G-d created the world with Ten Statements and gave us the Ten Commandments.
There is a correlation between the two. Each of the Ten Commandments fulfils the
potential established by a corresponding creative Statement.
The first of the Ten Statements is “In the beginning G-d created the heaven
and the earth. There are nine statements which begin with the word vayomer.
Chazal refer to one of them—this first statement—as a dibur. Why?
Because this first statement has the quality of dibur in that, while
establishing the potential, it also establishes the purpose of creation, as
Rashi explains: “What is ‘Bereishis’? For the sake of the Torah,
which is called Reishis, and for the sake of Yisrael, which is
called Reishis.” Heaven is the spiritual aspect of Creation. It was
created for the Torah. The earth was created for Yisrael. The purpose of
creation is that Torah and Yisrael should become as one in the recognition of
What is the first of the Ten Commandments? I am Hashem your G-d who took you
out of the land of Egypt. Just as the purpose of the creation was the
recognition of G-d, so the Ten Commandments begins with the mitzvah of emunah.
And just as the first of the Ten Statements refers to Heaven and earth, the
first of the Ten Commandments refers to Hashem and the land—the land of Egypt.
The first of the Ten Commandments is a direct command to fulfill the potential
created by the first of the Ten Creative Statements.
The second creative Statement is “Let there be light” and “G-d
separated between the light and the darkness.” If there were no yetzer hora,
if there were no darkness, there would be no free choice and no reward. The
first Statement established the potential and the purpose, the second statement
establishes the conditions under which this potential can be fulfilled in a way
that enhances the stature of man, for it is only his freedom to turn to the
Darkness that confers merit on his choice of the Light.
The second of the Ten Commandments forbids idolatry. This commandment
addresses the Jewish People in their experience of the possibility of choosing
the Darkness. It determines their purpose and directs them to the Light. The
second creative Statement established the potential for Darkness. The second
commandment forbids us to realize that potential into a reality by worshipping
The third Statement of creation is “Let there be a firmament in the midst
of the waters, and let it separate between water and water.” This firmament is
the sky. It is rather something that established a boundary between the physical
and the spiritual dimensions. There is a spiritual world and a physical world.
The spiritual world is not up there somewhere on Mars—that’s part of the
physical world. The spiritual world is another dimension. It exists parallel to
our dimension the physical dimension in which we live. Now, besides good and
bad, G-d also created the sacred and the profane. The profane is not bad, it’s
just not holy. Our choice is not just to do good and not do bad, but to take the
good and make it holy. That’s a higher level and establishes a new level of
The third of the Ten Commandments forbids us to take the name of G-d in vain.
The third Statement established the domains of the sacred and the profane, the
third Commandment prohibits us from taking the sacred and making it profane.
The fourth of the Ten Statements is “Let the waters beneath the heaven be
gathered into one area and let the dry land appear.” The dry land is where
human beings live. Dry land represents the potential for the creation of human
societies and all the human achievement which goes with it. The fourth of the
Ten Commandments commands us to keep the Shabbos. It affirms our creative and
constructive activity, but requires us to rest from that activity on the seventh
day and 1) to remember that G-d created the world—that we act within a
framework that G-d created, that for all our creative activity, we do not create
the basic parameters of our lives; and 2) that there is a higher purpose to our
lives. Just as the six days of the week culminate in the Shabbos, the work we do
during those six days should be directed to a higher purpose of kedushah.
Next Week: The Creation and the Commandments (Part II)