This weekend it occurred to me that the authors of the midrashim depict God as making one mistake after another during the Six Days of Creation.
He makes light, but apparently miscalculates: the light its too bright and must be hidden away for the righteous. When He creates two giant lights for the heavens, He fails to consider that giant lights can be prima donnas: one light turns out to be something of a whiner. It needs to be cut down to size; afterwards – another adjustment – God compensates it with a retinue of stars. A Leviathan is created but God seems to have miscalculated again. The beast’s tremendous bulk makes its continued existence impractical, so it is slaughtered and put on ice for the righteous. God orders the earth to produce trees with bark and leaves that taste like their fruit, but the earth disobeys and God just goes along with it and lets himself be overruled. What kind of bumbler is this Creator?
Though I am certain the clever speakers can tell us what all if this is “meant to teach us” and turn God’s difficulties into inspirational messages. I prefer to wonder at the audacity of the midrashic writers. How do such depictions communicate awe and fear of the Almighty? In their depictions, our all-knowing and perfect God is made to seem as if he is just making things up as He goes along. Perhaps this is possible because the God they imagine is less perfect and less powerful than the God we imagine.