According to Genesis 1, the world was created with words. This is the core of Jewish wisdom.

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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.

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5 Responses to “Words”

  1. Wanda B. Olive says:

    Yet, isn’t the “ruah” what was first breathed into creation? Spirit breathed into creation. Words seem to have been the result of creation that could comprehend the effects of the “ruah” into existence.

    • Ruach is breath. In Genesis 1, Ruach is not created–it is simply there.

      Breath is necessary for language (words). In Genesis 1, Breath through God produces the words, “Let there be light.” These very words create the light.

      In other words, Breath and words are inextricably linked in the Genesis 1 passage. Breath comes first (though not created), but it is the words from Breath (Ruach) that do the actual creating.

      • Mike Burrell says:

        It seems to me that words and language are related to things or or ideas or actions. When confronted with something new or strange we struggle to describe or name it, a whatja micallit or thing -a-magig. Does God name things or does he/she will them. Can an unspoken word
        be said in silence, what is an unspoken word( thought)? Words are powerful but outside of magicians and their special words we don’t use language to manifest things into existence. I am skeptical that magicians actually do it. So if God does then how do we compare God’s language to what we and other species use
        ? To speak implies God has breath or life and that gods words have the life, death ,creation/destruction, maybe the nature of things. Oh I’m starting to tire, I may mis-speak
        so I rest. I’m glad it didn’t take seven days, aren’t you?

        • Words are not necessarily language, as we think of it. For example, a cell is a book of words in a sense that imprints a set of instructions into its very being. For that reason, our bodies are composed of millions of those books of “words.” Life itself probably began as a set of instructions (“words”) in the chemical form of RNA and DNA. Presumably the universe began in some such way. So, when I say “words,” I am not necessarily referring to human language (which is one kind of symbol system), but to any kind of patterns or forms (including atoms and molecules, images, rhythms) that establish a cohesive, structured system that functions integratively.

          “Words” are a metaphor for something much deeper and broader than human language. For Jews the word, “word,” is important because we see our tradition primarily through a text that was given on Mount Sinai. Yet even the text on Mount Sinai is not solely a series of words, but a mystical pattern of meaning embedded in those words. The “words” are a window into an even more profound “word” that is not human or linguistic.

          I hope that clarifies.

          • Mike Burrell says:

            This does help clarify. It also raises many other thoughts. The cells communicate with each other, then to to an organism made up of cells but that act as a individual collectives that communicates with other organism, on and on to form a person. The person communicates back to the individual cell and the cell to the person? The words on Mt Sinai form the pattern which becomes Torah I guess? So God communicated the world into existence there seems to be a structure but also a dynamic to this communication. We strive to put language to it all. I wonder if that was the forbid fruit, that we search for knowledge, which brings us to face our mortality/immortality, that makes us consider cells and how they communicate, how the source (God) communicates. Seems like by chasing the small and the large we chase are own tails. That is not always a bad thing. It is curious how vast the communication stretches out. It is a good thing I have some self conceit otherwise I would think myself little more than a cell. Come to think of it those cells are amazing too!

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