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Chapter Five


The entire Torah is devoted to teaching us about ourselves. In teaching mankind morality, it is teaching mankind the great heights it can reach, and how low it can sink. The Torah, if you will, is a "mirror" to reflect our image back to us.

As such, every story, every narrative, every commandment - every word - embodies some lesson about who we are, and what we’re capable of achieving. But the most direct statement about the make-up of human beings is found at the beginning of the Torah that outlines the process of creating the universe.

These are the verses that pertain to the creation of man and woman:

And God said, "Let us make man in our image and likeness, and he will dominate the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, and the animals, and all the small animals that creep on the earth." (Genesis 1:26)

And He created them in His image, in the image of God He created them - male and female He created them. (ibid. 27)

And God formed the man from dust from the earth, and breathed into his nostrils a living soul, and man became a living being. (ibid. 2:7)

The elements of man as found in the above verses, they are:
  1. image of God
  2. dominion over all other creatures
  3. male and female
  4. made of dust of the earth
  5. possesses Divine soul
  6. living being
All of the above traits require explanation, but in terms of understanding the nature of man, there is one specific verse that deals less with the creation of man and more with the evaluation of his creation, as the midrash explains:
And God saw all that He had done, and it was very good... (ibid. 31)

[Very] Good: this [refers to the creation of the] good inclination; very [good] : this [refers to creation of the] evil inclination. (Braishis Rabbah 9:7)

According to the midrash, the creation of the part of man that is inclined towards immorality was good for creation. Whereas other points of view have defined the "darker side" of mankind as being something to purge, the Torah enjoys its existence. This is supported by the following Talmudic statement:
I (God says) created the evil inclination, and I made the Torah as its spice. (Tractate Kiddushin 30b)
Some might look at the Torah as the "antidote" for the evil inclination - a dose of morality for the inclination that likes to behave immorally. But the Talmud specifically uses the word "spice," which implies that the Torah comes not to destroy the evil inclination, but to enhance it.

After all, the above midrash finishes by stating, without the evil inclination, would we have a desire to procreate? To make a living? To do anything creative? But perhaps the most significant contribution the evil inclination makes to satisfying the purpose of creation is that it makes possible free will, and that is the purpose of creation.

This is because in order to have free will, one must have at least two viable options in any given circumstance. If mankind only had an inclination to be moral, then what choice would exist? Hence creation’s need of a snake that could convince Eve that there was a good reason for eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:1-7), though God had forbade her doing so.

From the Torah’s perspective then, the purpose of life is for making choices. Fulfillment and happiness come from making free will decisions. This is man’s ultimate potential, and thereby the fulfillment of his potential will be, by definition, when he or she is maximizing the opportunities in life to make choices. Life is for making decisions, and living is the process of realizing those decisions.

If so, then the Torah itself is going to be devoted to promoting decision-making. Its stories and narratives will be portrayed to reveal the opportunities in life, and the commandments will be opportunities for making choices, or at the very least, guidelines for making decisions.

The truth is, if one were to analyze where the greatest thrill in life comes from, one would see that it is from making decisions. The riskier the decision, the more thrilling it is to make, and there is no riskier decision than a moral one. And as the decision begins to affect the fate of a life or lives, the decision becomes tremendously exciting, as crises prove.

The decisions we make define us in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others. The greater the quality of the decision we make, the better we feel about ourselves, and the better we feel about ourselves, the happier we feel.

Positively stimulating the senses will always provide an instantaneous burst of pleasure, but it will not last, and not result in true happiness. Making powerful and meaningful decisions will create a positive image of you in your own mind, and contribute to the world in which you live. This results in a feeling of being real. There is no greater thrill in life than being and feeling real.

However, there is still more to define before being able to fully understand the equation of life.

© by Mercava Productions

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