The Three Co-creators of Life
Why did He create a man and a woman from the flesh of the man, and then He commanded them to become one again and procreate? After the Eternal YHVH created Adam and Chavah, He could have continued creating the next generation of humans in the same fashion He created the first human, from the dust of the earth, or He could have created the whole human race at once. But He did not. He told them to be fruitful and multiply to fill the earth. Why? And why did He not create many Adams and Chavahs as He created many animals of one species? It is the object of this work to seek the answers to this question: Why did the Creator tell the man and woman to procreate? In the following, we will try to show that this question is far from being trivial and will provide a more complex answer to it, as we will further explain.
The Torah is a meeting with the Eternal in revelation. Navah
Throughout the Scripture the Creator makes Himself known in three ways: in creation, revelation, and redemption. Creation is YHVH’s work: the universe and everything visible and invisible in it, and the crown of it: mankind. Revelation is the Creator’s meeting with mankind to make Himself knowable and loveable through His instruction (Hebrew, Torah) by which men should live. Redemption is the world returned to Him in reconciliation and the creation of new [eternal] life. Thus, creation, revelation, and redemption form the basic triad of our faith. But how little is known that there is another triad without which life is difficult to conceive. This triad is the three co-creators of life to which we now turn.
The Eternal did not desire to be alone
“From nothing, nothing arises. But from the One, everything and everyone has risen.” Navah
Before Genesis 1:1 even began, there was YHVH (The Eternal). He was not Creator, because nothing had been created yet. He was not King, because there was nothing to be reigned over either. YHVH was Yachid, the Only One and alone. No thing and no one existed but Him. And even though He was alone, He was Almighty, Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent, for He was the Eternity. He was the absolute Existence and Eternity. At a certain point of His eternal Existence, He said, “It is not good to be alone!” And by His Will–the essence of Himself–He created the plan not to be alone any longer. Because nothing existed, all must have been created as concepts from naught: from light, time and space to the smallest detail in creating atoms, all according to His plan. Even the term “concept” was not in existence and had to be created before the Beginning. No thing came into existence without first having been conceptualized in His plan by Him, for everything He created had to have a purpose in order to exist, for He did not create a thing, and then He decided what He would need it for.
When the plan was conceptualized and all terms conceived, it became an instruction for implementation. In Hebrew, this is the word Torah, “instruction”, “direction”. Then He uttered the first words of Creation ordering the primordial light to exist,
And primordial light existed. With the creation of light, He created time and space in one continuum–spacetime. Then, the first form of life, the living vegetations, and the animates beings came into existence. When all these were created, YHVH created man in His image, whom He called Adam (Hebrew for mankind). He formed the man from the dust of the earth, breathed into him His breath of life, and the man living soul. Thus, the Eternal became Creator and Sovereign over His kingdom (the universe, angels, all living creatures, and man). As Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent He is Almighty, and He can do and undo everything at the power of His will. There is nothing in the universe that He has not created: from primeval light and angels to innumerable stars and galaxies, and to the first human.
And He saw that it was not good for man to be alone, as it was not good for Himself to be alone, and He created woman from man to be his companion and helper, so that they will not be alone. And He saw all that He made, and it was very good. That was the sixth day of Creation. Now, the Eternal Yachid (the Only One) became Echad–one with His creation. Before the creation, YHVH was Yachid; after the creation He became Echad. Yachid means the only one, no one else. Echad means He and the creation are together in unity. Yachid is exclusive, while Echad is inclusive. And indeed, before the first act of creation, YHVH existed eternally and alone; He was the only One (He was Yachid, or “singularity”).
In six days, He created them and rested on the seventh to set it apart as a special day of Creation. And YHVH said to the man and woman,
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that creeps on the earth! (Gen 1:28)
And further, regarding the finishing of the work of Creation, the Torah says,
And on the seventh day Elohim finished His work which He had done, and He ceased on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And Elohim blessed the seventh day and set it apart, because on it He ceased from all His work which Elohim created to make. (Gen 2:2-3)
The reason why this line “which Elohim created to make” is necessary, although the passage would have been understood without it, is to teach us something. Because if the Torah had only written “And Elohim blessed the seventh day and set it apart, because on it He ceased from all His work”, we would not have known the creation continued on the eighth day. But in order to make this clear to the reader, the Torah added the words “which Elohim created to make”.
