Midreshet Amit

Torah

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Self Reflection and Reaffirmation of our Mission

By: Mrs. Malka Hubscher

This week with great enthusiasm and anticipation we begin the Torah from the very beginning. As we embark on the challenge of returning to regular life after all the holidays, we are reminded of the importance of hitchadshut, renewal. Just as we begin the Torah again every year, we must inspire ourselves to restart our spiritual life as well. We often become complacent and fall into habits and familiar routines, the New Year and the beginning of the Torah, reminds us to self reflect and reaffirm our priorities.

The first book of the Torah does not begin with Laws or directives, but with the mysterious story of creation and the Garden of Eden. These chapters are difficult for us to comprehend and often leave us with more questions than answers. However, one refrain that appears after each day of creation in the opening chapter of Beresheit is, “and G-d saw that it was good”, or sometime “very good.” This is perhaps written to help us relate a bit more to the creation story.

G-d is the epitome of perfection, yet His world is not “perfect” or even “great, it is “good.”  Rav Steinsaltz explains that when G-d created the world, he intentionally left some things in an incomplete state. When man is created, he is charged with the mission of completing and improving the world which Hashem created. As the pasuk in Chapter two explains :

- , :  -, - .

On the seventh day, G-d rested and sanctified the day. The Pasuk ends with an awkward word -”to do.” This in essence, is man’s call to action, to partner with G-d in creation. Man is placed not simply to maintain the world which G-d has created, but to become an active partner in improving the world which G-d created.  Rav Steinsaltz quotes the the midrash in which states: , everything which G-d created requires some human intervention and improvement. Our mission in the world is not only to recognize G-d as the Creator, but to partner with Him to improve and advance the natural world.

 

The world began with great idealism and anticipation. The hope was that man would rise to the occasion and positively affect the world around him. However, the tragedy is that by the end of the Parsha Hashem is greatly disappointed by mankind. The pasuk in 6:5 says :

, , - , -.

And the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

G-d sees that man has chosen evil and corrupt ways and the destruction of the world (the flood)  is already inevitable.

In a discussion about this Pasuk, the Talmud in quotes R’ Yizchak who teaches, , a person has to struggle daily with his evil inclination.  Perhaps we can extrapolate from this, that the great downfall of mankind in this parsha does not come from any major paradigm shifts or historic revolutions, but rather a series of small daily decisions that led society down the path of immorality and corruption.

The great contrast between the beginning of the Parsha and the end, exhibits the two extremes of mankind. Our success and failures are a result of small seemingly insignificant decisions that either lead us to greatness, or G-d forbid the destruction of society. May we strengthen and inspire ourselves to begin this New Year with a sense of duty and conviction to improve and better our world and uplift the greater society around us.