In next week's AppleTree,
announce the winners of our
essay contest, "The Creation
of the World."
11,1 hat a difference a day makes.
Initially, there was nothing — a void.
Then on the first day God created light.
On the second, He made the heavens
and on the third, God created the land and vegetation.
On the fourth day, He made the sun, the moon and the
stars, and on the fifth, God made all the creatures of the
sea and the sky. On the sixth day, God created land ani-
mals, man and woman.
It wasn't just that God made it all, though. He saw
that "it was good."
Life is good, especially during these sweetest days of a
new year, when we begin life all over again. Our past
transgressions are forgiven, and we can start anew. In
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What was it like when the world was created?
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Judaism, it is never too late,
Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world.
Here is how the world got its start.
We know that God took "a day" to create light, the
The first step in considering the beginning of the
world is to understand that a day is not necessarily
a day. It might mean 24 hours, or it might not.
Understanding "a day" as 24 hours is purely a
human concept. It could be that God created
the world in five minutes; it could mean
that yom (Hebrew for "day") meant five
years. We simply don't know.
It's also beyond our abilities to know the
exact manner in which God made the
world. We cannot say, "Well, all these
pieces were sitting around and He put
them together." Nor did God wave a
magic wand and suddenly make stars and
cows appear. Instead, we are told "By the
word of the Lord were the heavens made"
(Psalms 33:6); in other words, God did not
require tools to Make the world. Simply by His
will did the universe come into existence.
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Here is a bit of food for thought about creation:
DAY ONE: God- made the light. The creation of light
has fascinated rabbis throughout history. Some have
suggested that in addition to daylight, God created a
special light "one could see from one end of the world
to the other." Yet He chose to hide away this light, to
save it for righteous souls.
As you begin reading, you'll no doubt notice that the
Torah provides various names for God. Some sources
say this is because each of the names reflects a different
aspect of God: for example, His justice, or His sense of
DAY TWO: God made the heavens. Translations often
say "the firmament of heaven." Likely you've read this
and wondered, "Exactly what is the 'firmament' of
Many years ago, people believed that the skies were of
a solid matter, that they included a "firmament" and
that this vas necessary to hold the stars and planets in
place. Today, we understand that the heavens are not of
"a firmament," but many texts continue to use the
You can read more about creation, and specifically the
heavens, in various sections of the Tanach, including
Amos, Isaiah, Job and especially Psalms.
As you read, keep in mind that scientists and support-
ers of evolution actually have a great deal in common
with biblical scholars. The former often agree with the
order of the world's creation — namely, that light came
first, and afterward land, and then sea animals, etc.
DAY THREE: The plants appear. This has led
some to wonder, then why does the Torah
say that Adam was in a barren
Rashi [Rabbi Shlomo ben-
Isaac, c. 1040-1105] explained
that the greenery was created on
the third day, but nowhere does it
say that these blossomed on that
(Rashi postulated that the blossoms
actually began to appear on the sixth
day of creation). Nachmanides [Rabbi
Moses ben Nachman, 1194-1270], on the other hand,
said that God first created the "plants of the earth," or
wild growth, while another time he created plants that
depended on man's nurturing for existence.
DAY FOUR: God made the sun and the moon and the
planets. A legend has it that originally the sun and
moon were the same size.
The moon insisted on being made larger, though; to
keep the moon humble, God made it the smaller of the
DAY FIVE: In addition to making birds and animals of