Genesis & Mercy


Moshe Ben-Chaim



Genesis abounds with fundamental truths concerning reality: the existence of all we see. God is the only Creator. There can only be One Cause for everything, for if there were two or more causes for the universe, we must conclude that something designated a limit to all causes, in that none could operate independently. Hence, the idea of many gods is ludicrous, as that idea too implies a single, superior being limiting those multiple gods to discreet spheres of power. And since there is already One Superior and exclusive Cause for everything, the notion of other gods makes no sense. Conversely, the position that “Intelligent Design” is false, (no God exists) must assume that, A) things make themselves, which is impossible, or B) matter always existed, which too is impossible. If B were so, nothing could exist, for with no absolute “cause”, nothing can come to be: suggesting that Z was created by Y, and Y was created by X, and X was created by W, ad infinitum, one declares that there was nothing responsible for this cycle of creations. Hence, without a responsible cause for this cycle, this cycle cannot exist.


God’s existence dictates man’s adherence to His commands: God molded our bodies from matter, a substance created from absolute nothingness. “Elokai Nitzor” recited each morning clearly states God created our souls anew, and as Isaiah states (40:25) man (and all creation) shares no common element with God: He created our souls, and us. He is eternal; we share nothing in common with Him. We have no idea what God is.


We don’t know “why” He created us, since having a reason implies motive, which is a human function, inapplicable to God. Hence, God cannot do something “because” of any other consideration; nothing could “cause” or motivate God. Only ignorance might affect another entity, but an all-knowing God can never “react” to news, requiring an alteration in His actions, for there is no “news” in connection with One who knows all. But God also exists above causes, as He is outside of time, since He created time. Therefore, our discussions about Him are inherently flawed, and are prohibited, as stated in Talmud Chagiga 11b. All we may discuss concerning God is from creation and forward, and what is within our range of observation.


But before observing the external world, we must ascertain that our “looking glass” is clear and focused. For with obscured vision, one’s perceptions are false. God made certain to address this human frailty by informing us of our very psychological natures, including our design, motives, reactions, and inclinations. Recording the account of Adam and Eve’s sin, we witness mankind’s tendencies, our ability to rebel, our need for justification, fear of authority by hiding from God, morality in shameful nudity, depleted ego when suffering to subsist on our animal’s food, and many other psychological truths. Learning about ourselves, we may determine if our future observations are tainted with subjective leanings, and as we learn in Genesis, man and woman certainly harbor many deceptive traits and faculties.


But with God’s corrective response to Adam and Eve’s sin by granting a new faculty of ‘morality’, by elevating Adam’s initial, punitive food from grass to a dignified man-made bread, through God’s pacifying response to Cain’s plea although he murdered his brother, we witness God’s trait of “mercy”. Throughout the Torah, man sins, and based on strict justice, he deserves death. But time and time again, and with this most recent day of Yom Kippur to wit, God embodies “mercy” in place of strict justice. Why? But one better, God’s very creation of man is His star witness to His mercy: for God does not need us. Yet He made us. He gave you and me a life. We were nothingness…and now we are here, with an extraordinary opportunity to apprehend this Being, this Creator of matter from nothingness…this Creator of universes. Never having existed, we “deserve” nothing. Yet, we have an opportunity to live eternally. This is mercy beyond compare…ever greater than His tolerance of man’s errors, is God’s creation of man.


But returning to our question, what demands that God’s mercy should override His justice? Why does God bend to our needs in place of punishing us according to the letter of the law? However, this question is akin to asking, “Why is God, God?” Meaning, we cannot ask concerning God’s nature. It is beyond man’s abilities. God is merciful, and this is reality.


Perhaps all those second, third, fourth and hundredth chances God gives us, should echo that initial mercy which He bestowed on each of us: He made us. This appreciation must create a deep satisfaction in those of us who realize its worth, and should remove, or at least minimize our petty dissatisfactions in life. This very realization and opportunity in itself is a great source of happiness, and should be shared by those who can convey this truth to others. Most of our worries and complaints fall away when appealing ideas seize our attention. You and I are created and have a grand opportunity, so be nothing less than ecstatic. Shanna Tova to everyone!