit Hillel in that they said the earth was created first and the heavens created afterwards, was the parable of a king who built a palace; after he built the lower portions then he built the upper portions, thus "In the day that the Hashem God made earth and heaven" (Genesis 2:4). Rabbi Judah bar Ilai said "this verse supports Beit Hillel "before you founded the earth" (Psalms 120:26) and [the verse supporting] afterwards "and the heavens are the work of your hands" (Psalms 120:26)". Rabbi Chanin said "from the text that was cited supporting Beit Shammai, from there Beit Hillel refute them: "and the earth was" (Genesis 1:2), the earth was already extant". Rabbi Yochanan in the name of the sages said "regarding the creation the heavens were first, and regarding completion the earth was first". Rabbi Tanchuma said "I will tell the reasons for this; regarding creation the heavens were first, as it is said "In the beginning God created" (Genesis 1:1), and regarding completion the earth was first, as it is said "In the day that the Hashem God made earth and heaven" (Genesis 2:4)". Rabbi Shimon son of Yochai said "I am amazed at how the fathers of the world, Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, were divided on the creation of the heavens and the earth, I would say to both of them that they were not created, but were like a stew pot and like its lid, as it is said "I call unto them, they stood up together" (Isaiah 48: 13)"". Said Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Shimon "if it is according to the opinion of my father, why in one place does the earth precede the heavens and in the other place the heavens precede the earth? This teaches that they both have weight on either side (are equal). In every place Abraham precedes Isaac and Jacob, and in one place it says "and I will remember my covenant with Jacob" (Leviticus 26:42); this teaches that they both have weight on either side (are equal). In every place Moses precedes Aaron, and it one place it says "That is Aaron and Moses" (Exodus 6:26); this teaches that they both have weight on either side (are equal). In every place Joshua precedes Caleb, and in one place it says "except for Caleb the son of Jephuneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun" (Numbers 14:30); this teaches that they both have weight on either side (are equal). In every place the turtle-dove precedes the young pigeons and in one place, it says "and a young pigeon, or a turtle-dove for a sin offering" (Leviticus 12:6); this teaches that they both have weight on either side (are equal). And in every place the respect for a father precedes that of a mother, and in one place it says "You shall fear every man his mother, and his father" (Leviticus 19:3); this teaches that they both have weight on either side (are equal)." But the sages said: "the father precedes the mother because he and his mother are obliged to honor his father." In every place the creation of the heaven precedes the earth, and in one place it says "In the day that the Hashem God made earth and heaven" (Genesis 2:4); this tells us that they both have weight on either side (are equal).
heavens alone; that spread abroad the earth by Myself —
me-itti (ib. xliv, 24) : mi itti (who was with Me) is written :
who was associated with Me in the creation of the world ?
Ordinarily, a mortal king is honoured in his realm and the
great men of the realm are honoured with him. Wherefore ?
Because they bear the burden [of state] with him.