Let us learn the parshah according to Nachmanides commentary:
Bereshis bara Elokim es hashomayim ves haoeretz. In the beginning g-d created the matter with which all physical and spiritual worlds are formed.
Vehaoretz haysa sohu vavohu veruach Elokim merachafes al hamayim. And the physical world was in a state of cataclysmic upheaval and g-d’s presence hovered above the waters.
If one just ponders these verses for one moment, it is astounding to imagine that an all-powerful omnipotent Being chooses to build a world with the material of chaos and destruction.
In a similar vein, the Tikkuni Zohar (a profound kabbalistic commentary on the word Bereshis) records a debate between G-d and the angels, where G-d chooses Man over the Angels and, to add insult to injury, informs these perfect beings that Man shall lord over them and they will be his subjects. Why would an all-knowing Being choose a flawed individual to be the one responsible to provide meaning to G-d’s world? The perfection of a spiritually superior being is far more effective.
In order to answer both these questions we must utilize an analogy. If a great educator had designs to open an elite academy for the gifted, he would certainly select leaders in the particular discipline that they are going to teach. These individuals are going to be demanding, inspiring and persistent. This academy is designed for excellence in every way.
There is another master educator that wishes to develop a very different academy, one that will provide an education to those who struggle to focus, strain to comprehend, feel nothing but frustration at every academic turn. Theses educators will certainly need to be exceptional individuals, bright, charismatic and creative. Yet the singular criteria are people who have traversed the same crucible and emerged refined. The hard-won victories and lessons learned from common mistakes is by far the most important factor of their success in imbuing their charges with a path to their own personal achievements.
Look around you, see the sky, smell the air, revel in the resplendent colors of our world. What you are experiencing is a cosmic classroom. Every day a tutorial of reality, to teach and inspire us to greater wisdom and higher consciousness. The purpose of G-d’s academy is not for the gifted but for the struggling. The world is formed of chaos for Man with all of his failings to find meaning and make sense of this divine jumbled menagerie. It is preposterous to consider that a supremely benevolent Being thrust us beloved children into his world with no means to navigate his way to a life of purpose and meaning.
I challenge every one of our esteemed readers, from where do you draw the wisdom to educate yourself, your family, the world to the lessons learned in your academy? G-d has provided us with the ultimate text book. The Torah. The text of the Torah is not a historical, biological, scientific, social, psychological narrative. It is simply the lens that allows comprehension of life’s greatest lessons.
Find a quiet moment, sit in a comfortable chair and begin. In the beginning… JN
Rabbi Shafir Roizman grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is the spiritual leader of Ohr Hatorah Congregation in Phoenix.