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Jewish Concepts: Loving-kindness

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning ELoHYM created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 2:4

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the YHVH ELoHYM made the earth and the heavens.

Your Midrash Navigator

The Divine Name ELoHYM usually refers to God as Judge throughout the Torah, even human judges are sometimes referred to as ELOHYM. This fact is not lost on the rabbis and is the key to understanding why the Divine ineffable Name YHVH is inserted in the concluding verse.

Midrash Rabbah – Genesis 12:15

"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the YHVH ELoHYM made the earth and the heavens," [Why does the creation begin with the Divine Name ELoHYM as the Creator and end with two Names, YHVH ELoHYM when concluding the creation story? The Midrash explains:] This may be compared to a king who had some empty glasses. The King wondered: ' If I pour hot water into them, they will burst; if, however, I pour cold water, they will contract [and shatter]. ' What then did the king do? He poured in a mixture of hot and cold water so the glasses would remain whole. So, said the Holy One: "If I create the world on the basis of mercy alone, its sins will be oppressive; on the basis of judgment alone, how would the world be able to exist?. I will create it with justice and mercy together and then, maybe, it will be able to stand!" That is why the Name YHVH is added to the Name ELoHYM.

Your Midrash Navigator

1. Did God make a mistake the first time around?

Values of Our Fathers 1:2

Shimon HaTzadik was one of the last living members of the "Great Assembly." He used to say: The world stands on three things. On Torah. On Service. On acts of Lovingkindness.

Tanach - Psalms Chapter 85

1. To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.
2. (K) Lord, you have been favorable to your land; you have brought back the captivity of Jacob.
3. You have forgiven the iniquity of your people, you have pardoned all their sin. Selah.
4. You have withdrawn all your wrath; you have turned from the fierceness of your anger.
5. Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cease your anger toward us.
6. Will you be angry with us for ever? Will you draw out your anger to all generations?
7. Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
8. Show us your loving kindness, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
9. I will hear what God the Lord will speak; for he will speak peace to his people, and to his pious ones; but let them not turn back to folly.
10. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.
11. Loving kindness and truth meet; righteousness and peace kiss (confront) each other.
12. Truth shall spring from the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
13. Also, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her produce.
14. Righteousness shall go before him; and walk in the way of his steps.

Your Psalm Navigator

1. Look at verses 11 and 12. Why are lovingkindness and truth seen as opposites?
2. How do you understand verse 12? What is the relationship between truth and righteousness?

Midrash Rabbah – Genesis 8:5

"Rabbi Simon said,"At the moment the Holy One chose to create the first ADaM the ministering angels broke up into factions. Some of them said, "Create him;" while others said, "Don't do it." Thus it is written: "Lovingkindness and truth will meet, righteousness and peace will kiss.;" (Psalms 85:11)

Lovingkindness said: Create him, for he will do acts of lovingkindness.
Truth said: Don't create him, for he is drenched in lies.
Righteousness said: Create him, for he will do much Tzedaka.
Peace said: Don't do it, for he is essentially quarrelsome.

What did the Holy One do? He took Truth and cast it toward the earth.
Thus it is written, "And truth will be cast to the earth." (Daniel 8:12)

The ministering angels said: Sovereign of the Universe, Why do You shame the leader of Your court? Let truth rise from the earth. Thus it is written, "Truth will arise from the earth." (Psalms 85:12)

Your Midrash Navigator

1. This Midrash serves as a creative way for understanding verses 11 and 12 in Psalm 85. They see the meeting of lovingkindness and truth and righteousness and peace as suggesting a narrative between God and angels. How did you understand these verses before you read the Midrash?
2. What does it mean that truth was given to the earth and rises from it?

Sources: Rabbi Avi Weinstein, Director, Hillel's Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning. Reprinted with permission.