Parshas Bereishis: Resilience

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By Rabbi Naftoly Bier

The Yom Tov of Sukkos affords us an opportunity for seven days to be enveloped in Hashem’s world, completely transcending the mundane existence. Despite the fact, “ארבעים שנה אקוט בדור, For forty years Hashem was angry with us in the time we traveled in the מדבר, wilderness” (Psalms 95), nevertheless we were embraced with Hashem’s love. Every day we merited to receive the miraculous food, מן, manna, water from a supernatural source, were enclosed and protected by the Clouds of Glory and always our clothing did not wear out. We relived this experience of placing our trust and belief in Hashem, that He loves and embraces His dear children, in the Sukkah.

In this week’s portion, we are introduced to the creation of humankind. The “creature” is described as a “צלם אלוקים, in the image of Hashem.”

The נפש החיים, Rav Chaim Volozhiner explains: “To understand why He specifically stated “in the image of God-Elohi”m” and not some other name, it is because the meaning of the name Elohi”m implies that He is the Master of All Powers.

He is called “Master of All Powers,” is because the attributes of the Holy One are not like those of flesh and blood. For man, when he builds a structure, the builder doesn’t create and materialize the wood from his own powers; rather, he takes pre-existing lumber and organizes it into a structure. After he completes arranging it according to his will, if he ceases his efforts and departs, the structure still persists.

According to this model, He created man and appointed him to rule over the multitude of powers and numberless worlds, and assigned them to him so that he should govern them via all the minute details of his actions, speech, thoughts, and the larger scale aspects of his behavior, whether for good, or for the opposite.

For via his positive actions, speech and thoughts he fulfills and invests strength in a number of supernal and holy powers and worlds, and adds holiness and light to them. In the words of the sages: (Berakhot 64a): “Call them ‘your builders’ rather than ‘your sons’ for they arrange the lofty worlds as a builder arranges his structure and invests it with great strength.

And the opposite [is also true, that] via his negative actions, speech or thoughts he destroys a number of powers, and the supernal, holy worlds without number and measure, or darken or lessen their light and holiness, and add power to their opposites in the realms of impurity.

This is what is meant by (Bereshit 1:27): “And God-Elohi”m created man with His image – for just as He is the Master of the powers found in the totality of all the worlds, and organizes and governs them each instant per His will, so too did His will rule that man should be the enabler and disabler via all of the detailed patterns of his large scale behavior, in every situation, literally in every instant and moment, as if he too is the master of their power.

And this is the law of man-each person in Israel should not say in his heart/mind: “What am I, what power do I have to effect anything in the world via my lowly actions?”

Truthfully, one should understand and know and fix in his heart/mind’s thoughts, that every detail of his actions, speech and thoughts, in each instant and moment, are not for naught. And how many are his actions and how great and exalted, that each one rises according to its root, to effect its result at the loftiest heights, in the worlds and highest levels of the heavenly lights.”

What an inspiring lesson. We, the human race, are designated and ennobled as partners in Hashem’s continuous governance of His world; which is a second to second dynamic. The Malbim explains this is the meaning of the verse (1,3) “אשר ברא אלוקים לעשות, that Hashem created to do.” Hashem created the world and gave it to humanity to “be in charge.”

We are not intellectual animals, we are not spiritual people but rather partners in effecting the future of the world.

Let us quote a passage from the מסילת ישרים, The Paths of the Just, near the end of Chapter 19.

On this our sages said: “who is a Chasid? He who is benevolent towards his Maker.” Behold, such a Chasid, besides the service which he does in performing his mitzvot with the proper intent, will certainly feel actual pain on the exile and the destruction of the Temple, because these cause a diminishing, of G-d’s honor. He will long for the Redemption because then the honor of G-d will be exulted.

If one will say: “who am I, and what importance am I that I should pray on the exile and Jerusalem? Will the exiles be ingathered and the salvation sprout because of my prayers?!

The answer is, as we learned: “Thus man was created alone, so that each person should say: ‘for my sake the world was created’ ” (Sanhedrin 37a). Already it brings gratification to G-d, that His children desire and pray for this. And even though their request may not be fulfilled, because the proper time has not yet come or for some other reason, nevertheless, they have done their part and the Holy One, blessed be He, rejoices in this.

The רמח”ל, Ramchal is teaching us that due to every individual being unique, each with their own designated purpose it therefore follows that to Hashem we are everything, infinitely important, for if one person can entreat Hashem due to one’s total embracement by Him.

Three inspiring, elevating, exalting lessons:
1) Sukkos – Hashem has a relentless, infinite, constant love and caring for us, 2) Hashem appointed us to jointly administrate His world through our actions, 3) Every human has their unique task, plan and purpose.

Due to this it is logical that Hashem will assist us to succeed, for otherwise His world design is incomplete!

When one inculcates these ideas and acts accordingly; one has developed a state of resilience. If Hashem is my partner, then one has the zeal, enthusiasm to stay focused on what one can positively accomplish!

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