The Torah portion of Bereishis speaks about the creation of the world. All of creation came about, as the Mishnah states in Avos,1 as the result of ten Divine utterances. Indeed, continues the Mishnah , creation could have resulted from a single utterance, were it not for G‑d’s desire to offer mankind more opportunities for reward and punishment.

So significant is the number ten — “the complete number”2 — that the Mishnah enumerates other times the number occurs, such as the ten tests of Avraham and the ten miracles performed for our forefathers in Egypt.

But why does the Mishnah fail to mention that the Torah itself was given in Ten Commandments? Our Sages note,3 after all, that the ten Divine utterances of creation correspond to these Commandments!

The significance of the number ten lies in the fact that G‑d, having brought about Creation through ten utterances, thereby imbued the world with a nature such that ten units signify a complete state, corresponding to the ten supernal Sefiros from whence the material universe emanates. The number ten is thus considered a “complete number” because it signifies a complete state.

However, this in no way implies that G‑d found the number ten to be an indispensable characteristic of completion; it is merely that G‑d chose the number ten to indicate completion. G‑d could have employed a different number of supernal Sefiros , and thus a different figure — corresponding to that number of Sefiros — would signify completion.

The relevance of the number ten to the Torah’s Ten Commandments can be understood accordingly:

The Midrash states4 that the Torah served as G‑d’s blueprint for creation. Understandably, this blueprint contained all of creation’s parameters, including the fact that its state of completion finds expression in the number ten.

Thus, the fact that the Torah was given in Ten Commandments is not a function of this number per se. Rather, the opposite is the case: ten is “the complete number” only because the Torah was given in the form of Ten Commandments. This in turn led to a universe that finds fulfillment through the number ten.

Hence, the Mishnah could not possibly list the Ten Commandments as one of the things reflecting the consummate state of ten, for the fact that the Torah was given through Ten Commandments does not serve to indicate the complete state of Torah. Rather, because the Torah contains the aspect of ten — the Ten Commandments — the importance of the other things enumerated in the Mishnah is established.

But even though G‑d decided that the number ten would constitute a completed state within creation, He is in no way limited by this. For inasmuch as G‑d defies any and all limitations, He is not limited even by His own actions, and can create things whose states of completion do not find expression in the aspect of ten at all.

This is similar to those miracles that change the ordered nature of existence; although the world obeys the “laws of nature,” it does so only because, and only for as long as, G‑d desires it to do so. He can just as easily suspend these laws in order to perform miracles. Thereby G‑d amply demonstrates that even after He has established the rules by which nature operates, He is by no means limited by them.

This concept is indicated in the Mishnah when it states that the world need not have been created with ten Divine utterances; it could have been created with only one. The Mishna speaks not only of G‑d’s ability to create the universe with one utterance, but informs us that even after He created the world using ten utterances, He is still entirely capable of changing the rules.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Bereishis 5747