parasha

Breishit 5777

My Truth – Our Truth

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

This Shabbat, we begin a new cycle of Torah reading: reading the entire five books of the Torah in the synagogue throughout one year. We go back to the starting point, to the great questions that have challenged mankind: Where did it all begin? What did the beginning look like? Is there significance to our being here on earth? Is there an aim to human existence?

The Torah begins with a universal story. It all began like this: In the beginning of God's creation of the heavens and the earth. (Breishit 1,1)
One creator, heaven and earth. This is what the beginning looked like. Afterwards, we read about the development of all of creation: water, plants, sun, moon, and stars, animals, and ultimately – man.
As opposed to the singular form used to describe the entire creation, when the Torah talks about creation of man, it uses the plural: And God said, "Let us make man…” (Ibid, Ibid, 26)
Who was G-d talking to when He wanted to create man? Commentators struggled with this question for thousands of years and provided us with a huge wealth of explanations and midrashim. We will focus on one particularly interesting answer that could teach us a lot about man’s character and about the aim of human existence.
The sages of the midrash described it in their picturesque language this way:
When the Holy One was about to create the first human, the ‎ministering angels formed themselves into factions and groups. Some of them said: “Let him be created.” Some of them said: Let him not be created.”…‎Loving kindness said, “Let him be created because he will perform acts of loving ‎kindness.”‎ Truth said, “Let him not be created because he will be all falsehood.” Justice ‎said, “Let him be created because he will do deeds of justice.” Peace said, “Let him ‎not be created because he will be all conflict.” What did the Holy One do? He took Truth and cast him to the ground…The ministering angels said to the Holy One: “Master of the Universe: Why do You humiliate Your seal, lift Truth up from the earth.”
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This astounding midrash tells us that there are two facets to man – positive and negative. The positive side includes loving kindness and justice, whereas the negative side includes falsehoods and conflict. Should a man like this be created? Our sages tell us that in order to create man, truth was thrown to the ground and only then, did the positive overcome the negative.
Note – The truth did not disappear. It exists – not in heaven but on earth. Truth is no longer objective. It ceases its role as a self-contained entity. From now it rises up from the earth.
The wisdom of Kabbalah talks about the process of “shvirat hakelim”, the breaking of the vessels, that took place during creation of the world when the sparks of those vessels were scattered and it was up to man to gather them and return them to their initial state. This means that objective truth was shattered into many fragments. Every single person holds a fragment of truth, one spark of Godly goodness, in whose merit he exists.
Man’s role then is to first discover that same spark of truth in his heart, that same good intention that is not affected by other interests. He must discover this spark and nurture it, redeem it from the many layers of interests and distractions. At the same time, man was given the mission to discover the spark of truth in others; to believe in others and find their inner core of goodness whose halo is sometimes dimmed.
Discovering man’s truth and that of others is lifting truth up from the earth. Subjective truth, that which has many and varied facets, becomes one great truth that envelopes all of humanity through tolerance and acceptance of others.
This is how conflict is resolved. Disputes arise when a person does not believe another. If we work to find that good core in every person, we can love any person and respect him by acknowledging his truth and the contribution he makes to advancing and repairing the world.

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