Throughout the course of this work, I have found myself overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude on a regular—in fact, weekly— basis. This happens on Saturday evenings, at the conclusion of the Sabbath, as I recite the havdalah service, surrounded by family. These thoughts well up within me as I pronounce the blessing for the creation of fire, over the soft glow of a large candle of many wicks. The origins of this rite are found in a rabbinic parallel to the myth of Prometheus and the origins of fire. The Talmud (b. Pesaḥim 54b) says that there were two things God withheld and did not create during the six days of Creation: fire and the mule. At the conclusion of the Sabbath, God brought Adam two stones of flint, endowed him with understanding, and enabled him to create fire. And He brought him a horse and a donkey, and endowed him with the wisdom to crossbreed them, and create a mule. Put differently, at the conclusion of the Sabbath of Creation, human creativity itself was brought into the world, and Adam became empowered as a partner in the act of creation, bringing into the world that which God had not created in the previous six days.
Reciting the blessing over the fire that commemorates Adam’s first creative act overwhelms me with gratitude, as I look forward to a week of my own creative work. Just as Adam created out of that which he had been given, so, too, I feel keenly aware of the fact that my own creative work is but a function of what I have been given, the exposure that I have had to those who have taught me, to great