Seven days of Creation: the key to understanding time

by R24 App

Every week we go back to the initial seven days of the world, from the first day to Shabbat, and we live them on a different level. These seven days encompass the whole flow of time (from the Rebbe’s talk, chapter “Noach”, 5752).

On the first day after Shabbat – yom rishon – we return to the first day of the Creation: “And G-d said, “Let there be light,” and there was light” (“Breishit”, 1:3).

The second day – yom sheni – is both a repetition and a development of “day two”, known as the day of separation (on the day G-d separated “between water and water”, see “Breishit” 1:6-8). The third day – yom shlishi – even today is considered to be the most favorable day of the week. On this day of Creation, the work that had remained unfinished after day two, was completed. On this day the words “ki tov” (“that it was good”) were said twice.


Seven days, seven thousand years

The connection between the seven days of Creation and the flow of time takes on special meaning as we analyze the hidden layer of the Torah, revealed in commentaries and explanations.

The Talmud tells us that the history of the world comprises six eras of one thousand years each. They are parallel to the six days in which the world was created:

Six thousand years were decreed upon the world: 2000 years of emptiness (without Torah), 2000 years of Torah, and 2000 years for (the days of) Mashiach (Avodah Zarah 9).

The seventh millennium, coming after the first six, represents a fundamentally new milestone in history. It is not the continuation of the world as we know it, but a leap into a new reality.

In his commentary on The Book of Breisheet (Genesis), Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Nachmanides or Ramban) expands on this idea as well:

The six days of Creation are all the days of the world, for its existence is six thousand years, and therefore it is said that one of G-d’s days is a thousand years (Ramban on Breisheet 2:3).

What these commentaries have in common is that history is not a collection of random events. It has direction. It’s directed towards the future world, the world of Geulah – the seventh millennium. From the creation of the world to the present day, the world is undergoing a process of refinement and improvement on its way to perfection on the “seventh day” – the time of Geulah.


Day one, day two

In his commentary Ramban describes a unique theme for each millennium:

During the first two days the whole world was water. Nothing was yet shaped. And this is a metaphor of the first two millennia of history – the period of time when nobody called out to HaShem, and so it’s said: “two millennia of emptiness” (“Avodah Zarah”, 9A). However, the light was created on the first day, and this is an allusion to the first millenium – the years of Adam haRishon. He was the light of the world and he knew his Creator… (Ramban on Breisheet 2:3)

In Kabbalah, each day of the week is also associated with one of the seven sefirot, understood as channels of Divine energy or life-force. The sefirot represent the various stages of the Creation which culminated in our finite physical universe. The hidden motivational power of each sefirah (or attribute) can be understood by comparing it to some of the spiritual states of the human soul which we can relate to.

The first of these seven attributes is sefirah Chessed. It can be understood as loving-kindness, the desire to bestow goodness on all creations, even if they don’t deserve it. The next attribute, Gevurah, is associated with the power to restrain the desire to bestow goodness, when the recipient is judged to be unworthy of it. That’s why Gevurah is also referred to in Kabbalah as midat hadin – “the attribute of judgment”.

The attribute of Chesed is parallel to the first day of Creation and to the first millennium of history as well. The first thousand years of human history are described in the Torah as a time of abundance and longevity. The life expectancy of people was hundreds of years, and all these years they did not have to cultivate the land in order to enjoy its fruit.

However, this world could not stand against “the attribute of judgment”, Gevurah, which manifested itself on the second “day”. In the middle of the second millennium, it was almost completely wiped off the face of the earth by a global flood, which is described in the weekly chapter “Noah”.

To be continued...

Based on the Rebbe’s talk on the Shabbat of Parashat “Noach”, 5752.

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