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Truth or Peace? – Bereishit

Posted on כ״ז בתשרי ה׳תש״ע (October 15, 2009) | in Bereishit | by

In this week’s parasha, G-d creates the world ex nihilo. After six days of creating the earth, the sky, animals and vegetation, G-d creates man. But G-d does something strange- He employs the use of the “royal we” before creating man:

ויאמר אלקים נעשה אדם

(בראשית א, כו)

And G-d said: Let us make man.

(Genesis 1, 26)

Is G-d possibly referring to other deities who were to help Him in the creation of man? Of course not! Rather, Chazal explain that G-d was consulting his celestial court of angels. He asked them whether or not He should create mankind. The Midrash gives the full dialogue between G-d and His angels:

בשעה שרצה הקב”ה לברוא את האדם נעשו מלאכי השרת כתות כתות… חסד אומר יברא שהוא גומל חסדים, ואמת אומר אל יברא שכולו שקרים, צדק אומר יברא שהוא עושה צדקות, שלום אומר אל יברא שכולו קטטה, מה עשה הקב”ה נטל אמת והשליכה ארצה… אמרו לפניו, רבונו של עולם אתה מבזה תכשיט שלך, אמר הקב”ה רצוני שתעלה מן הארץ

(מדרש רבה)

“At the time when the Holy One, Blessed be He, desired to create man, the ministering angels formed pairs… [the angels of] Kindness said, ‘Let Him create [man], for He does kindness.’ [The angels of] Truth said, ‘He should not create [man], for [man] is wholly dishonest.’ [The angels of] Justice said, ‘Let him create [man], for He does justices.’ [The angels of] Peace said, ‘He should not create [man], for [man] is wholly quarrelsome.’ What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do? He grasped [the pair of angels of] Truth and threw it to the land… The ministering angels said to him, ‘Creator of the Universe, you are degrading your prize jewel!’ The Holy One, Blessed be He, responded, ‘It is my will that it shall rise from the land.”

(Midrash Rabbah)

This Midrash seems bizarre. The first question that comes to mind is why should G-d refer to anyone, even an angel, for advice? Although the ministering angels indeed have a huge intellect, is it befitting that the Creator of the Universe ask them for advice? The Midrash teaches that G-d consulted his celestial court before making mankind for the sole reason of teaching human beings how to act appropriately. If the Almighty Himself went to others for advice, how much more so should a human being recognize the worth and pertinence of the advice of a sagacious advisor.

The second question that pops up immediately is why did G-d hurl the angels representing Truth to the world? Why did He not hurl the angel of Peace to the ground- for both the angels of Truth as well as Peace had spoken out against the creation of mankind!

HaGaon Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld explains, that had G-d hurled the Peace down to the land and allowed Truth to stay in Heaven, then there would have been Peace in the land, but without Truth. Rav Zonnenfeld goes on to explain that such a situation on Earth would certainly be not good. From such conditions we would emerge into a world simliar to the one of the Dor Hahaflaga, the generations preceding the flood that were scattered throughout the land for rebelling against G-d. The only reason the generation was merely scattered and not destroyed was because they had peace among them; in merit of their unity, G-d spared their lives. Although there was Peace in the land, there was no Truth. Everyone was content and untroubled, but that was only because people did not accept reality, did not accept G-d’s rule. Therefore, G-d, in his eternal wisdom, hurled Truth to the earth. Although there would certainly be terrible strife and conflict within humanity, there would be Truth.

The Midrash is teaching as a valuable lesson: although Peace is meritorious and a condition we should all strive to achieve, Truth is the most important principle we have in this world. While G-d did not decimate the people of the Dor Hahaflaga because of their unity, they were punished nonetheless. The Dor Hahaplaga was punished with being scattered, their unity broken forever, because they had not united in the Truthful cause. We can take this lesson to a more practical level- though we may act in a way to promote Peace and longevity, we should certainly always check that first and foremost we are adhering to G-d’s Truth.

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