Gershon Hepner

Why God Created Imperfections

The heavenly ruler looking down corrected
the inadequacy of Giotto by creating Michelangelo, declared Giorgio Vasari.
I think that God far more than Giotto imperfected
His creations because he enjoys provoking, especially when it is sacrilegious, sarcassery.

He could, of course, have made his magisterial magnum opus, which was Man, quite pristine,
but even before he allowed imperfect Man to eat a fatal apple
He maintained a greater distance from Him than the one depicted in the Sistine,
and far, far larger than the one between observers and the ceiling of the chapel,
which is the reason why imperfect Man is waiting constantly for Godot,
failing better all the time, though not as well as Michelangelo or Giotto.

On every New Moon God repents the fact
That He reduced one sun by shrinking it, to be the moon, an imperfection
in nature which He chose not to subtract
to show that He to all its rule Himself accepts, as we must do, subjection.

The last quatrain alludes to a midrash on Gen. 1:16, providing an explanation for the alleged atonement that, according to some rabbis, God seeks on every Rosh Hodesh, New Moon, for having caused the moon’s diminution. This differs from the explanation suggested by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik.

Gen. 1:16 states:

טז  וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-שְׁנֵי הַמְּאֹרֹת הַגְּדֹלִים:  אֶת-הַמָּאוֹר הַגָּדֹל, לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַיּוֹם, וְאֶת-הַמָּאוֹר הַקָּטֹן לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַלַּיְלָה, וְאֵת הַכּוֹכָבִים. 16 And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars.

Rashi explains:

המארת הגדולים. שָׁוִים נִבְרְאוּ וְנִתְמַעֲטָה הַלְּבָנָה עַל שֶׁקִּטְרְגָה וְאָמְרָה אִ”אֶ לִשְׁנֵי מְלָכִים שֶׁיִשְׁתַּמְּשׁוּ בְכֶתֶר אֶחָד:
המאורות הגדולים THE GREAT LUMINARIES — They were created of equal size, but that of the moon was diminished because she complained and said, “It is impossible for two kings to make use of one crown” (Hullin 60b).2
ואת הכוכבים. עַל יְדֵי שֶׁמִּעֵט אֶת הַלְּבָנָה הִרְבָּה צְבָאָיהָ לְהָפִיס דַּעְתָּהּ:
ואת הכוכבים AND THE STARS — Because He diminished the moon, He increased its attendant hosts to mollify it (Genesis Rabbah 6:4).

Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik writes in a footnote to his Rosh Hashanah Mahzor (p. 529):

The diminution of the sun also represents the exile of the Divine Presence, reflected in Israel’s own exile and the resultant persecution. As a result of the difficulties that He has caused man, through both natural catastrophes and persecution, both represented by diminution of the moon, God requires an atonement on Rosh Chodesh.

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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