On the surface, verses 2 and 3 seem to be implying that once Elohim had created the whole universe and rested on the seventh day, He had ceased from all work and let the universe govern itself by the natural law [of physics] He created. However, Chizkiah ben Manoach (aka Chizkuni) comments on these final words of Creation that Elohim continued being involved in the improvement of His universe. He says, “The word le’asot (to make) at the end of this verse refers to the continuity of this process for as long as earth would exist”. The correct interpretation of the last line, therefore, is: “because on it He ceased from completing all His work of creating”. Thus translated, the statement brings to the reader’s attention a deeper meaning: the Creator ceased from completing His Creation in order to resume it after the completion of the seventh day, Shabbat.
The Alter Rebbe further explains in Tanya that the activating force of the Creator must constantly be vested within His creation, ceaselessly recreating, and reanimating created beings from nothing. Thus, the relationship between all created things and the supernal flow of the life-force from the Breath of His mouth, which flows upon them and brings them into existence, is continuously being created. (Chapter 3 of Shaar Hayichud Vehaemuna, Tanya).
If the rabbis are correct in their supposition of a constant creation, the question presents itself: Why did the Creator leave the world “unfinished”, in order to continue His work on the eighth day? In TORM, we are in opinion that He left His work unfinished because He needed someone to work with, someone who is to work with Him as a co-creator. And this is where our study begins.
The three co-creators
The Creator was alone in His existence and eternity, and He alone created and made everything we see in the world. Yet, once He created all there is one thing which the Almighty YHVH cannot do alone. While it is inappropriate for humans to say in one sentence the Name “YHVH” and the word “cannot”, there is one thing which He does not desire to do by Himself. And He Himself made it that way. What is it? The answer to their question has been spelled out in the verse. He created the man and woman; to be one He created them. They were the first humans He created. When He created them, however, He gave up something from Himself by saying, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth”. What is this which He gave up? What He gave up is hidden in the very first command He gave to the first humans: to multiply and fill the earth. When it was decreed that man and woman must be one, they became one in the new life that began in their offspring. From the moment He said to them to multiply, He gave up a part of His authority as the sole Creator of life in order to make the man and woman co-creators with Him, so that there will be three co-creators, a triad of creating new life. Thus, He stipulated that they (the three co-creators) must be in agreement in order for a new life to begin. If one of the three co-creators is not in agreement with the other two, a new life cannot be even conceived. From here it can be derived that if [for example] the woman is in opposition to the Almighty and the man, then even YHVH Elohim cannot do anything to change the situation and force His will upon the woman; He has to respect her decision. Since then, every husband and wife have been made co-creators equal in authority to create a new life.
If everything in Creation were simply handed to Adam and Chavah, they would have become mere recipients. But by having decreed that they should multiply and fill the earth with new generations, the Creator wished them to become husband and wife and be more like Himself–creators of new life. Thus, when the husband and wife contribute to the creation of life by coming into a sanctified union of marriage, the Creator blesses their efforts and makes them partners and true co-creators of life along with Him by saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” in order to fulfill His own decree. Thus, the man and woman become husband and wife, and with the new life they become father and mother.
Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh. (Gen 2:24)
The Torah is not merely being informative here in verse 24 by stating that a man will separate from his father and mother and cleave to his wife to become one flesh. Note that Torah does not simply says “they shall become one” implying that simply unity or marriage is meant, but it states, “they shall become one flesh”. Why is this particular wording made? It was made to indicate that this is the first commandment given to the man and woman to procreate so that in their offspring they will become one flesh. The child is created by both parents, and in the child, their flesh (the genetical material they both bring in) is united into one flesh, the flesh of the child. But this flesh is not yet a person. When YHVH Elohim created the flesh of man from the dust of the earth, He called him “living soul” (Gen 2:7). It is therefore hinted that a human being is more than a mere flesh but also a soul. The soul in the flesh is the immaterial part of a person, the actuating cause of an individual life. In other articles, we explained the creation of human life. Here, we will briefly punctuate what we have already learned. The Creator formed the human body the dust of the earth (a metaphor for minerals). He then breathed a soul into the flesh.
The Hebrew Scripture (Tanak) speaks of human having three souls: nephesh, ruach, and neshamah, wherein nephesh is the lowest soul. In creating a new human being, two forces emanate from the Creator: (1) Ruach, the force that forms the human body in the mother’s womb, this is the life force that animates the flesh and gives lifelike qualities to the body, and (2) Neshamah, the force that gives the consciousness, an alert cognitive state in which a human being is aware of oneself. Both forces Ruach and Neshamah are the breaths of the Creator that are being transmitted from heaven. Once the creative work of new life is done, parts of Ruach and Neshamah of YHVH Elohim remain in human, as ruach and neshamah, and a new soul has been created: nephesh. In other words, ruach and neshamah, are the sparks of the Creator that remain in man and are being constantly ignited for man to live.
