Footprints in the Sand


Moshe Ben-Chaim




Take a look at that leaf. Do you see a design…a unique arrangement of any kind?


Take a look at that…is that the leaf again?

No. It is an aerial view of rivers from space.


What’s this a picture of?

These are the artery and vein structures of all animals.


And what about this tree? Seeing a pattern yet?


You know what this is.


In all of these creations, we witness a duplication of a design. But we musk ask: a) why duplication exists, and, b) why “this” unique pattern is duplicated. And there must be good reason if it occurs so often. Can you define what exactly the lesson is in duplication, and in this unique pattern? Think about it. Now turn the page to see if this pattern continues outside physical design.


This is a chart of causes, or events. In this case, we view the cause for generations: each generation being caused by the previous.


This is the tree structure of categories. All logical definitions seek to place any object or phenomenon into its own, unique category, in order to accurately define what it is. And as the tree structure of all preceding creations viewed, this topic – human knowledge – also follows the tree structure. Each category is generated by the higher category. Isn’t that interesting?


Whether we view physical entities, events or causes, or the structure of human knowledge, we witness the same, identical pattern. By itself, it is quite intriguing. But why must this be? Why did God permeate so much of His creation with “this” design? The next page displays a second design, and message.


The left image is the solar system. The right image is the planetary orbits of electrons revolving around the nucleus of an atom. In both cases, there is a primary object, and other objects that rely on it. Planets would fly into space without the sun, and all Earthly life would perish. And without the nature of electrons and nuclei, matter could not exist. The heart of man is the same…all limbs rely on it for blood.

Taking this notion of “dependency” to another level, man needs food, water, air and sunlight. Plants and animals – man’s sustenance – require the same. What man needs to live, are themselves also in need. Why must man be dependent? Why must man’s needs themselves, be dependent?



Rabby Bachya ibn Paquda (“Duties of the Hearts” author) among others refers to the design witnessed in creation. He states that we need not see the author (referring to God) to know His existence:


“…it is enough to see the manuscript; the inferences drawn about the author from his work, from his handwriting style, serve us instead of our actually meeting him. We may conclude with certainty – based on the consistent style and uniformity of the manuscript – that there existed one writer…a work written by two different authors would be marked by diversity, a lack of uniformity, inconsistency of style, and would fluctuate in quality and character.”


Reading this, and reflecting on the images above, we understand his metaphor of the author, truly referring to God. We understand what he means by “uniformity of style” as seen throughout creation. But I wonder: is there more to this design, than mere duplication to point to an “Author”? Is there a message in addition to there being one Designer, which we might derive from this specific branch and planetary patterns? What might be the most fundamental lessons, which God wished to impart through repeating, natural patterns? Do the patterns have a hint?


Maimonides organized the fundamentals of Judaism, located in his Yesodei HaTorah 1:1-3. He commences with the two most primary fundamentals:


I. The foundations of foundations, and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there exists a First Cause (existence). And He caused all existences. And all that is found from the heavens and Earth and what is between them do not exist, except due to the truth of that First Cause.


II. And if you might entertain the notion that He would not exist, nothing else would be able to exist.


III. And if you might entertain the notion that nothing else would exist, except for Him, He alone would exist. And He would not be eliminated through the elimination of all other existences. For all existences need Him, and He, Blessed be He, does not need them…and not one of them. Therefore, His truth is not as the truth of anything else.



The Lessons


Lesson I: A First Cause

In all our observations, we witness a root, or singular starting point that branches out, or from which veins emanate. This is intended – in my opinion – to replicate Creation, and point to a Creator. That is, from One God (the root) did all creations emanate (branches). This is Maimonides’ first fundamental. From one tree root, from one leaf’s stem, from one initial lightning bolt…branch out numerous offshoots. That is creation: one Cause that generated all other existences.

We are taught by design in nature, those most fundamental ideas God wishes to be inescapable. Foremost in God’s plan for man, God desires that mankind recognize the most primary lessons, starting with the truth of a First Cause, from which all emanated. This lesson is successfully taught through its repetition all around us: from creations, how events work, and even how knowledge is structured, we are reminded of this fundamental. “Fear of God is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7) Therefore, as God desires man to obtain knowledge, He placed His “footprints” in the sands and creations of Earth. He publicizes His presence and identity as Creator of all…the source and root. But there is another lesson.


In all cases, the root is a ‘source’, which delivers blood, water, or energy through all its branches…this is the second fundamental…



Lesson 2: Dependency

The second thing we can say about this design is that a life source (rivers; a leaf’s veins; a tree’s nutritive branches; blood-carrying veins) delivers its nutritive properties through a path that exponentially divides. Even lightning is delivering necessary energy: starting at one point, and branching out as it approaches Earth’s surface. We see this concept in atoms, and in our solar system as well. A central force – a source – is what all else depends on for “continued existence”.

This is Maimonides second fundamental. Nothing can exist without God. Not only is God the First Cause, but also He is the sustainer of all existence, just as the veins and branches deliver sustenance. We must not be deceived that once a creation came into existence, that it might continue independent of God. No. The very truth that everything required creation – a transition from nonexistence into existence – proves that by nature, nothing should exist! It is only by God’s will that all came into being, and that all continues. Nature once again displays a fundamental. Nature embodies this abstract concept that all creations rely on God, through the very real observation that all existences are dependent existences: be it on food, sun, water, or air.

God created man as a dependent existence, to constantly remind us of our dependence on Him. Through our daily dependence on water, and food, and our constant dependence on air, we are to arrive at the higher lesson that we are dependent on God for our lives.


God permeated our world with these two reminders: 1) all existences require a cause, or root; 2) all existences require His maintenance.


If we take these messages to heart, we become truly indebted to God. We realize our place in the universe. And this indebtedness should fuel our dedication to His will, that we follow Torah. That is the final objective of all these lessons. It is not for Him that we dedicate ourselves to Him, but for us. For God needs nothing, as Maimonides said, “For all existences need Him, and He, Blessed be He, does not need them…and not one of them.” God gave us hints all around that our life’s goal is to recognize His exclusive role as Creator, and Maintainer.


1) A First Cause, and 2) the dependency of all existences on that Cause, are precisely Maimonides’ two most primary fundamentals. And it is these two fundamentals that we witness in creation. If these two ideas are so fundamental, it is plausible that God permeated these lessons into creation. For it is creation’s purpose to give evidence of the Creator. God created the world to testify to His existence. “The heavens speak the honor of God,” said King David. Of course the heavens cannot speak, but this means they “convey” God’s wisdom, His honor. Now, what is His honor? As Maimonides said, it is that He is the First Cause, and that upon Him do all existences rely. We learn that creation is to point man towards a knowledge of the Creator, and that upon Him do all existences rely for their continued life. Thus, we might safely assume that God embedded these lessons in all matter.


It is quite amazing that the two lessons Maimonides deemed most primary, parallel exactly two prominent designs in creation.