Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bereishit - The Utopia That We Must Regain

We learn in the beginning of Parshat Bereishit that the "spirit of Hashem hovered over the surface of the waters". (Bereishit 1:2)
The Artscroll Torah Treasury wrote that the Midrash Rabba said that the spirit of G-d was the spirit of Meshiach. "G-d created the world exactly as it was meant to be when the Meshiach comes. The entire Messianic dream is nothing more and nothing less than the world that G-d originally envisioned and created."
It is a goal of mankind, and especially the Jewish people, to go forward to rediscover the past glory that we once knew.
While bentsching (saying the blessing after a meal) tonight, my husband mentioned that the words of the birkat hamazon are so magnificent.
"Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who nourishes the entire world, in His goodness - with grace, with kindness and with mercy. He gives nourishment to all flesh, for His kindness is eternal. And through His great goodness, we have never lacked, and may we never lack, nourishment for all eternity. For the sake of His Great Name, because He is G-d Who nourishes and sustains all, and benefits all, and He prepares food for all of His creatures which He has created. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who nourishes all." (Translation from the Artscroll Women's Siddur)
"Isn't that amazing?" my husband said. "Hashem provides food for every single person and every single creature. There is no person or creature for which Hashem doesn't provide what he needs."
"Reallly," I said. "So why are there so many poverty stricken people in Israel and the rest of the world? Why are Chinese or African workers forced to labor for $1 a month? Why are tens of thousands of Jews in Israel standing on line for food every day? Why are there no more beasts in Israel? I'm happy that there are no lions or bears to attack people, but why aren't they left in the wilderness? What happened to the leopardess of Ein Gedi and are there any deer left in the wadis of Gush Etzion? If Hashem provides for all of His creatures, where are they?"
I answered my own question. The parsha says that the "Spirit of Hashem hovered over the deep", and this is the Utopia we once knew and for which we much strive again. This is the way Hashem created the world, and the way He wished it would continue.
In His perfect world, there is food for every person and creature - great and small. In the world that Hashem planned and designed, there is no lack, there is kindness and sustenance for all. But in our world, this is not so.
My husband said, "Maybe Hashem made some people poor so that others could act toward them with chesed (loving kindness) and help them."
I told him that that was a good thought, and that I also had another.
G-d's world was perfect until Man messed it up. He messed it up back then, and he has done the same generation after generation. G-d created a perfect world, but man exploits his fellow man. He hunts and exterminates species after species of G-d's creatures. In his greed, man does not pay enough to his workers to live sustainable lives.
Yes, Hashem's Spirit once hovered over the deep, and wishes to do so again. But man, and particularly the Jewish people, must help make this possible by following G-d's original blue print, by living lives of chesed (loving kindness) and Torah. Man should not just live and let live. He should live and enable others to live - whether human or creature. By providing for our fellow human beings and the world's creatures, we are helping Hashem "nourish the world" and we are bringing Hashem's Spirit one step closer to where it belongs.

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