Through The Eyes of a Woman
Bereishis: Making Light of the Creation
[In her opening words at this class, Nechoma pointed out the importance of
the sichah which she was about to teach -- the second sichah on Bereishis
in Volume 10 of Likkutei Sichos -- and which she had taught a week earlier
at the Kinus HaShluchos in America. She also made a special request --
that anyone who enjoyed the sichah should promise themselves (bli neder) to study
it again with a friend, or with their husband, or even with their older children.]
In Pirkei Avos our Sages state that HaShem created the world with
ten utterances. The very first of these utterances
is "Vayomer Elokim, yehi or" -- "And G-d said, 'There shall be
light.'" Since He created the world with ten utterances, no more and no less, then
obviously each of them was absolutely necessary. Moreover, each one represents a
further stage of development. Accordingly, the order in which they were uttered
didn't just happen haphazardly. There was a specific order involved: The order in
which things are presented in the Torah is also Torah! In other words, not only
do we learn practical lessons from the content of what is said in the Torah,
but also from the order in which things are written in the Torah.
Given these principles, the Rebbe now asks: Why was light the first thing to
be created? When HaShem created this fantastic world, with millions and billions
of things, why did He choose to create light as the first thing of all? Remember
that the content as well as the order are important. "Oh," you might say, "this
is obvious -- because light is so important." So the Rebbe asks further:
"Granted, light is important, but whom is light important for?"
At first glance, we would conclude that light is useful only to those creatures
who can see, or make use of light in some way or another. Light only reveals what
is already there. We all know if we would have come into this very shul in
the middle of the night when it's pitch dark, we would walk very, very slowly because
we know there are benches and tables, and other objects, and so we would be afraid
of falling. But all you need is one tiny bulb, and all of a sudden you feel safe.
You see where the aisle is, you see where the table is. So what did the light do?
Did it change anything? Did it add anything? Nothing! It just showed you what was
there. But now that you know what's in the room, you feel confident. In chassidic
terminology this is called gilui -- revelation.
So the Rebbe asks: Since the function of light is to reveal, then what possible
accomplishment can it be to have light when there is nothing to reveal, on the very
first day of creation, when there was as yet nothing else? Moreover, not only was
there nothing to reveal, there was no one to reveal it to!
When we were little, my father always used to say, "Turn off the light. It's
not my job to support Con Edison Electric Company. If you're in the room doing homework,
bevakashah (you're welcome). But when you go out, turn off the light!" There
is no reason to pay electric bills when there is no one there who needs the light.
So light is only important if somebody is using it. But as soon as you go out, shut
off the light! So why did HaShem put on the light on the first day of creation?
There were no people until the sixth day, when Adam was created. There weren't even
any animals which could distinguish between light and darkness until the fifth day.
You might say HaShem wanted to create light for the plants, which also need
light in order to grow. But they were created only on the third day. In other words,
until the third day there was nothing in the world that required light. So at the
very earliest, light should have been created at the end of the second day,
so that it would be ready for the plants on the third day. Why then was it so important
to create light on the first day? He could have created it even the day before.
You don't want to have the beds ready long before the guests come!
Rashi comments that the light created on the first day was not the light
that we are familiar with, which originates in the sun. When was the sun created?
On the fourth day! So obviously, the light that shone from the very beginning of
creation was not sunlight. Rashi continues, explaining that HaShem
concealed the light He created on the first day for use in the future, le'asid
lavo. He hid the light that He created on the first day, and will reveal it
again when Mashiach comes. Based on this, the Rebbe asks a second question:
Since this light was not intended to be used on earth at present, why did He create
it altogether? What was the purpose of creating something, and saying, "I'm hiding
it. I'm holding it in my treasure house, and I'll give it back in 6000 years!" But,
if HaShem did it, there's got to be a specific reason why He did it precisely
The Zohar, one of the earliest Kabbalistic works, written by Rabbi Shimon
bar Yochai, states that the Hebrew word for light, or has the same numerical
value as the word raz, which means "secret." Kabbalistic teachings explain
that the fact that two words have the same gematria, or numerical value,
shows that intrinsically they have a connection, although that connection may not
always be obvious. But it seems that in this case, although or and raz
have the same gematria, they are completely opposite concepts. Light signifies
revelation, whereas raz, a secret, is something concealed. A secret is thus
the opposite of light. So, the Rebbe asks, how could words which have completely
contradictory meaning have the same gematria?
