“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.”( 1:6-8)
God spends one-sixth of his entire creative effort (the second day) working on a solid firmament. This strange structure, which God calls heaven, is intended to separate the higher waters from the lower waters.
On one level we understand that on the second day of creation, G-d created the water condensation system. Called the ” firmament” Water turns into vapor, a gas, and rises into the sky, where it forms clouds, which eventually lead to rain. This is what waters everything on earth and sustains life on the planet. It’s very important, and that’s what GOD created on the second day.
On a deeper level The Ramban suggests that it is a deep mystery that is difficult for the average person to understand. He does also suggest, however, that the best way to understand what happened on the second day of creation is that G-d separated the physical world– what we can see and experience with our five senses– from the spiritual world– what is beyond our direct ability to comprehend. So the firmament, is actually the spiritual world that we can reach by studying the Bible and doing the commandments.
The Bible teaches that the Heavens and
the earth were created on the first day of
Creation. For the time being, we will put
aside what the Heavens are, what the earth
is, and what a day is in this context, but let
us focus on the fact that the Heavens and earth have been created as of day one.
Given that the Heavens and earth have
already been created, we should be
puzzled when we see statements on day
two which imply that G-d separates the
heavens from the earth on day two. As it
says “G-d said, ‘Let there be
a firmament between the waters” and then
goes on to say that this firmament
separates between “the waters above”
(ostensibly sky-bound water e.g. clouds)
and “the waters below” (e.g. oceans, lakes,
etc.). Why does the Bible seem to repeat
the creation of the firmament which divides
between Heaven and earth? It is created
once on day one, and then mentioned more
specifically on day two. Rashi quotes a Midrash
which explains the apparent repetition. The
firmament had been created on the first
day, but was somehow unstable. In the
Book of Job (26:11) the day-one firmament
is described as if the very pillars of Heaven
were weak. The Midrash explains that
when G-d says on day two, “let there be a
firmament”, this command was experienced
as a awesome roar. It was as if the
firmament became awestruck “like a person
who is shocked and stands still from the
roar of One who is threatening him.” It is as
if the Bible were describing three phases
to the creation of the firmament: its
creation, its experience of becoming
awestruck by the roar of the Almighty, and
its ultimate stabilization.
From another perspective :
The basic formula for photosynthesis is as follows:
6CO2 + 12H2O + sunlight <-> C6H12O6 + 6H2O + 6O2 Equation 1
The three input components of photosynthesis-light, water and carbon dioxide-correspond to the three basic components of Creation as highlighted in Kabbalah: light, water (, mayim), and the firmament (, rakia). The firmament is that element which separates G-dliness (or light) from the lower world (or water). The relationship between these three elements is figuratively depicted in the letter alef, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which comprises an upper point (light), a lower point (water) and a diagonal line separating them (the firmament)
Hence it can be said that photosynthesis manages the interaction between Divine energy and the world. This is expressed both by the descent of carbon dioxide and oxygen atoms into carbohydrates (the source of sweetness in the world), as well as by the ascent of the oxygen atoms of water (the source of earthly pleasure, as taught by our sages: water propagates all manner of pleasure) as the oxygen gas released by the plant (enabling the Divine pleasure of the soul, the ‘breath’ of G-d).
This connection between the upper and lower realms finds its most noticeable expression in what the Zohar refers to as ‘the union of the upper and lower waters’. According to the commentary Ashmoret Haboker on the Zohar, this union represents the unification of Torah knowledge (higher wisdom) and worldly knowledge (lower wisdom)- or the wisdom of the nations The hour that best reflects this coming together of the upper and lower realms is that of the third meal on Shabbat afternoon, whose messianic character makes it conducive for contemplating the significance of the plant (tzemach), the symbol of the Messiah.
The Zohar states that “God looked into [the letters of] the Bible and created the universe.” The Divine act of Creation is referred to by the metaphor of speech.
The root אמר, “to say”, is an acronym for the first three primary creations: light (אור), water (מים), firmament (רקיע). These represent the three stages in the materialization of the creative seed, as taught by the Arizal:
light —the spiritual origin of the seed in the mind , before it is emanated, still only in potential in the God Head
water— physical manifestation of seed , the energy after emanation
firmament– the beginning of conception in the womb –. Shaping of the Energy so to create something in this physical world.
