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Rav Avraham ben HaGra: Levels of Creation -Blessings Before Shema

The 25th of Kislev is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Avraham, son of the Vilna Gaon (1808) I am eternally grateful to Rav Avraham, as his “Peirush HaTefillah” transformed my davening.

“Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the Universe, Who forms light and creates darkness and creates all.” (Based on Isaiah 45:7)

People are often confused by the use of the terms Boreih – Create, Yotzair – Form, and Oseh – Make. People assume that Boreih is to create something out of nothing. However, my father would often ask, how will they explain the blessing, “Who creates fruit of the tree?” How can they understand “And the Lord created man in His image?”

We must look at three levels: ‘Etzem’ – the essence of something, ‘Mikre Davuk’ – a related result, and a ‘Mikre sh’eino Davuk’ – a unrelated result.

When a carpenter begins to work with a piece of wood, he is working with the ‘Etzem’ – the thing itself, in this case, a piece of wood. He will cut and shape the wood, but he must work with the size, grain and shape of the wood. That work is ‘Mikre Davuk’ – the result is a direct result of the nature of the ‘Etzem.’

When he chooses the color tp stain the wood, and adds small designs into the table he has made, he is not limited by the ‘Etzem’,’ and his work is ‘Mikre sh’eino Davuk.’

Beriah – creation – refers to the creation of the ‘Etzem.’
Yetzirah – formation – refers to ‘Mikre Davuk,’ what God does with the ‘Etzem.’
Assiyah – making – describes ‘Mikre sh’eino Davuk.’

“And the Lord created man in His image,” refers to the creation of the ‘Etzem,’ the essence of a human being.

“”And God, the Lord, formed man, dust from the earth,” describes ‘Mikre Davuk,’ the shape and form of a human body.

“And God, the Lord, made clothing to cover the man and his wife,” describes dressing them in clothing, which is ‘Mikre sh’eino Davuk.’

When we say, “Who creates fruit of the tree,” we are praising the creation of the ‘Etzem’ of trees that can produce different fruit of all varieties.

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