In order to answer all of the above questions, the Rebbe quotes an analogy given
by the Midrash for the process of creation: When a king of flesh and blood
wants to build a palace, he first prepares architectural plans and blueprints. When
everything has been planned out on paper, only then does he actually start the construction.
The same idea applies to the way HaShem built the world, declares the
The Rebbe explains that of course the reality is exactly the opposite. A king
of flesh and blood builds this way because this is the way HaShem designed
and built the world. Everything down here is the way that it is, because it stems
from the way things are Above. That is why our Sages state that the Torah was the
blueprint of creation. "HaShem looked into the Torah and created the world."
The Torah preceded the world, and therefore if we want to know how things should
be, we must look into the Torah to find out. Nevertheless, the Midrash uses
the analogy of a king of flesh and blood so that we will be able to relate to the
concept and understand it more easily.
In terms of human behavior then, before a person makes up his mind to do something
which requires some effort and organization, he first decides what the purpose of
the proposed action is. Only once he has done that, does he begin to plan how to
go about it, and finally actually put the plan into effect. Now, at each stage of
the implementation of the plan, although one has the ultimate goal in mind, one
generally concentrates only on that particular aspect of the activity, and not on
the enterprise as a whole. Let me give you an example: Since the year 5748 (1988,
when the Rebbe first spoke about how birthdays should be celebrated), birthdays
have become a big thing in our lives. (My children, for instance, made me a birthday
party and they put my age on streamers on the window in giant letters....) Now,
how could you make a birthday without a cake? You have to have a birthday cake!
Although I'm not such a big baker these days, I realize the necessity, and so I
bake the kids a cake. Of course, not every cake is the same, so you have to take
orders -- what kind of cake, what kind of decoration, a chocolate cake,
white icing, pink icing, etc. So one day my kid comes home from his friend Yankie's
birthday party and says, "Yankie had a chocolate cake with white icing and sprinkles,
and make me a cake just like that!"
"Sure, anything you want."
I look through the cookbook and find a recipe for the cake, and another one for
the icing. First and foremost, I ask myself, what do we need to make the cake? The
recipe says flour, baking soda, margarine, sugar, etc. Oops, I'm out of margarine,
so I'll have to send one of the kids to the store, and another one to borrow a round
pan from my upstairs neighbor. I get out the flour and the sifter and start sifting.
So I have to do a few activities before I can create a cake like the one my son
ate at his friend's house. Meanwhile, the kid's getting nervous. He says, "Mommy,
what about the cake? You're wasting so much time, going to the store and sifting
"Tattele," I reply, "in order to make a cake there are a few things you
have to get first. I don't have all the ingredients."
A previous cake-baking incident comes to mind, while I'm explaining the finer
points of cake-baking to my son. For her last birthday, my daughter decided that
she would bake the cake herself. So she said, "Mommy, I'll bake the cake and I'll
just, you know, ask for help." So far, so good. The recipe was in Hebrew, so I figured
that nothing could go wrong. She puts it all together, and then calls me to the
kitchen, "Mommy, can you come in and taste it, just to see if it's okay?" So I go
into the kitchen, and something tastes funny. The cake is bitter as wormwood. "What
did you put into this cake?" I said, "Did you follow the recipe exactly?" So we
started reading the recipe. "You put in two cups of flour?"
"A cup of coffee? You put in a cup of coffee like the recipe says?"
"Yeah," she replies. "I measured out a whole cup of instant coffee and I put
it into the cake, just like it says here -- 'kos cafey!'" OK.
"But wait a minute," I say to myself. "This needs some clarification. Did she
mean a spoon of coffee and a cup of water, or a whole cup of coffee? Coffee as she
is drunk, not half of the can!" Well, you might have guessed why the cake was so
bitter. So what did we learn from that? That in order to make a cake taste good,
you have to do things exactly right. A lesson in life!
