In the two previous articles we explored the underpinnings of man’s creation. In the first article we saw that HKB”H’s motivation in the creation was CHESSED. In order for His chessed to be the type of chessed that only He can do (but that shouldn’t stop us from aspiring for!) a world had to be created that hides both HIS presence and the reward that He wished to give us.
In the second article we went into detail as to why the world is as it is and that it’s main function is to allow man to do chessed with his fellow man.
For the details and further understanding, if you haven’t already done so, look there.
We mentioned in the first article (sorry for the repetition, but we must refocus) that another aspect of the creation which would prevent man from truly enjoying the chessed that is being done is the desire to be like G-d. The aspect of Chessed we discussed in the second article. But there is also the desire to be a Creator, just like HKB”H. Let’s talk about that.
What is a creator? Well at it’s very base it’s something from nothing. That is not an ability given to man. It requires something infinite to create the initial something. (In Core Emunah book 1 in the chapter entitled “Logical and Philosophical” I discuss this issue in depth). But that doesn’t stop HKB”H for allowing man to also be a “creator”.
There are two aspects in life in which HKB”H wants man to be a creator: Torah and … children! In this article we will discuss the latter, not the former.
In the exploration of the first days of creation we find that the first thing that HKB”H blesses the animal life of creation with is Peru U’Revu, (Be fruitful and multiply). [As a side note it should be pointed out that there are slight differences between the blessing given to the fish and flying things as opposed to all other types of land animals – compare and contrast the verses in the beginning of Berishis (Genesis) and you’ll see what I mean]!
Almost the first thing that man is commanded after his creation is Peru U’Revu and, indeed RaSh”I (Berishis 4:1) quoting our sages, ob”m, in the Midrash notes that it was, indeed, the first thing that they did. Even before they ate from the tree of Knowledge they already had two children!
The navi Yeshayahu (Isaiah 45) tells us that lo tohu beraha, lashevet yetzarah, (It (the world) was not created to lay barren, it was formed to be settled), from which our sages, ob”m (Bava Battra 13a) learn that “the world was created for the sake of periah and reviiah (being fruitful and multiplying)”. It is clearly a very central mitzvah.
The reason for this is because there is no other mitzvah that allows us to experience, quite so fully, just what it is like to BE a creator.
In Tractate Kiddushin (30b) our sages, ob”m, teach us that upon comparison a persons parents and HKB”H are considered equals in the eyes of the Torah. It is equally forbidden to curse both one’s parents and HKB”H. On the positive side one must have, for all practical purposes, the same fear and respect for one’s parents and one has for HKB”H. If it were possible to strike HKB”H they would have been equated in this regard as well, (but one can’t so in this regard they are dissimilar). The reason for this equation, say our sages (ibid.) is because all three are equal partners in the creation of a child!
But then again – so what? Why is this looked at so severely? Why is it the responsibility of each and every Jewish man to have two children, (le’halacha: a boy and a girl)? What did HKB”H want when he gave this commandment?
The answer, my friends, is what we have been saying all along. When HKB”H made his creation, he was – indeed – just that! A creation! He doesn’t want to be just that! He want’s to be like HKB”H, so that he fully deserves the reward which he is given and so that he can feel as an equal! So HKB”H gave him that opportunity and a parent was created! Not a parent in deed, but rather a parent in potential! That is true creation. As RaSh”I tells us on the verse (Berishis 2:24) Therefore a man will leave his mother and his father and will cling to his wife and they will be as one flesh, which Rashi explains “one flesh” as being achieved via the creation of a child.
But it’s not enough to have just one child. In order to truly be like HKB”H you need to make two. At least one boy [=Adam] and one girl [=Chava/Eve].
But your journey of “godhood” only just begins there! If you really want to be a Creator like HKB”H you then have to raise them! HaShem doesn’t just plop you down in the middle of nowhere and say “Have a nice day”! He, yisborach, is with us then every step of the way for our entire lives! Who is it that gives us our health, vitality, parnassah (livelihood) and everything else? Why HKB”H, of course! Only an insurance agent, or someone who lives like one, will attribute just the disasters to “an Act of G-d”. EVERYTHING is an act of G-d!
As I mentioned earlier, we are NOT infinite beings. We have neither infinite time nor energy. As such we cannot be expected to experience what HKB”H does ALL day EVERY day. So our life, as a parent, is divided up into segments. There is a time of life when the child is absolutely dependent upon his parent. In the times of the Gemara in Tractate Kessubos this was until the age of 5 or 6. Today it’s sometime around 50, (right before they get the inheritance!] During this time we are the source of ultimate, all around support and education. [Yes, even after the invention of the boob-tube, kal va chomer of the internet, we are responsible to – ourselves – make sure that our children receive an education which doesn’t just include a livelihood. There are four basic mitzvos incumbent on the father towards his son. They are: to circumcise him, if he is a firstborn to his mother to redeem him from the kohein (priest), to teach him a livelihood and to marry him off. According to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva one must also teach him to swim. These are things that a parent is responsible to do for his child. But beyond these it is clear that one must teach his child to be a mensch. These are laws that cover the moral and social conduct, giving both standards and instruction as to how a person is supposed to act and a proper life value system by which his/her life is supposed to be governed.
How does it feel to be like G-d?
Truthfully one does not fully understand this until one has teenagers. It is during this period of life that a parent is truly tried. No longer is the child fully a dependent. He/she is looking to find out both how to be independent and also how to safely find his/her way in life. To do so he has to emerge from the cocoon of youth and – hopefully – holding on to his parents hand start groping his way to independence. That a hard hand to be! At the same time you hold on to your parents hand for stability and support, while at the same time smacking the hand for not allowing you your independence!
The parents rules, which were – basically – accepted as a child are now tested to their limits in the trial and error system known as “adolescence”.
Let’s take a step back, for a second, and consider the following: isn’t our relationship with HKB”H something like that as well? Doesn’t he lay down the letter in the law in the Torah and we, being the “adolescents” that we are (usually well into our old age!) choose to either listen, to grasp on to the hand which supports us in all ways and, let’s face it, lays down those laws which we KNOW are for our betterment, but we just don’t really feel like keeping just now? Isn’t that our relationship with G-d?
Yet at the same time, despite His infinite-ness, He has both patience for us, on the one hand, but not an infinite amount of time to try His darnedest to get us to use our life for our own betterment! What would happen should He fail? We would miss the entire point for which the world was created in the first place! Wouldn’t that be just the worst possible thing that could happen? To have an entire world put into place for the sake of us utilizing it in order to overcome the things that prevent us from truly enjoying the real life that HaShem has planned for us … and missing the entire thing! Plain awful!
In any case there is so much more to think about in the parent-child relationship, but the above is enough in order to deal with one aspect of the CREATOR function of the world.
More to come in the upcoming articles!