“And the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (From this week’s Torah portion, Genesis 1:2)
“And G-d separated between the light and the dark” (ibid 4)
“And G-d said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide…’ (ibid 6)
“ And G-d made the firmament and He divided…” (ibid 7)
“And G-d said: ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night” (ibid 14)
“…and to separate between the light and the dark” (ibid 18)
Before the world was created, before life was poured into its mold, everything was mixed together. It was unformed and void. The secret of the Creation, the secret of life – can be found in one word: Separation. The separation between light and darkness, between the sea and dry land, between animal and plant. When we look through a microscope and see the beginnings of life forming, we see how the cells separate again and again. Life is created through separation .
The state of void and unformed is death. It is the natural state to which all creation is drawn. In order to preserve life we must constantly invest energy – to separate. Without separation, all living organisms would revert to their unformed state. Without investing energy, all substances on earth would mix together once again. Without investing energy, the house will revert to its former, messy state. On the other hand, a tidy home testifies to the presence of its dwellers.
The Creator sees us – humans – as partners in the building and safeguarding of the world. The Creator allowed Man to decide the names of all the animals. As opposed to the animals, Man was graced with creative talent. He is appointed to work and safeguard the land.
This constant investment of energy to safeguard the separation, to safeguard life and the world is the participation of man in the act of creation. But just as nature will always attempt to return to void – to death, so the aspiration to die constantly exists within man.
Imagine a world with no separations, John Lennon sang. No heaven, no hell. No states, no nations, no identity. No national identity, no territorial identity, no familial identity, no gender identity. Even human identity that separates mankind from animals is being rapidly eroded.
Will we be wise enough to preserve the separation? To preserve our identity? To preserve our lives?
Man’s creative talent turns him into a creator; on the surface, just like G-d. Animals form things, as well. A spider spins a web that no man can spin. And a bird’s nest can be amazingly complex. But it is not creation. G-d implanted the nest in the bird’s brain, and that is all that it is capable of doing. It cannot imagine and create a triangular nest, for example. A spider will not suddenly decide to weave a psychedelic web.
And man said, ‘Let there be a fork’ and there was a fork. ‘Let there be a jet-plane’. And there was a jet-plane. ‘Let there be an iphone 7′ …
Man creates in a manner similar to G-d. That is why it is so easy for him to forget G-d and to begin to think that he, himself is G-d.
That is why the Creator commanded us to keep the Shabbat. It is one day in the week in which we do not create. We rest from creating, because that is what G-d commanded us to do. We take a break from creating and remember and testify that there is a Creator in the world. We are His witnesses, we are His children.