While I'm reminiscing, the kid is getting nervous. I'm wasting too much time
getting all the pans and the ingredients and sifting the flour. "You're going to
have a cake," I assure him. "Just watch." So finally I get the mixer out and start
baking the cake. After two hours the cake is on the table and I take out the decoration
and get to work on stage two. Finally, some three hours later, we have a cake, just
like his friend had. This finished product was exactly what he had in mind. I'm
Let's get back to the main point. Just like a mother baking a cake begins her
task with an image of the finished product in her head, but must go through a long
and involved process until the cake comes out the way she imagined it, so too,
HaShem created the world, He had in mind what he wanted the world to be, and
a master plan for achieving it. In order for the world to achieve the final product
which He originally had in mind, every ingredient has to be taken care of, and every
stage has to come in the right order.
When Mashiach comes, and everything will be revealed, when the light that
HaShem was saving will be turned on, everything will be revealed. Then we
will see clearly what was concealed during the galus. We'll understand why
there had to be illness and tragedy, pain and suffering, that to our understanding
seemed completely unnecessary. Now we do not understand, just like the little boy
who doesn't understand why his mother is wasting so much time with the eggs and
the flour and margarine. He wants a cake! In the era of Mashiach the final
plan will be revealed and we will then see everything very clearly.
The revelation of this G-dly light that was created on the first day is the ultimate
goal of creation, the Rebbe explains, and will be revealed when Mashiach
comes. But in the meantime it is hidden from us (but only from us, not from HaShem).
Thus, when He created light on the first day of creation this was both the statement
of His purpose in creating the world, and the blueprint and plan of creation.
The Rebbe explains further that the expression, Yehi Or -- "There
shall be light," is in the future tense -- signifying the light
that will be, things will be revealed, when Mashiach comes. However,
this is not only a prediction, so to speak, about what will be in the future, but
also a promise -- "I promise you that the day will come when all of this
darkness will be light." When Mashiach comes, you will see that everything
that happens in the world will be revealed as G-dliness.
Nevertheless, the revelation of this light is very much dependent upon the
avodah -- the divine service -- which we do during the
galus, as a result of the Torah and mitzvos which we do now, as the
Alter Rebbe states in Tanya (Chapter 37). Through Torah and mitzvahs,
in which the light has been hidden, the entire creation will come to the fulfillment
of its purpose.
Here the Rebbe adds another point -- which makes the entire sichah
particularly relevant to us as baalabustas (homemakers) and the mothers of
small children. Since we are involved in the daily nitty-gritty of homemaking, it
is vital for us to remember that in every detail of the daily activities
which are required to keep our homes running smoothly, and our children headed in
the right direction, there is a nitzotz -- a "spark" of G-dliness.
In order to reach the final target, we have to carry through all of these other
details. But we must never get so caught up in the humdrum of daily survival, that
we fail to see the purpose of our existence -- to reveal light. There
are numerous, numerous opportunities for revealing light. We just have to keep our
eyes and ears open for those opportunities. And then we are promised --
"there shall be light," even though we do not see it now.
Although the ultimate good -- when all of creation will be filled with
light ("there shall be light") -- will only be revealed in the future,
nevertheless, HaShem regards every step along the way as also good. That
is why, after the completion of every stage of creation, the Torah states, "and
HaShem saw that it was good," just as it states regarding the light created
on the first day. In fact, light in the Torah is always associated with good. When
Moshe Rabbeinu was born, it is written that Yocheved, Moshe's mother, "saw that
he was good." Rashi explains, "because the house became filled with light."
(Incidentally, there is a tradition we have from the Baal Shem Tov that the most
important feature of an apartment is not if it has a big kitchen, or a private bathroom
off the parents' room, but whether or not it is bright or not. If it is a
lichtige apartment then consider buying it.)
HaShem regarded each aspect of creation as good. This means that the "light"
and the purpose of creation was imbued within every aspect of creation --
in rocks, in the trees, in fish, etc. -- so that every creature will be
able to achieve the ultimate purpose for which it was created. In every part
of the creation the light, the divine spark, exists, even if we don't see it. The
same thing applies to every event in the universe, even the most painful. Since
everything takes place by hashgachah peratis (Divine Providence), everything
plays its part in the realization of the ultimate purpose of creation.