What does Hashem desire more - the deeds of the righteous or the deeds of the wicked?
(1,2) “And the earth was unformed and void, and darknesss was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of G-d was hovering over the face of the water.”
R. Abahu taught in the Midrash that from the beginning of creation Hashem saw the deeds of the righteous and the deeds of the wicked: “And the earth was unformed and void”- these are the deeds of the wicked, “And G-d said: Let there be light” - these are the deeds of the righteous. But I don’t know which of them He desires. However, since it says “And G-d saw the light that it was good”, it is clear that He desires the deeds of the righteous.
Various commentaries have expressed amazement at this Midrash, because who would be foolish enough to think that Hashem desires the deeds of the wicked, and in addition think that He desires them even more than the deeds of the righteous?!
But it seems to me that there is a simple explanation of this Midrash according to the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos 5:1 which says that Hashem created the world with ten sayings. But surely He could have created the world with only one saying! But He did this in order to punish the wicked who destroy the world that was created with ten sayings, and to reward the righteous who sustain the world that was created with ten sayings.
From this Mishnah we see that Hashem created the world for these two reasons - to punish the wicked according to their deeds, and to reward the righteous according to their deeds, and with this the name of Heaven is sanctified. As Chazal taught: Just as the praises of Hashem rise up from Gan Eden when He fulfils His kindness to His beloved ones, to those who observe His commandments, so too the praises of Hashem rise up from Gehinnom when He metes out justice to the evildoers according to their evil deeds. This is the intention of the Midrash when it says that the light and the darkness allude to the deeds of the righteous and to the deeds of the wicked, and in order to pay each one according to their deeds Hashem created the world with ten sayings.
So now we understand well why the Midrash says that it is unclear which of them Hashem desires more - whether He desires those of the righteous to pay them a fine reward for their deeds, or those of the wicked to punish them for their wickedness, since either way His name is sanctified. Therefore it says “and G-d (El-him) saw the light that it was good”. That is, that even the attribute of justice which the name El-him signifies is merciful and does not desire the demise of the wicked, but instead desires that they should repent their ways and take hold of the deeds of the righteous which are called light because “it is good”, and thus He desires that there be a separation between the light and the darkness. Then at the end of their days they will be granted goodness.
And behold, the allusion to reward and punishment comes at the beginning of the Torah because it is one of the three essential beliefs that every religious person must believe in, and that all the more so we, the children of the Torah, should believe in. And one who denies reward and punishment denies also that the Torah was given by Hashem, another of the esssential beliefs. And from these things the third essential belief - that Hashem supervises our every deed - is also alluded to, as is clear to anyone who thinks about it.