By ten sayings the world was created [1]

The ten sayings are all found in Bereishith, the first parshah of Torah.

The Talmud (Rosh Ha-Shanah 32a) takes as ten the 9 times that a verse begins with “And God said…” —

1 — And God said, “Let there be light…” [2]

2 — And God said, “Let there be an expanse…” [3]

3 — And God said, “Let the waters…” [4]

4 — And God said, “Let the earth grow vegetation…” [5

5 — And God said, “Let there be lights…” [6]

6 — And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms…” [7]

7 — And God said, “Let the earth bring forth…” [8]

8 — And God said, “Let us make human beings…” [9

9 — And God said, “See, I have given you…” [10]


the opening verse, “In the beginning…” [11], based on the verse, “By the word of God the heavens were made” [12].

Another place in the Talmud, “Avot d’Rabbi Natan (vers. B)” lists the 10 verses somewhat differently.

In any case, the Talmud is teaching that everything is created by the Will of a single God.

Yet we might believe, as do Newton and Einstein, for example, that having created all things, God leaves them to exist on their own.

The Ba’al Shem Tov corrects this misunderstanding:

“It is written, ‘Forever, God, Your Word stands firm in the heavens…’ [13]. The Ba’al Shem Tov, z”l, has explained that ‘Your Word’ [each of the 10 sayings above]…these very [Hebrew] words and letters stand firmly forever within the firmament of heaven and are forever clothed within all the heavens to give them life…For if the letters were to depart even for an instant, God forbid…all the heavens would become…as though they had never existed at all, exactly as before [the Words above]…And so it is with all created things…If the letters of the 10 Words by which the earth was created during the Six Days of Creation were to depart from it [even] for an instant, God forbid, it would revert to…absolute nothingness, exactly as before the Six Days of Creation.” [14

The Besht is telling us: God is saying these “Words” even now. God’s act of creation is continuous, even up to the present moment.

We might interpret the Besht’s reference to the Hebrew letters as meaning that their unique vibrational qualities bring about the appearance of a physical creation. This would be in line with much that Kabbalah teaches.

But the Besht might have meant something additional, as well: Created things remain within their Source.

For an action to take place, it must begin as a thought. This thought then gets formulated as a specific idea. The idea must be made up of words, which are themselves made up of letters. A thought comes from the deepest levels of the soul and is always united with its source. Thus, God’s thought to create the worlds is united with its Divine Source. Within that Divine Source, the letters — also aspects or emanations of the Source — become the creative materials from which the ideas, and finally, the act, are produced — always remaining within their Divine Source.

Thought –> letters –> words –> ideas –> act

Not only do created things remain within their source, but the Creator must remain within the things created, for them to continue existing.

In this way, the Besht tells us to look upon the world as being constantly created from moment to moment, while remaining within the Creator and the Creator remaining within all things created:

“Have in mind that everything in the world is filled with the Creator…” [15

In this light — literally and figuratively — we can also understand a comment with which Rebbe Nachman of Breslav opens his collected discourses — “Likutei Moharan“:

“For [one] must look deeply into the [Divine] Wisdom that is in all things, and bind [him/herself] to the [Divine] Wisdom and Intelligence that is to be found in everything.” [16]

We can’t “bind” ourselves to God by willpower. Rather, we “bind” ourselves to God by realizing that God is the ongoing Source of our actual existence, as well as the existence of all else.

“Source” not only as the Initial Creator, but as the ongoing material of creation itself.

“Matter is not something apart from divinity, but only the visible aspect of divinity…” [17]

We may “postulate” — intellectually conceive — of God’s Nearness. Even so, we must “realize” — directly experience — it. “Seeking God” is unnecessary. We are required only to “realize,” to “know” Divine Nearness through direct experience in meditation or prayer, along with a corresponding change in our conscious understanding.

“We must therefore realize that the Divine Mind is nearer to man than man may postulate Him to be.” [18]

We are not, and can never be, separate from God.


[1] Pirkei Avot 5:1

[2] Ber./Gen. 1:3

[3] 1:6

[4] 1:9

[5] 1:11

[6] 1:14

[7] 1:20

[8] 1:24

[9] 1:26

[10] 1:29

[11] 1:1

[12] Tehillim/Ps. 33:6

[13] ibid. 119:89

[14] Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady; Tanya/Sha’ar ha-Yichud v’ha-Emunah; p. 287 (English)/288 (Hebrew).

[15] Tzava’at HaRivash; Rabbi J.I. Schochet, trans. and ed.; Kehot Publication Society, © 1998, p. 70.

[16] Rebbe Nachman of Breslav; Likutei Moharan; Breslov Research Center, © 1986; vol. I, p. 2 (Hebrew)/3 (English).

[17] Lichtenstein, Rabbi Morris; Jewish Science and Health; p. 17

[18] ibld. p. 14