Dear Rabbi Orlofsky,
Hi. i have a few questions that have been bothering me for a while now…
First of all, I don’t understand why the world was created. I know that it says so that we can benefit from Hashem and His kindness, but that doesn’t answer the question. Hashem wants to give goodness to man – ok. But there was no man to begin with! Why did Hashem have to create man to begin with? Hashem is perfect, why did He need to create something called man to give to?
Also, what did Adam and Chava do in Gan Eden? What did they have to do already? All they did was eat all day? It seems as if all they just had to live in this wonderful garden with fruit trees and rule over the animals. I don’t understand, and they were going to live forever, right? But doing what? Eating? And why weren’t they given the Torah? Why didn’t Hashem originally give Adam and Chava the Torah? Why did Hashem have to wait for the eventual Bnei Yisrael to leave Egypt to get the Torah?
Also, when mashiach comes IYH today, after all the wars and everything and after the Bait Hamikdash is built, we are all going to live in Eretz Yisrale and serve Hashem. THEN WHAT? The world will be forever? There’s no more point. Like lihvadil, you beat Bowser in Mario and you got all the points. Now what? There’s no more point… but there has to be because we’re all waiting for mashiach to come. So what is it?
Another question I have has to do with a tefila that we say in shema. It says “bishaim Hashem Elokei yisrael, mimini michael mismoli gavriel milfanai uriel umeachorai rifael val roshi Shechinat Keil.” What about on the bottom of us? Why is there no “umitachtai?”
Thank you soo much!
Whew! Nothing else? As they used say, that was a mouthful! Obviously there is much to say on any of these topics, but I will try in the limited JEMSEM forum to give some understanding to these very deep questions.
Hashem created the world for us to receive the greatest pleasure. Why did He do this? Because He’s really nice. The fancy way of saying this is that He is altruistic. I was once speaking to a group of Israelis and I said Hashem is an altruist. They were unfamiliar with the term so I explained that it meant someone who did something nice for nothing in return. “Ah” they responded “a freier”. “That’s right”, I said, “Hashem is the ultimate freier.”
When you ask the question “Why did Hashem have to create the world or why did He need to create the world, the answer is, He didn’t. Hashem is infinite and He doesn’t need or want anything. All we can say is that Hashem chose to create the world.
The question then is obviously, why did He choose to create the World, and to that I answer unabashedly “I have no idea”. To answer that question I would need to analyze the mind of the Infinite and even I am not up to such a task. To analyze Hashem? I would need to get a veeeery large couch, and ask Him about His mother and all kinds of analytical techniques that frankly are beyond me.
Well, then, how can I enjoy this world if I don’t know why Hashem created it? In the 1950’s there was a television program called the Millionaire. Each week the show opened with a millionaire who we never see giving a tax-free check for a million dollars to his lawyer with instructions to present it to a particular recipient. Towards the end of the show there would come the inevitable knock on the door and the lawyer would present the check. “But who is it from and why is he giving it to me?” the recipient would ask, and each week the lawyer would respond “I am not at liberty to reveal that information”. And never, NEVER, did anyone give it back! They took the money and spent it and it changed their lives for the better.
We know why Hashem put us here – for us. He gets nothing from it, or He wouldn’t be Infinite. Why He chose to do it from His point of view, we won’t know until we are infinite.
Now what is the nature of this pleasure that we were created for? As the Mesillas Yesharim says “lihisanag al Hashem ninehenin meziv hashechina, to get the infinite pleasure of being close to Hashem. However, in order to enjoy that pleasure, we need to earn it, either because we can’t enjoy it unless we earn it (bread of shame) or because we need to build a relationship with Hashem in order to enjoy it. Therefore we have to do something first.
All Adom and Chava had to do was not eat from the tree. That was a negative commandment. There wouldn’t have been any positive commandments, because positive mitzvos are a tikkun, they fix things up. Everything was perfect, so there was nothing to fix. After they would have fulfilled the mitzva of not eating from the tree, we would have entered into the world to come, which according to the Ramchal is in this world. Not, obviously, the world we know. This world is thick with physicality. Their world was a pure physicality where the spirituality shined through. They were in Gan Eden soaking up Hashem’s rays in preparation for Olam Habah where they would have soaked it up on a much deeper level.
They messed up, ate from the tree and brought death and destruction to the world. Because of that, the world now has to be fixed and brought back to a Gan Eden state in order for us to have the jumping off point for Olam Haba. Hashem needed to give the Torah to a people who would live it and bring the healing and fulfillment to the world. That’s where the Jewish people come in. Avraham chose to begin the process of preparation to perform this mission which culminated with the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai. Until then, Hashem couldn’t give the Torah, because there was no one to receive it!
When we finish our job and the world reaches Mashiach, then we will enter into the preparatory stage for olam haba. There will be no yetzer hora; we will simply rack up points, like when your ball falls into the well in a pinball machine. At the end of that process the world will be transformed into olam haba and mankind will fulfill its’ ultimate purpose – enjoying being close to Hashem.
As far as krias Shema there is no one beneath you. You are the bottom and you need to reach the top.
And to all my dear JEMSEM readers who send me e-mails and wonder why it takes me so long to respond…
Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky