בראשית

Pithy statements are simply more quotable.  I was drawn to one such statement in the commentary of the Sforno (whose biography I feel is something I do not need to rehash here in the age of Wikipedia), the commentary on the Torah that I will be focusing on this year (5773).  On the first instance in the Torah of the phrase ויהי כן – and it was so – Sforno offers an illuminating one-liner on what the act of creation consists of.  He states: “It [the created thing] remains established contrary to the natural way of things” (commentary to 1:7, translation mine).  The concept of ‘naturalness’ has long been of interest to me philosophically, as it seems to be one that is both derided and glorified (we like it when our food is labelled ‘all natural’ but do not wish to live in ‘all natural’ houses, as we would rather have four sturdy and weather-resistant walls around us).  Sforno is saying here that all acts of creation – the ultimate good that Hashem offers the universe in the first chapter of Genesis – necessitates changing the natural state.  Before Genesis 1:1, the natural state was תהו ובהו – nothingness and void (1:2) – and so anything we encounter in the universe was created, and hence not the way things began.  As I acclimate to the style and language of the Sforno, I expect to be similarly impressed by how much meaning he can fit into five Hebrew words time and again.

What does it mean now

For a person to create –

Good, Bad, or just Change?

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