Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson
(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 8:1)

Attributing Our Innovations to Hashem


Various Rabbis

Beit Shammai say: [The text of the beracha is] "Shebara meor ha’esh" (Who created the light of the fire). Beit Hillel says: "Borei meorei ha’esh" (Who created the lights of the fire).

Ein Ayah: At the foundation of the beracha on fire is the following important idea. It is not just those things that Hashem created directly that are to be considered His creations. Rather, we are to attribute to Hashem even "artificial" things that man with his innovations develops through nature. This is because Hashem created nature in such a manner that it is fit to join up with human intellect, which itself is a creation of Hashem, designed to uncover and create powers in the natural world, as these discoveries become appropriate.
For this reason, we recite a beracha on the first discovery/innovation that mankind made with his G-d-given wisdom: fire/light. Our Rabbis already taught us (Pesachim 54a) that Hashem gave Adam a divine inspiration, and he rubbed two stones together and produced fire from between them.
This idea serves as a prototype for the proper outlook on all future matters that man developed. All individual discoveries are to be viewed as a product of Hashem, as they are discovered in each generation. It is like the vegetation of the field, where each species has its own time when it sprouts forth. When the time comes for a certain natural power to be discovered or harnessed by mankind, the factors arise to kindle man’s interest and/or ability to do so. Our recognition of Hashem’s part in this type of creation, as well, is thus parallel to our observance of Shabbat to recognize that which Hashem did during the six days of creation. The difference is that on Shabbat, we credit Hashem for creation, in general, in which man had no part. In the beginning of the new week of human activity, we testify that even all of our actions are actually from Hashem, with man’s discovery and development of fire being one of them.
[In his introduction to Ein Ayah, Rav Kook referenced this piece. There he said that just as we attribute to Hashem our ability to discover things that are planted in the physical natural world, so too we attribute to His providence man’s ability to uncover ideas that are hidden in the Torah, the purely intellectual. Hashem’s providence allows ideas planted in the words of the Torah and Chazal to be discovered and used in later generations.]
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