Truth and Torah – The Purpose of Creation
It is written, “You grant truth to Jacob, kindness to Abraham” (Micah 7:20). How can the attribute of truth that was granted to Jacob be recognized? Why was it granted specifically to Jacob, and what is the deeper significance of this?
The Midrash states, “When the Holy One, blessed be He, came to create Adam, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups and parties, some them saying, ‘Let him be created,’ while others urged, ‘Let him not be created.’ Thus it is written, ‘Love and Truth fought together, Righteousness and Peace combated each other’ [Psalms 85:11, as interpreted by the Midrash]. Love said, ‘Let him be created, because he will dispense acts of love.’ Truth said, ‘Let him not be created, because he is compounded of falsehood.’ Righteousness said, ‘Let him be created, because he will perform righteous deeds.’ Peace said, ‘Let him not be created, because he is full of strife.’ What did the L-rd do? He took Truth and cast it to the ground. Said the ministering angel before the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Why do You despise Your seal? Let Truth arise from the earth!’ Hence it is written, ‘Let Truth spring up from the earth’ [Psalms 85:12]” (Bereshith Rabba 8:5).
First of all, we must ask why G-d asked the angels for their opinion, as it is written: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The Hebrew word for “Let us make” is in the plural, which indicates that G-d took counsel from the angels and asked them if He should create man or not. We must also ask why G-d cast Truth down, rather than Peace, since it too opposed man’s creation. Rashi’s response is brought by the commentary Etz Yossef on the Midrash: “Peace’s opposition was not as serious an impediment as that of Truth.” Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk said concerning this subject that “when truth is expelled, it necessarily follows that we make peace, for nobody can any longer claim that he is correct.”
If we understand why Truth was cast to the ground, we will also understand why the attribute of Truth was specifically granted to Jacob.
We know that the world was created with the attribute of Truth, since it is G-d’s seal (Shabbat 55a; Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 1:1), and Creation confirms the existence of the Creator. The last letters in the words Bereshith bara Elokim form the word Emet (Truth – see Ilana D’Chayei, among others). Truth told G-d to create neither the world nor man, and that it was better to leave things as they were. G-d responded, however, that it was essentially and primarily for man that the world was created, for man is the goal of Creation in the Divine scheme of things. The entire world would be entrusted to man, and he would receive the Torah, which is Truth (Yerushalmi Rosh Hashanah 3:8), as it is written: “Buy the truth and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23).
To say that G-d created the world for the Torah and Israel means that it was necessary to create the world, and man must of course be created with Truth – the Torah – in order to understand his purpose and the world can continue to exist.
Therefore Truth did not present a valid argument to G-d. If man had not been created, there would have been no reason to create the world, which is why G-d rejected Truth. However He did not reject Peace, for it may be that its argument did not refer to the Torah, but only to the fact that man would be quarrelsome, and Shalom (Peace) is one of G-d’s Names (Shabbat 10b). Hence the reason why G-d did not reject Peace.
It is stated that Jacob “was a wholesome man, abiding in tents” (Genesis 25:27), which indicates that he studied Torah in the academies of Shem and Ever (Bereshith Rabba 63:10). It was specifically for men such as he that the world was created, for he was an upright man, one attached to truth and who, according to Rashi, “did not know how to lie.” The fact that Truth was granted to Jacob is indicated by the word ish (man), the first letter of which (aleph) along with the letters of the word tam (wholesome, upright) together form the word Emet (Truth). Jacob is the purpose of the world, as it is written: “For the L-RD’s portion is His people; Jacob is the measure of His inheritance” (Deuteronomy 32:9). Jacob is also the “elect of the Patriarchs” (Bereshith Rabba 71:1). It was therefore appropriate that he be created and come into the world.
We now understand why G-d was so angry at Truth, which was opposed to the creation of man. Man’s creation was a good thing, since later on Jacob (whose primary characteristic was truth) would be born. The attribute granted to Abraham, namely Kindness (“Love” in the Midrash), agreed with man’s creation, which demonstrates that the merit of Jacob, the upright man, is sufficient to justify the creation of the world. This is because G-d desires the deeds of upright men, as it is written: “Light [alludes] to the actions of the righteous” (Bereshith Rabba 2:5). G-d finds delight and rejoices in seeing that the world is not lacking upright men, and the existence of the wicked does not diminish the pleasure that He receives from people who are truly upright.
We know that the world was created because of Jacob’s merit, since from him would descend the 12 tribes of Israel, “The tribes of G-d, a testimony for Israel” (Psalms 122:4). Israel, Jacob’s name that designates the entire people, is formed by the words yashar (upright) and E–L (one of G-d’s Names). This means that in every place and at all times, the tribes of Israel are witnesses to divine justice and wisdom. They testify to G-d’s justice, to His faithfulness in all that He does, and to His kindness in man’s creation. The attributes and the image of our father Jacob are engraved on the Celestial Throne (Zohar I:168a). This testifies to G-d’s kindness, charity, and justice in the creation of the world and man, and for its part the Jewish people recognize divine justice and testify that the world has a Creator. G-d was angry at Truth because it is precisely the attribute of Truth – the Torah – that necessitates and indeed justifies the creation of the world and man. The goal of Creation is the Torah, and man’s task is to observe, study, and obey its commandments.