God’s Primary Creations: The Universe & the Jew
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
In Jeremiah’s era, most of the Jews were exiled or subjugated to other nations, and this was the nations’ sentiment:
You see what this people said: “The two families [royalty and priests] which the Lord chose have now been rejected by Him.” Thus they despise My people, and regard them as no longer a nation” (Jer. 33:24).
God’s response to those who say He rejected David’s lineage and the priesthood:
Thus said the Lord: “If you could break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that day and night should not come at their proper time, only then could My covenant with My servant David be broken—so that he would not have a descendant reigning upon his throne…” “If I had not established My covenant with day and night—the statutes of heaven and earth…so too I would despise the offspring of Jacob and My servant David! I will never fail to take rulers from his [David’s] offspring for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Jer. 33:20,21,25,26).
It is impossible that the covenant I made for day and night not be at their set times; and it is impossible for the laws of heaven and earth to be abolished. So too, Jacob’s seed will never be abolished. And our rabbis explained this as referring to the Torah covenant, to learn from this that for the sake of the Torah, heaven and earth were created” (Ibid.).
Creation & Jews
God equates creation and the Jews: as one must exist, so must the other. What then is the need for creation, and how does it parallel the need for the Jews?
As Rabbi Israel Chait taught, the books of Prophets and Writings add nothing to the Five Books—Bible. Bible contains the complete corpus of God’s guide for human happiness. Prophets and Writings only embellish the Bible’s lessons. Thus, we find a basis for Jeremiah’s words in Genesis:
God smelled [Noah’s sacrifice’s] pleasing odor, and God resolved: “Never again will I doom the earth because of humankind, since the devisings of the human mind are evil [only] from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living being, as I have done. Furthermore, all the days of Earth there shall not cease seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night” (Gen. 8:21,22)
Rashi comments: From this we may infer that they (day and night) ceased during the period of the Flood, for the planetary system did not function, so that there was no distinction between day and night (Ibid.)
Man sinned so grievously, God flooded Earth and wiped out all life. At that time, natural law was suspended, seasons ceased, as did day and night. Without man recognizing God, Earth is without purpose. But due to Noah’s recognition of God through sacrificing to Him, God swore to never cause natural law to cease as it had during the Flood. “Man is only evil from youth,” but he can excel as an adult and use his intellect to overpower his instincts, and lead a perfected lifestyle. Noah’s perfected act of sacrifice displayed no further need for another Flood. Noah represented mankind’s potential for good.
The Tzaddik Saves Earth
Righteous people justify the sustained existence of the universe. That’s a powerful idea: creation exists as God’s communication to intelligent beings. Creation functions to display that there is a Wise Being…evidenced in creation. And as wise people exist, they give meaning to the world, as they use the universe to recognize God. This is Rashi’s words on Jeremiah: “for the sake of the Torah, heaven and earth were created.” Meaning, the universe was made for the sake of man recognizing God. King David said, “The righteous man is the foundation of Earth” (Proverbs 10:25). Malbim says this refers to Noah.
But the universe is not the only means through which God communicates His wisdom, and will for man:
Just as it is impossible that I revoke My covenant of day and night, the statutes of heaven and earth…so too I will never despise the offspring of Jacob and My servant David; I will never fail to take rulers from his offspring for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Indeed, I will restore their captives and show them mercy.
The Jews’ Role: Equal to Others
The Jew who is to communicate God’s Bible to the world has equal status as creation. Just as the universe imparts God’s natural wisdom, the Jew is obligated to study and share God’s Biblical wisdom with all mankind. And as the Jew’s role is to share God’s Bible, ultimately all mankind are equals, as God wants all mankind to follow His Bible. This is the primary lesson.
We must also note that the verse says, “I will never despise the offspring of Jacob and My servant David; I will never fail to take rulers from his [David’s] offspring for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” God promises that David’s descendants will retain kingship as not any Jew is worthy of the throne. A Jew is not inherently great…he must follow the character of David, and David’s descendants are most fit as they will identify with David more than other Jews.
If I had not established My covenant with day and night—the statutes of heaven and earth…so too I would despise the offspring of Jacob and My servant David
Notice that God refers not to the simple physical phenomenon of heaven and Earth, but to the “statutes” of heaven and Earth. “Statutes” refer to laws, a repeating phenomenon. Laws are guided by design, by wisdom, they are intelligent controls which guide the universe. God intends that we don’t simply marvel at physical beauty, but the wisdom embedded in natural law is to be our focus. God desires that man unravel the depth of wisdom that runs the universe…that engage his mind. For the pursuits of discovery, analysis and deduction provide man the utmost satisfaction, and direct him towards a growing relationship with the Creator.
The very model God determined—wise men teaching others—teaches mankind that the universe and Torah contain great depth and wisdom; only a wise person can uncover God’s wisdom: “A brutish man cannot know, a fool cannot understand this” (Psalms 92:7). Engaging prophets and the Jew, God tells the world that there are great discoveries to made that can fulfill our lives, but those discoveries require intellect.
Just as God will not break His covenant with heaven and Earth, He will also retain David’s descendants as Jewish rulers. God created a universe wherein physical creation provides great wisdom for our unraveling, and where He established leaders descending from those who recognized God.
Based on the Jews’ state of exile and subjugation, man assumed God rejected the Jews. God could have replied by simply saying He won’t ever despise David’s lineage. What demanded that God refer to the permanence of heaven and Earth? It is because God wished to convey the very reason David’s descendants will rule eternally: the Jew—like heaven and Earth—exist to share God’s wisdom. The Jew and creation share the identical role of God’s messengers.