Something from Nothing, Nothing from Something
By Nachum Mohl
G-d's creation of the universe is yesh m'eiyan, something from nothing. It is a impossible concept for us to comprehend with any true understanding. We are accustomed to thinking of creation as being a new fashion, a new car, etc. In reality, these are creations that are yesh m'yesh, something from something.
Everything in our realm of being has been created and exists for our use. We make what we consider new by merely changing the existing form or shape of matter and remolding it. We take wood and make a chair, iron ore and make a car. This is not the same as the creation of something from nothing.
We also have the tendency to consider a miracle as being something from nothing, but it is not. If we consider a miracle, such as the splitting of the Red Sea, when the Jews left Egypt, we will see that although it is a miraculous deed, still it is not something from nothing. What happens in a miracle is that the nature of the matter, in our case, water, changes temporarily. The nature of water is that it can not stand, that is to say, one drop on top of the next, like a stone. The miracle involves the changing of the nature of water, suspending the laws of liquids and substituting the laws of solids in its place. When the Jews left Egypt and the water split and stood like a wall, the laws of nature were suspended and changed.
Our concept of yesh m'aiyan, something from nothing, is even deeper than merely bringing matter into existence from absolute nothingness. In the man's creation, the making of a chair from wood or the painting of a picture is such that once the man finishes his creation, the creation does not require him.
Man's creation has an existence separate and independent from the creator (man). This is because the creation was not a true creation, but man took a created item, wood or paint and a canvas, and made a change to them. Because they started with a separate existence apart from man, when man finishes his creation they continue to exist independently of man.
G-d's creation is not like that. When G-d decided to create there was nothing except G-d. Only He existed. Through his will that there be a world with all that is included within, came existence.
Mysticism teaches us that in reality the creation of G-d differs in this aspect with the creation of man. As mentioned above, man's creation exists independently of man since the materials were independent of man before his creation. G-d's creation does not exist independently of G-d. G-d created material and material is dependent on G-d's continual will that it continue to exist. This is the second important difference.Since
G-d's creation did not exist before the world was created, as some nebulous matter, but rather matter did not exist. Only through the will and desire of G-d did the matter come into being, something from nothing. Since it had no independent existence prior to creation, even after creation it can have no independent existence. It is totally dependent of G-d's continual will that matter exist.
G-d's creation differs from man's creation in two important aspects. One, there was nothing in existence prior to creation. Two, there is a constant dependence on the creation to the constant will and desire of G-d.
This is what is called in Hebrew, hasgacha pratis, meaning the constant supervision of G-d is given to all of His creations. G-d continually desires that matter exist and He supervises all of matter in a manner that we can not fathom.
Many are of the opinion, that there is a third type of creation. This is called something to nothing. This is when something is taken and changed into nothing, and emptiness prevails where something was.
The most prominent example of this is the Jew who takes his mind and voids it of all of the good and G-dly thoughts and in its stead focuses on the stupidity which abounds in this world. When a Jew believes that what is created is, was, and will continue according to the laws of nature, then he is changing his mind from a possible something to a real nothing.
Let us all pray that we are among those who focus on G-d's creation of something from nothing, and not be among those who are accounted as being nothing from something.
from the June 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine