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Shabbat Themes-Shabbat HaGadol-Accomplishment

All the early commentators ask, why did God not create the world at an earlier time? (Eitz Chaim, D’rush Egolim v’Yashar 1) Is not action always better than nothingness? And furthermore, why did God’s will change from not wanting to create to wanting at the time of creation, and not before? We know that God does not change, as it is written in this  week’s Haftarah for Shabbat Hagadol, “I am God, I do not change (Malachi 3:6).”


God is not like a human worker. A human worker can acquire knowledge now that he did not have before. This knowledge is something new for him that he acquires. A human worker, furthermore, has needs. He may, for example, need a place in which to live. When he obtains enough knowledge to build the house, he does so.

God’s knowledge, however, is part of His Essence, and is not acquired. God, furthermore, does not have any needs. Therefore, when God desired to create the world, this desire did not suddenly come into existence. Just as God Himself always existed, so did this Will and Desire. From the very beginning, He had a desire to create the world precisely at the time that it was brought into being, and not before.

When God created the world, He did so at exactly the right time and season. His original intention was to create a precisely at that time, and only at that time. Creation therefore did not involve any change of God’s mind.

We can demonstrate this point in the following manner. We know that in the Ultimate Future, there will be a world where “all is Shabbat,” where, “the righteous will sit with their crowns on their heads,” and where, “God alone will prevail on that day (Isaiah 2:11, 2:17).”

It is obvious that this Future World will be when a much higher plane than the present world. A great thing like this is also certainly better than its nonexistence. The question then arises, why did God not create this Future World first?

The answer, however, is that it all had to come in its due time and season, just like the Shabbat comes after six weekdays. The same was true of creation. Even though God knew that accomplishment is better than its absence, God’s will went against this knowledge. From the very beginning, God knew that accomplishment was best. But, He also desired not to bring about this accomplishment immediately, but to wait until the proper time. God therefore abandoned His knowledge, and followed His Will. Thus, before creation, the world was in a state where all was Shabbat. It is thus written, “He has made everything right in its own time, also the world (Ecclesiastes 3:11).” This is a very deep mystery, and the wise will understand.

This also explains God’s omniscience as it relates to man’s free will. One may ask, how is it fitting that the righteous should be rewarded in the wicked punished? We know that “God knows, there is knowledge with the Highest,” and that, “He looks in gazes to the end of all generations.” Therefore, the good person as no choice but to be righteous, and it is not fitting that he be rewarded. It was also known that the other individual would be wicked, and it is not fair that he be punished. He could not have gone against something God already knew.

This is not a serious question. Even though God has knowledge of the future, His desire is that He do good to His handiwork. For this reason, He gave us the Torah and Commandments, so that we would be able to fulfill this desire of His. Therefore, from the very first thought, God’s desire opposed to His knowledge. A person thus has a choice, and can follow God’s desire rather than His knowledge. When God knows that a person will be wicked, He has no desire, neither for this knowledge nor for the evil deed. His knowledge therefore goes against His will.

If a person wants to improve his deeds, he can follow God’s will. He will then not lower himself and degrade himself to the evil predicted by God’s knowledge.

The knowledge of future evil was only created to test the righteous, in the sense that it is written, “For the Lord your God is testing you (Deuteronomy 13:4).” This world is a period of testing, and the main reason that the soul is sent down to this world is so that it will be tested.

When a person sins, he follows God’s knowledge of the future. He does not sin, however, he follows God’s command and desire, which opposes this knowledge.

It is written, “A fire offering, a sweet savor to God (Exodus 29:18).” God is saying, “It is a spirit of pleasure before Me, for I have spoken, and My will has been done.” Understand this well. (Keter Shem Tov 348)

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