Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TEFILA: Standing on solid ground

כשהוא מניח רגליו על הקרקע, הוא אומר: ברוך...רוקע הארץ על המים

The Rabbis of the Talmud said that when we wake up, as we are getting out of bed and we step on the solid ground, we should recite the blessing "Blessed are you, haShem our Lord, King of the universe, Who extends the dry-land over the waters".

The words of this berakha are borrowed from a verse in Tehilim (Psalms, 136:6) in which King David praises and thanks the Creator of the world for all His favors toward mankind, among them, the creation of dry land (=the continents). 

Dry land was not, technically speaking, "created" (=out of nothing) but extended over the waters. According to the Tora God ordered the waters to recede and gather together so dry-land could be seen as it emerged from the oceans and spread over the planet's surface (1:9).
Contrary to what ancient civilizations believed, but compatible with what modern science affirms, our Rabbis asserted that upon its creation planet earth's surface was covered by water.   The Tora refers to this in the second pasuq of Genesis. The earth's surface is defined as "tehom", i.e., the oceans in their primitive state, before they were organized into yammim (= our oceans), see Gen. 1:10. As this blessing states, on the surface of our planet water was there first, before land, and not the other way around.

In a different Psalm (Tehilim 104:9) but referring to the same event our blessing describes, Kind David also remind us that the Creator has established a "border" (gebul) to the waters --an invisible miraculous fence which we call "gravity"-- by which He rules the dynamics between the oceans and the continental land, allowing life to continue.   

מה רבו מעשיך ה'

Intelligent (and astoundingly beautiful) design underwater.  By David Gallo, from TED.com