The Jewish Bible, the Tanach, is a written document. Why God did not just ‘implement’ its wisdom into our hearts? why have it as a book to read?
One answer is that God wants us to have a part in the creative process. He doesn’t give us everything on a plate. He doesn’t hardwire us with everything, but He wants us to make an effort and take part in the creative process. There’s a famous discussion in the book of ‘Gmara’ where one lady asks one of the sages: ‘If God thinks that circumcision is the right thing, then why didn’t He create man already fully circumcised?’ And the sage answers with: ‘God wants to give us a part, a ‘Helek’ (Hebrew: חלק) in the creation. We should have something to do.’
The beauty of the creation is that God did not complete it… We have to complete the creation.
It says at the beginning of Genesis that God created the world with the ten sayings (Hebrew: ‘Asara Mamaron’ עשרה מאמרות.) The sayings bring into being everything and keep everything in existence. That’s the creative process, where God makes the world (Hebrew: ‘Bereishit Bara Elokim’). Now, the name Elokim has got the same numerical value of הטבע HaTeva, which is the Hebrew word for nature. However, it also means that God’s infinite life is concealed within the creation, within nature – ready for us to reveal.
The belief is that He created life but there is something that He also left hidden for us to reveal, and in that way reveal the presence of God in the world. So, we have a work to do… He wants us to reveal Him…
The question we can ask is: ‘If it’s all there already in nature, why do we have to labour to uncover it? Why do we have to labour through meditation and actions, to feel God and bring God?’…
The answer is: fulfilment. We should feel fulfilled. If we were to get a ‘ready-made’ spiritual life on a plate, so to speak, we would not be fulfilled. In Hebrew this is called ‘Ne’emah D’chesufah’, the bread of HaShem (God) – which means that everything is given to you on a plate. You then do not earn it, you don’t work for it; and this is not as satisfying. So, God gives us something to do and share; we are becoming in such way partners in the Bereishit, Genesis, of the creation. We are given opportunity to complete the work of the creation and reveal God within it.
How is God revealed?
The quick answer is that God can be revealed through the actions that people take.
There are many things we do in our life which are secondary to the real thing that we want. Many people ‘just’ go to work every day; having a job which they do not like. You ask a person: ‘Is this really who you are?’ and they reply: ‘No, this is not really my life, and not where I am. This is just work I have to do’.
People do things in life without the love of it. Now, the person’s thoughts and intentions are where he is. People’s will is where their essence is.
God has created the world in a manner of 613 channels, Mitzvot, like pillars holding up the infrastructure. These are the channels through which the light can come down, and they are divided into two categories: actions between people and God, and actions between people themselves.
Between man and God we can fulfil God’s will (which is purely what we do for the sake of God, HaShem), and then we have things which God wants us to do between us: loving our fellow man, treating everybody right, being honest and good and charitable, kind, compassionate; being sensitive to others, visiting the sick, and giving charity. In financial matters, we need to be honest in our business dealings, making other people benefit as well. And, we are also asked to follow the act of blessing.
22 July 2012.
© Gil Dekel. My thanks to my teachers.