Baruch She-amar v’haya ha-olam God spoke, and the world existed. (morning liturgy)
“B’reishit bara Elohim et hashamayim v’et ha’aretz” (Genesis 1:1) With beginnings God created the heavens and the earth.
So after all the celebrations, we begin again with Creation. And God said, Let there be light! and there was light… it was good! What a powerful, puzzling statement: with words begins the universe? How is that even possible, and what language could that be – so powerfully creative?
Five possibilities in this post.
First possibility: the words are mathematics: e=mc2or f=ma or pv=nrt…. the language of the universe’s physical laws, upon which so many things stem. These are laws of relationship, how one part of the universe is connected to another. For example according to e=mc2 matter is actually energy, congealed, related somehow to the speed of light, (which is also, somehow, a cosmic speed limit). Relationships are also part of the essence of Torah: linking you and me to the universe, and to God, it’s creative power, linking human beings to the natural world, linking family members, friends, enemies, nations. Math and Torah: both exist in relationships, the spaces in between, it’s where creation happens.
Second possibility: Could the language of God be Hebrew letters? R. Douglas Goldhammer, Skokie Ill, wrote a wonderful Kabbalistic vision of the language of God this week in Ten Minutes of Torah http://urj.org/learning/torah/ he writes: …imagine God sitting in front of a cosmic typewriter, punching the keys of the different letters of the Hebrew alphabet and watching the world come into being. God punched in the word adamah and the earth was formed. When the earth was formed, it was made up not only of molecules, atoms, and quarks, but also of the Hebrew letters that make up the word adamah. The ground, or the earth, was made up of infinitely small alefs, dalets, mems, and heis. Remove these constituent letters and everything comes tumbling down….. Each one of these Hebrew letters has a different cosmic energy force that God used to create the earth and its moveable parts. Poetry or anthropomorphism? and why Hebrew? AH, why indeed! Hebrew letters are also numbers, as all fans of gematria know. (Gematria takes the numerical value of words, and finds deep insights connecting these numbers to the concepts of the word) Each word has a numerical as well as symbolic and aural meaning. What better language than Hebrew to have the power of creation: the symbolism of ideas, the sounds of our hearts, and the mathematics all rolled into one language! Pure poetry, and creatively powerful. And upon what parchment is this language written? We know now that space is not empty, that the lowest energy state of space is a Higgs field, which gives photons mass as they interact with the field, zooming around at the speed of light! Perhaps it is upon this creative background on which God “typed” instructions!
Third possibility: maybe the language of God is light itself, or life itself. An excerpt from Beth Schafer’s The Word bethschafer.com
When all was dark and there was nothing
From out of the darkness there was the word
And when all was still on the verge of creation
From out of the stillness there came the word
You are The Word, the first and the last
Baruch she’amar v’haya ha’olam
You are The Word, through Your lips life would pass
Baruch she’amar v’haya ha’olam
A word to set the world in motion
A word to bring on the light
Let all hear with awe and devotion
That the language of God is life, is life
When it is dark and I can’t find my being
I reach in the darkness for Your word
And when I am still on the verge of creation
I search in my stillness for the right word…
As a composer, Beth sings well of the struggle to create with words. You can create: weave a feeling, a concept, into true communication, but only if you find the words that work! Funny thing is I always thought the lyric here was: “the language of God is light” because light was first into the darkness, and so symbolic of inspiration itself, and perhaps because the photon which carries the energy of light is so fundamental. But our own existence is only through the magic of mysterious LIFE, another existence in relationships, more than the sum of the body’s parts is our life, and our Nefesh/soul.
A fourth, and fun possibility, maybe the language of God is MUSIC! Music is also one of those magical things which is more than the sum of its parts. It’s fun to imagine a world whose basic construction is sixteenth notes, or chords. It’s not impossible, because music itself is based upon the mathematics of wavelengths, and rhythms, timing and melody, and those relationships which we call harmony. I would not be surprised to see music woven into the fabric of existence itself
Final possibility: Perhaps the language of God is Love, After all, the story of the first earthlings, Adam and Chava is a part of this first portion too. And Love, just as math and Torah and music, exists in the spaces in between, in relationship, as more than the some of its parts: it is creative. This telling is adapted from R. Ed Feinstein’s Capture the Moon. It’s called Paradise– and it’s the first love story.
From the day Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden, they lived together east of Eden, tilling the earth and raising kids, struggling just to stay alive. After many years, when their kids were grown Adam and Eve decided to take a journey before it was too late, to see the world that God created. They traveled the world, exploring it’s wonders…standing on mountain peaks, trekking across vast deserts, and amidst the trees of the forests, watching the sun rise over the ocean, experiencing creation. In their travels they came upon a place that seemed really familiar… the Garden of Eden, from which they’d been exiled. The garden was now guarded by a scary angel with a flaming sword. Scared, they ran away.
Suddenly they heard God’s gentle voice “My children, you have lived in exile all these many years. Your punishment is paid, come now, return to my garden, come home…and suddenly, the scarey angel disappeared. The path into the garden was before them.. but Adam had spent many years in the world, he was skeptical, he asked God: remind me again, please, what is it like in the garden? why it’s Paradise! God responds, you never have to work or struggle again, no pain, no suffering, no death, no time… no yesterday or tomorrow, only an endless now… come my children, home to the garden! Adam considered God’s words, a life with no work, pain, time or death.. a life of ease. Then he turned and looked at Eve, his wife, into the face of the woman with whom he had struggled to make a life, to take food from the earth, to raise children, to build a home… He read in lines of her face the sorrows they’d overcome and the joys as well, all the laughter and tears. Eve looked into Adam’s face and remembered joys and sorrows, of birthing children, and of death intruding too. Eve took Adam’s hand in hers… they looked into each others eyes, “no thank you, that’s not for us now, we don’t need that now” they said, They turned their back on paradise and walked home.
So maybe it’s love that is still creating the world.