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Shema: Rav Yaakov Emden: Formation of Light

The 30th of Nisan is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yaakov (ben Tzvi) Emden (1698-1776), known as Ya’avetz (Yaakov ben Tzvi), son of the Chacham Tzvi: “Who forms light, and creates darkness, makes peace and creates all (Opening of First Blessing Before the Morning Shema).”


Formation is a lower level of creativity than Creation. The latter is ex nihilo, something from nothing, while the former is something from something. Light was not Created from nothing, but formed from something; the Yeish, the Essence of God. It is a physical and spiritual expression of God’s Being.

Darkness was Created so as to provide a place where the Light could be received and revealed to created beings who are, by virtue of being created, limited.

The Formation of Light, the lesser form of creativity that appears in the Torah after the Creation of darkness, “and there was darkness over the face of the deep,” is mentioned first in this blessing because the blessing is describing the intention and plan. The purpose was to provide Light. The Darkness was created only to allow for the revelation of Light.

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