We thus understand that ruach in man is the primeval breath associated with the material body. This soul is not intrinsically immortal, unlike the neshamah which does not die when the body dies, for neshamah is the part of the Eternal One which serves as an “interface” between Him and the human. Upon death of the body, neshamah returns to where it came from (heaven) and remains there until it comes back in the resurrected body. As death cannot live, life cannot die. In the resurrection, the process of creation repeats itself: first, the body is re-created through Ruach, and the consciousness through Neshamah, and a new nephesh (a new person) is created, but the neshemah of man stays in the same state of existence and identity.
The leading Torah scholar of the Middle Ages Moshe ben Nachman, also known as Ramban, who authored commentaries on Torah and the Talmud, linked the commandment in the Covenant “Honor your father and your mother” with “You shall not murder”. In Ramban’s comments on Exodus 20:13, we read,
He is stating: “Now I have commanded you to acknowledge in thought and in deed that I am the Creator of all, and to honor parents because they joined Me in your formation. If so, guard against destroying the work of My hands and spilling the blood of man, whom I have created to honor Me and acknowledge Me in all these matters.”
Furthermore, Talmud, Kiddushin 30b, states that there are three partners in forming a person: Elohim, who provides the soul, his father, and his mother. When a person honors his father and his mother, Elohim says: “I consider it though as if I had dwelt among them and they had honored Me as well”.
And the One who says, “You shall not murder” also says, “Every man shall fear his mother and his father and guard My Sabbaths. I am Yehovah your Elohim” (Lev 19:3), thus placing the Fifth right after the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day to set it apart”. Because he who fears and honors YHVH Elohim (Deu 6:13) also fears and honors his father and his mother, for they are all equal co-creators of life.
Thus, a child is created by three co-creators: Elohim, father, and mother. When these three co-creators are in accord, a new life comes into the world. In the child, the flesh of the father and the mother is united into one flesh, and the souls from Elohim (ruach and neshamah) unites the body into one soul: nephesh. This creation of a new life is alluded to in the very beginning of marital relationship between a man and a woman, as it was said,
And the man called his wife’s name Chavah, because she became the mother of all life. (Gen 3:20)
Before the sin of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, the first woman was not known in the Torah by her name Chavah, only as “the woman” or “his wife”. Only after the sin, in our verse, does Adam name her Chavah, from חָוָה chavah, to live, because she became mother of life. But is there any compelling evidence in the Torah that supports all we have said so far? Indeed, there is. The most pronounced example of this is in Genesis 4.
Man is created with YHVH
After the sin of violating Elohim’s command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Chavah were expelled from the Garden. They realized that they would not live indefinitely, as they were created, and death had been decreed upon them and their offspring. Adam also realized that it became necessary for him to propagate in order to assure himself of children for posterity. And Adam knew his wife. (According to the tradition [Sanhedrin 38b], however, the conception and the birth of the twins, Kayin and Chevel, took place before Adam and Chavah were expelled). Chavah gave birth to twins and named her first son “Kayin”. She did so to express that she created a man with YHVH, as she stated it. We read from the literal translation of the verse,
And Adam knew Chavah his wife, and she conceived and bore Kayin, and said: I have possessed a man with Yehovah. (Gen 4:1)
The choice of words by the Torah is never incidental, when it is stated: “I have possessed a man with Yehovah”. This is the first birth ever recorded in the Scripture. Adam and Chavah were created, but all generations after them were born to humans. JPS renders the expression above et Yehovah as “with the help of the LORD”, supplying the extraneous word “help” to indicate the co-creation of the first human being born in partnership with YHVH Elohim. As far as the grammar is concerned, the expression et Yehovah is rendered, as in a grammatical relation to YHVH, hence, JPS has it: “with the help of the LORD”, which is a correct interpretation in its simplicity of the first birth recorded in the Scripture.
The KJV however contrary to the Hebrew text renders it: “from the LORD” thus presenting the Creator as the father of Kayin, as implied by such a translation. It is absurd and unacceptable that Chavah had conceived Kayin the way the translation insinuates for this is not implied in the words. Besides, the rule of grammar rejects this translation. This translation is incorrect and theologically controversial as the Hebrew אֵת et, “with”, has never been used in the Tanak with the meaning of “from”. For these translators, it does not seem to matter if אֵת et means “with” or “from”.
Since a verse never leaves its plain meaning, the literal language of the verse is interpreted in the following manner: In accord with what the Creator had decreed, Adam knew his wife, and they gave birth to another human being with Him, becoming equal co-creators. When we reflect on what we have written above, we will understand why the Eternal created the man and woman, and then told them to multiply and fill the earth. Because He did not desire to be alone but desired to have co-creators of life.
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