The Creation and the Commandments (Part 2)
Last week we began to outline the correspondence between the
Ten Statements of Creation and the Ten Commandments. We got as far as the
The fifth of the Ten Statements is “Let the earth sprout
vegetation: herbage yielding seed, fruit trees yielding fruit each after its
kind, containing its own seed on the earth.” G-d filled the world with
different kinds of living things and wants each of them to prosper. The
corresponding commandment is “Honor your father and your mother.” This
commandment enjoins us to appreciate our kind. Each family has a purpose. Each
family generates and cultivates a different kind of human being. You’re a
Zvulanite? Be proud of it! You’re a Yissacharite? Be proud of it!
The sixth of the Ten Statements is “Let there be luminaries
in the firmament of the heaven…” What’s the main purpose of the sun, the
moons and the stars? Not light, but for calculating time and creating a
calendar. The corresponding commandment is “Don’t murder.” What’s
murder? Taking away somebody’s time.
The seventh of the Ten Statements is “Let the waters teem
with teeming living creatures, and fowl that fly about over the earth across the
expanse of the heavens.” Moreover, “G-d blessed them, saying, Be fruitful
and multiply…” G-d blessed the creatures of the waters and the fowl, but he
did not bless animals with fruitfulness. Why? G-d’s blessing represents his
desire to see a world filled with life. The air is the domain of bird life, so
He blessed the birds. The waters are the domain of the myriad species of
creatures that live in the waters, and He blessed them. But the land is shared
by man and animals. Perhaps he didn’t bless the animals (and did bless man)
because He wants the life which fills the land to be the life of man. He wants
people, not animals, to fill the world. The seventh commandment forbids
adultery. Yes, fill the land with human beings, but do it in the right way.
The eighth of the Ten Statements is “Let the earth bring
forth living creatures…” There is an aspect of man which is animal-like: his
body and his property, which is an extension of his body. This statement
establishes the potential for using the body in the service of G-d. The
corresponding commandment, “Do not steal,” which prohibits kidnapping,
forbids an act of stealing a person’s body in a way that prevents a person
from using it as he should in the service of G-d.
The ninth of the Ten Statements is “Let us make man in our
image…” Now we get to the spiritual side of man. That is why, according to
the Ramban, that it says, “Let us.” G-d said to the earth: you bring forth
the body and into that body I’ll put a neshama. G-d created man in
partnership, so to speak, with the earth, a partnership that was similar to the
partnership between G-d and the parents of the child. The parents bring forth
the body, G-d puts in the neshama. The result is a creature formed in G-d’s
image. What is that image? Truth. Man has a little bit of truth in him. That’s
his neshama. His body is temporal. It’s not real or true in the same way as
his eternal soul. The ninth commandment is not to bear false witness. Man
expresses truth through his speech. If he uses his speech to violate the truth,
his violates the most essential quality of his humanity—that spiritual
element, that bit of truth, which is what distinguishes him from the animals,
formed only from the earth.
The last of the Ten Statements is “It is not good for a
person to be alone.” This world cannot be perfected by individuals. It takes a
group effort: a husband and wife, a community. The tenth commandment is “Do
not be jealous of other people.” Do your part. Don’t duplicate someone
else’s part. Don’t envy another person for his place in the collective
effort to perfect the world. He has his task. You have yours, and your task is
just right for the circumstances of life G-d gave you.
Each of the Ten Commandments directs us to realize the
potential created by the corresponding statement of the Ten Statements of
Creation. G-d created the world from the Torah. The goodness of creation is a
material expression of the goodness of the Torah, though that goodness remains
to be realized, to be activated from the potential state it is in by the
observance of the mitzvos.
The Torah is called a lekach v’tov. It was given to
us to perfect the world, to create Malchus Hashem. It teaches us to how take
from the world all the goodness G-d put into it.