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Steinsaltz

The Gemara poses a question: Now that it is derived from the phrase “from one end of the heavens to the other,” why do I need the phrase “since the day that God created man upon the earth”?

The Gemara answers that this phrase teaches us something else, according to Rabbi Elazar. As Rabbi Elazar said: The height of Adam the first man reached from the ground to the skies, as it is stated: “Since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from one end of the heavens” (Deuteronomy 4:32). When he sinned, the Holy One, Blessed be He, placed His hand upon him and diminished him, as it is stated: “You fashioned me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me” (Psalms 139:5).

Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: The size of Adam the first man was from one end of the world to the other, as it is stated: “Since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from one end of the heavens to the other,” which indicates that he spanned the entire length of the world. Once he sinned, the Holy One, Blessed be He, placed His hand upon him and diminished him, as it states: “And laid Your hand upon me.”

The Gemara asks: If so, the two parts of the verse contradict each other, since one indicates that his height reached the heavens while the other says it reached the end of the earth. The Gemara answers: Both this and that are one, the same, measure.

§ The Gemara continues to discuss Creation: Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: Ten things were created on the first day of Creation, and they are as follows: Heaven and earth; tohu and vohu, i.e., unformed and void; light and darkness; wind and water; the length of day and the length of night.

All of these are derived from the Torah: Heaven and earth, as it is written: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Tohu and vohu, as it is written: “And the earth was unformed and void [tohu vavohu]” (Genesis 1:2). Light and darkness; darkness, as it is written: “And darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2); light, as it is written: “And God said: Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). Wind and water, as it is written: “And the wind of God hovered over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The length of day and the length of night, as it is written: “And there was evening, and there was morning, one day” (Genesis 1:5).

It was taught in the Tosefta: Tohu is a green line that encompasses the entire world, and from which darkness emerges, as it is stated: “He made darkness His hiding place round about Him” (Psalms 18:12), indicating that a line of darkness surrounds the world. Vohu; these are damp stones submerged in the depths, from which water emerges, as it is stated: “And He shall stretch over it the line of tohu and stones of vohu (Isaiah 34:11), which demonstrates that tohu is a line and that vohu is referring to stones.

The Gemara poses a question: And was light created on the first day? But isn’t it written: “And God set them in the firmament of the heaven” (Genesis 1:17), and it is also written: “And there was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day” (Genesis 1:19), indicating that light was created on the fourth day.

The Gemara answers: This should be understood in accordance with Rabbi Elazar, as Rabbi Elazar said: The light that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created on the first day was not that of the sun but a different kind of light, through which man could observe from one end of the world to the other. But when the Holy One, Blessed be He, looked upon the generation of the Flood and the generation of the Dispersion and saw that their ways were corrupt and that they might misuse this light for evil, He arose and concealed it from them, as it is stated: “And from the wicked their light is withheld” (Job 38:15).

And for whom did He conceal it? For the righteous people in the future, as it is stated: “And God saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis 1:4), and “good” is referring to none other than the righteous, as it is stated: “Say of the righteous that it shall be good for them, for they shall eat the fruit of their actions” (Isaiah 3:10).

When the light saw that it had been concealed for the righteous, it rejoiced, as it is stated: “The light for the righteous shall rejoice” (Proverbs 13:9).

The Gemara comments: This is like a dispute between tanna’im: The light that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created on the first day was so profound that man could observe through it from one end of the world to the other; this is the statement of Rabbi Ya’akov. And the Rabbis say: This light is the very same as the lights created on the first day, but they were not suspended in their designated places in the firmament until the fourth day.

§ Rav Zutra bar Tuvya said that Rav said: The world was created through ten attributes: Through wisdom, through understanding, through knowledge, through strength, through rebuke, through might, through righteousness, through justice, through kindness, and through mercy.

Scriptural proof is provided for this statement as follows: It was created through wisdom and through understanding, as it is written: “The Lord founded earth with wisdom, and established the heavens with understanding” (Proverbs 3:19); through knowledge, as it is written: “With His knowledge the depths were broken up” (Proverbs 3:20); through strength and through might, as it is written: “Who by Your strength sets fast the mountains, who is girded about with might” (Psalms 65:7); through rebuke, as it is written: “The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at His rebuke” (Job 26:11); through righteousness and justice, as it is written: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne” (Psalms 89:15); through kindness and mercy, as it is written: “Remember Your mercies, O Lord, and Your kindnesses, for they are from times of old” (Psalms 25:6).

And Rav Yehuda said that Rav said, with regard to the same matter: When the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world, it continued to expand like two balls of a warp, whose cord lengthens as they unravel, until the Holy One, Blessed be He, rebuked it and made it stand still, as it is stated: “The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at His rebuke” (Job 26:11). And this is the same as that which Reish Lakish said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “I am the Almighty God [El Shaddai]” (Genesis 17:1)? It means: I am He Who said to the world “enough [dai],” instructing it to stop expanding. Similarly, Reish Lakish said: When the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the sea, it continued to expand until the Holy One, Blessed be He, rebuked it and made it dry, as it is stated: “He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and desiccates all the rivers” (Nahum 1:4).

§ Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel dispute the order of Creation, as the Sages taught: Beit Shammai say: The heavens were created first and afterward the earth was created, as it is stated: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), which indicates that heaven came first. And Beit Hillel say: The earth was created first, and heaven after it, as it is stated: “On the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven” (Genesis 2:4).

Beit Hillel said to Beit Shammai: According to your words, does a person build a second floor and build the first floor of the house afterward? As it is stated: “It is He Who builds His upper chambers in the heaven, and has founded His vault upon the earth” (Amos 9:6), indicating that the upper floor, heaven, was built above the earth. Beit Shammai said to Beit Hillel: According to your words, does a person make a stool for his feet, and make a seat afterward? As it is stated: “So said the Lord: The heavens are My seat, and the earth My footstool” (Isaiah 66:1). But the Rabbis say: Both this and that were created as one, for it is stated: “Indeed, My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand up together” (Isaiah 48:13), implying that they were created as one.

The Gemara asks: And the others, Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, what, in their opinion, is the meaning of “together”? The Gemara responds: It means that they do not separate from each other. In other words, the term “together” is referring not to the moment of their creation but to the manner of their positioning. The Gemara comments: In any case, the verses contradict each other, as heaven is sometimes mentioned first, while on other occasions earth is listed beforehand. Reish Lakish said: When they were created, He first created the heavens and afterward created the earth, but when He spread them out and fixed them in their places, He spread out the earth and afterward He spread out the heavens.

Incidental to the above, the Gemara asks: What is the meaning and source of the word “heaven” [shamayim]? Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: It is an acronym, shesham mayim, meaning: That water is there. It was taught in a baraita: Shamayim means esh umayim, fire and water, which teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, brought them both and combined them together, and made the firmament from them.

§ The Gemara relates: Rabbi Yishmael asked Rabbi Akiva a question when they were walking along the way. He said to him: You who served Naḥum of Gam Zu for twenty-two years, who would expound and learn that every appearance of the word et in the Torah is meant to teach something, what would he expound from the phrase: “The heaven and the earth” [et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz] (Genesis 1:1)? He said to him: These words should be expounded as follows: Had it stated: In the beginning God created hashamayim veha’aretz, i.e., the heaven and the earth, without the word et, I would have said: Shamayim is the name of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and the same goes for aretz, and the verse would sound as if it meant that God, whose name is Shamayim and Aretz, created the world. Since it states “et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz,” it is clear that these are created objects and that shamayim means the actual heaven and aretz is the actual earth. It is for this reason that the word et is necessary.

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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