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September 2014

What Do We Know About Creation? – – Part II

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Of the three garments of the soul – thought, speech and action – only thought is continuous. There is “a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking” but never a time to not think. Thought is constant.

This is because thought is closer to the soul and the soul never stops.

What does a soul do? (Not the G-dly soul, just a soul of any kind). A soul knows and feels – intelligence and emotions make up the soul’s faculties. Thought is the conscious awareness of what is going on in the soul. You are aware of the soul’s emotions (love, fear, etc.) and the soul’s store of knowledge. If you don’t know when you are frightened or that you are in love, that is an unhealthy thought function or malfunction of thought.

So the power behind thought is the emotion that produces it. The emotion of the heart excites the thoughts just as the thoughts excite the words. You can see this on the face of a person when his feelings flood into his thoughts even before he utters a word.

Thus the universe originates, not in speech or thought; it already exists in G-d’s kindness, severity, compassion, etc. The six days of creation are the results of six attributes within G-d. G-d felt generous – this created the thoughts and words of the first day. G-d felt judgmental – this created the thoughts and words of the second day, and so on.

So now, where does light come from? Divine kindness. The world begins in His kindness.

But where do emotions get their power? What creates kindness? What is their origin?

What Do We Know About Creation? – – Part I

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Ask anybody, “How was the world created?” They will tell you, “The world was created by the word of G-d.” G-d said “Let there be light” and there was light. But what does the word ‘light’ mean? Or what did it mean when it was first spoken? Since light had not yet existed, the word was meaningless.

We must understand these words to be not only names, but formulas.

Something like, H2O produces water. (O.K., it doesn’t produce water; it just describes its makeup).

Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe, explains in the Tanya that words are composed of letters, each letter having creative energy. Arrange the letters one way and you get one type of creation. Arranged differently you get another creation. Aleph-vov-reish is the ‘formula’ for light. Aleph-bais-nun is the ‘formula’ for stones.

Aleph-reish-yud is the ‘formula’ for lions, etc.

Where do letters get this power?

Speech means revelation. You reveal what is on your mind or in your heart by speaking. Words convey to others what is hidden in your thoughts. Thought has more energy than word because it is closer to the soul. This explains why speaking can bring relief from troubling thoughts. Thoughts are the soul of the words you speak; hence thoughtful words feel alive while thoughtless words feel hollow. Thus the energy behind the ‘word’ is the thought.

When you are searching for the origins of the universe you will want to get to the earliest beginnings of existence. You will, therefore, ask, “Where did the word of G-d come from?” The answer will be from His thoughts. He thought about creation before creating, thus the universe already existed in His mind before He spoke it into being.

Incidentally, during the week G-d creates the world with words, but on Shabbat He creates with thought alone. The world is holier on Shabbat because of this.

But… What produces thoughts?

We’ll get to that next week, G-d willing.

 

Definitions

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Definitions are very helpful. For example: what does sadness mean? What is the experience of sadness? People say I feel sad. The truth is the correct definition of sadness is that you feel nothing. A person who is sad has blocked all feelings and will not feel joy or grief. So it is a non feeling, it is a lifelessness of the heart. And that is why sadness is unholy and is to be avoided to the extreme.

What Do We Know About Creation?

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The problem with evolution is that it traces existence back to a primitive state but then gets stuck, because sooner of later you have to deal with the fact that before there was something there was nothing. And how do you get something from nothing?

Next week, we’ll do a series on creation, or as it’s recently been popularized, “Intelligent Design.” The Chabad insights into this subject are fascinating, but not very well known.

In the meantime, keep in touch.

Q&A: Forgiving vs. Fixing – Part I

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 Q: onionsoupmix asked, “The child produced from an adulterous union has to die before teshuva is fully accepted. Why isn’t G-d more flexible?”

 

A: Thanks for the tough questions. They’re always the best.

You ask why G-d cannot be more forgiving in the instance where a child is born illegitimate.

For starters, here’s an important point:

I assume you were referring to the Talmud’s statement, “What is a deviation that cannot be corrected? It is giving birth to a child through incest or adultery.”  The Teshuva is not complete as long as the child is alive.

But notice, the Talmud is not speaking of sin. The Talmud uses the word “Meuves”, which is a deviation, something crooked that needs straightening. And the question is not whether Teshuva brings forgiveness. The question is how we erase the consequences of the sin after being forgiven.

In other words, the question is Tikkun. You break someone’s arm and he forgives you. Yet as long as his arm is in a cast you cannot forgive yourself.

So G-d is forgiving even for sins of adultery or incest. The problem is cleaning up the mess.