The firmament (רקיע), derives from the root רקע, “to stretch”, represents all states of positive tension- energy fields- in nature.
The third utterance is “Let there be a firmament between the waters and let it separate between water and water”. It maps to the third sfira, which is Bina, Understanding. Bina is the type of understanding where ideas exist separately, can be scrutinized and comprehended. Bina is the level where division first exists. The very first division was the firmament, the rakia.
Our Rabbis teach in the name of Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Pinchas and R’ Yaakov the son of Avin in the name of R’ Yishmael the son of Nachman – At the time the Holy One Blessed Be He said “Let there be a firmament between the waters” the middle drop congealed/froze and there was made the lower heavens and the upper heavens. (Breishit Rabba 4:7)
The separation between water and water became the separation of the upper heavens and the lower heavens. Certainly Scripture is telling us something of our physical reality, but even more about our spiritual reality. Heavens in Hebrew is shamayim, which it is taught means “there is water”, “fire and water”, “loaded with water”, etc. (Breishit Rabbah 4:7). Water, that which makes our planet unique in the ability to support life.
At a physical level, water is made of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms bound with strong ionic bonds. The atomic number of oxygen is 8, that of hydrogen is 1. The sum of the atomic numbers in one molecule of water is 10.
lets try understand what is being said
Plants are made on the third day before there was a sun to drive their photosynthetic processes (1:14-19). 1:11
your assumption is correct, this could not be talking about physical creation of plants (it refers to their root and and source in the upper spiritual worlds)
this is confirmed by the latter verse
5. Now no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because the Lord God had not brought rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work the soil. (2:5)
Their creation on the third day was only in potential, only created was their spiritual source
This verse should be explained to mean that no tree was yet on the earth . As the creation of the world was completed till the sixth day, when man was created.
No herb of the field had yet grown. And on the third day, where it is written:“Let the earth bring forth,” they [the plants] had not yet emerged, but they stood at the entrance of the ground, in a potential state until the sixth day.
And why? Because He had not caused it to rain, and the sun was not set in the sky. There was no man to work the soil, and no one recognized the benefit of rain, but when man came and understood that they were essential to the world, he prayed for them, and they fell, and the trees and the herbs sprouted.
This sequence of events points us to recognize the spiritual root of all things.
The Bible also wants to emphasize that the sun is not in the center of or maybe even the origin of our “solar” system.
There is a Higher spiritual source-the God
We can see from this that thing such as even plants at their spiritual root they were not ordained in the basis of the obvious matters of this world, but rather they are high, distant, and wonderful indeed.
“Were the Torah (Bible) mere law, were the Torah given only to direct the people which path to follow, its laws and details would not be ordained on the basis of such fine and lofty distinctions, which can be sensed only after extraordinary and exhausting effort” . . . therefore, those who come to understand the Torah purely through human analysis, . . . will certainly err and reveal
For the thoughts of humanity are not the thoughts of God . . .
All subjects found in this world begin in the upper worlds, and their true existence is there, and they themselves descend via myriads of worlds until they reach our world with its feeble existence .. .
Just as there is nothing physical that does not have a root in the spiritual, so too there is nothing in the higher realms that does not descend to our lowest world . . . we can deduce that all the comprehension we have of the straightforward things of our world, can also enable us to comprehend the highest spiritual matters in their own terms, for in fact they are all one.
The Holy Torah is the spirit and root of Creation, and the world was created in accordance with it – “the Holy One Blessed Be He looked into the Torah and created the universe”.
Therefore all things found in creation are at their proper core and root in accord with the categories of the Holy Torah . . .
By knowing the spiritual nature of the source of our evolving worlds and physical creation one can be a partner with God in the work of creation.
G-d created many different spiritual concepts, forces and entities with which to create and direct the universe. Spiritual concepts can consist of such opposites as good and evil, or justice and mercy; as well as the basic concepts of giving and receiving, which are the spiritual roots of masculinity and femininity. There are also countless angels and spiritual potentials, all interacting to bring about the processes through which the universe is directed and guided.
The Bible in its beginning is teaching us concerning the Spiritual source of all things