of men and angels

The Ohr HaHayyim HaKadosh describes how when God created the angels he reversed the normal order of things specifically so that no one might think the angels had a hand in creating the world. בדבר ה' שמים נעשו וברוח פיו כל צבאם - In the word of HaShem the heavens were established, and with the breath of His mouth, all of their hosts. Normally breath is a precursor to speech, but in this case, even though the angels were created through his breath, God made His speech work differently, such that the speech came before the breath and not after.

Coincidentally, I learned a day earlier what the Baal HaTanya has to say in comparing the creation of men and angels in his Iggeret HaTeshuvah. (part 3 of the Tanya) He explains that while the angels were created through speech, the externality of God's will, man was created from the inner essence of HaShem's will. This can be seen by the phrase ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים - and He blew into his nose, a living soul. It is explained that to blow requires a much more earnest effort than the small amount of breath expelled in speech. (מן דנפח מתוכיה נפח)

According to the teaching of R' Avraham Azulai in Hesed L'Avraham: He explains that while the awesome holiness of the angels (and constant awareness of the divine presence) surpasses our own, only man can bring about the unification of HaShem with the world, and increase infinitely the influx of HaShem's blessing in the world.

Finally we need to connect this with the Midrash (Midrash Rabbah Bereishit) that when Man was created, the angels couldn't tell him apart from HaShem.

What does all this say to me?
According to the Ohr HaHayyim, HaShem went to great lengths to quell any confusion about the angels' involvement in creation. He didn't take them as a partner, rather He created all the world and everything in it, in order that we could be His partners, that we could be close to him. אשר ברא אלקים לעשות - which the Lord created in order to do. HaShem created everything exactly as it is, so that we, who dwell in the world of עשיה the world of doing, could complete it through our actions.

Rebbe Nachman explains that the paradox that gives us free will is completely beyond our understanding and is the very same paradox that prevents the angels from having free will. (and similarly is beyond their comprehension)

When it comes down to it, the creation of man is the unknowable essence of the creation of the world. As it is taught בראשית, for Israel which is called ראשית (first) the world was created.


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