Parashat Bereshit- Here's Something About Nothing.
My family and I had gone out for dinner to a restaurant. As we were sitting waiting for our meal, I took a few sips from the glass of water sitting in front of me. My brother of course, chugs the whole cup. When our waiter returned with a new ice cold pitcher of water, he only filled my brother's cup, not mine. I took this personally--I was offended. I realized though that the waiter only pours water in the cups that are empty, not the ones that are already half full, even if we drank from it already and wanted a slight refill. Here I learned something valuable which quenched my thirst more than water could:
Only something empty can be filled.
In Parashat Bereshit, the Ribono Shel Olam reveals to us how He, in His Infinite Wisdom, creates the world. HaShem takes nothing and makes it into matter, in which He them forms into the world. HaShem didn't make the world based on matter extracted from somewhere else; the source of the world is pure nothingness. This is a very deep concept to think about.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman says something so beautiful. If I tried to paraphrase it, I would do him no justice, so I will include an excerpt from what he writes:
'In the beginning, [HaShem] created everything out of nothing. He could have decided to make everything out of something, but He knew that nothing is better material than something. Because something is already whatever something is, but nothing can become anything.
That's why, at least as far as this universe is concerned, the only way to become a real somebody is by being a nobody first.'
Wow. You don't know how many times I read this passage. This is such a profound statement.
Only an empty person can be filled. One of my Rebbeim once told me this. The Ramba''m says the same thing, too, in Iggeret Ramba''m. 'Tashpil Et Assmekhah veYisa'unkha HaMakom'—you lower yourself and HaShem Himself will raise you up.
HaKadosh Barukh Hu could have started writing the Torah HaKedoshah from any other point. Rashi points out that technically, we should be starting from the first Missvah of Rosh Hodesh. But in actuality, we don't do this. HaShem wants us to know that before we begin doing any Missvot, before we want to learn any Torah, we must make ourselves into an empty vessel that can only be filled (with pure and holy things, of course). The moment we fill ourselves up with an ego, the more we fill ourselves up with anything else, the less capacity we have of being filled with what actually matters. That's when we really will become empty, Has veShalom.
HaShem's main concern isn't just keeping the Missvot-- it's our wanting and willingness to keep them. It is our dedication to them. It's how much we open ourselves up to be receptive of them, how much we fill ourselves up with them and not with other nonsense. This is what matters to HaShem.
Something that can help us achieve this is knowing what this vessel that we have to fill is made of. When HaKadosh Barukh Hu forms Adam, He literally blows of Himself into Adam to give him a breath of life. When I blow into something, part of me exists in that something, in that vessel, right? So doesn't that mean when HaShem blows into Adam that part of HaShem exists within him? And since every single one of our Neshamot are part of Adam's original Neshamah, doesn't that mean that we have part of HaShem inside us? Now, do you see it fitting to fill yourself up with anything other than Torah, Missvot and Simhah? I think not.
Part of HaKadosh Barukh Hu resides in each and every one of us. We must know this and always remember it. We are all filled with G-dliness. Knowing this, how could we ever think of placing anything else inside us that doesn't level up? Would you ever put diesel fuel in a Ferarri? No way! Has veShalom!! Only premium! You wouldn't want to ruin your most prized possession, would you? Our Neshamot can't handle diesel, we require nothing less than premium.
Before Adam eats from the Ess HaDaat, the Tree of Knowledge, the Torah tells us that he was made of 'Or'. After he eats from the tree, the Torah tells us that HaShem cloaks him in 'Or'. What's the difference? Before Adam fills himself up with what he's not supposed to, he is dressed in 'Or' spelled with an Alef—he is dressed in 'light'. After he eats from this apple, he still wears a garment of 'Or', except now, it's spelled with an Ayin. This changes the entire meaning of the word. He is now dressed in 'skin'. He loses his shine. He filled up with diesel, not premium.
Nowadays, were not doing much better. Rabbanim are always warning us to stay away from iphone, ipad, ipod ('ipaid'….too much). This is our generation's biggest yesser hara and distraction. This is what our generation fills itself up with. Let's be honest, most people own at least one of these devices (I actually own an ancient ipod myself that is rusting in the depths of some drawer somwhere). Did you think what company this all comes from? You guessed it. Apple. We are filling ourselves up with Apple and its contemporaries. It's ironic how our first sin was with an apple, and yet we continue to sin with the very same Apple. We don't need an app to tell us this. Don't lose your shine. Don a garment of 'Or' with an Alef, not an Ayin.
Be'Ezrat HaShem, may we learn to humble ourselves in front of HaKadosh Barukh Hu so that we can be filled up and raised by HaShem Himself. May we develop the right priorities in life. May we realize what we are truly made of and the potential that we have. May we become more in touch with the 'Helek E-lokit MiMaal'- the 'G-dly Part from Above' (our Neshamah) which is embedded within each and every one of us. We are made 'BeSelem E'lokim', in the 'Form of HaShem'. Rabbenu Behaye in Hovot HaLevavot explains that it is not enough to just resemble HaShem physically, but we must act like Him too and resemble Him spiritually. Let us do just that.
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh! BH we are already starting the year off wonderfully!!
Disclaimer: I have nothing against the Apple company. I admire their innovation. However, the amount of emphasis we place on their products or any other technological device, regardless of its company, is almost ridiculous. We have to start living in the real world, not a cyber one. Remember, 'Or' (light), not 'Or' (skin). There's a difference. Don't settle for diesel when you have premium.
Gosh, life was so much more simple when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits…. ;D