Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Regretful God, from the comments section

Previously(see Better to have lived post below), I mentioned the paradox between God's creation of man, and statements in the gemara that it is better not to have been born at all, than to have been born, and in Kohelet that the day of death is better than the day of birth. J.I. pointed out that at the end of parshat B'reisheit, God himself says "nechamti ki asitiv" I regret making him(referring to man, and probably all of creation, given what it says in the previous pasuk). The Ohr Hachayim there explains that Hashem sometimes rules with middat ha din(strict justice), and sometimes with middat ha rachamim(mercy). When the overall actions of man tilt to the good, then Hashem rules with rachamim, and the midda of din has to acquiece. When the overall actions tilt bad, Hashem rules with din, and the midda of rachamim has to give in. In this case, the regret expressed is by the midda of rachamim, in having to accept Hashem's ruling with din, and that the punishment will be the upcoming flood. This construct doesn't exactly fit the wording in the Torah.
The Ohr Hachayim also explains how Hashem didn't 'know' how man's actions were going to turn out. He says that Hashem allowed himself to see the future good deeds of man, but did not look to see the future bad deeds. The purpose is not only to allow man to have free choice, but also to deny evil doers the excuse that "you knew I was going to do bad, so its not my fault." This concept would also explain how Hashem could have regret, since he did not "look" to see how much evil would be done(the previous pesukim indicate that a lot of evil was going on).

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