The Purpose of Our Creation
Parsha Bereshith - Bereshith/Genesis 1:1 - 6:8
Parsha Bereshith is probably the most complex parsha of the entire Torah. It includes accounts of the most profound and impactful events of all time. This makes it difficult to pick one topic to discuss.
Perhaps, then, we should start with the fundamentals.
The Torah begins with the Creation. There was nothing, and then there was something.
Why did YAHUAH bring the universe into existence?
Why did He create the world as He did?
Why did He create man?
While we will never truly know the “mind” of Elohim, YAHUAH has given His people a degree of wisdom and understanding on the topic of Creation. This small degree of understanding will help us to understand our purpose in the world and, thus, provide guidance on how we ought to live our lives.
If we know why we’re here, then we’ll know how we should live. We’ll know what to pursue and what to avoid. The Torah begins here because if we get this understanding down, then all the rest of the Torah will make sense. Parsha Bereshith gives us our destination, and all the rest of the Torah is the roadmap to get there.
The Purpose of Man’s Existence
So, why are we here?
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (the Ramchal) summed it up in one sentence in his book Derech Hashem. He said,
“[Elohim]’s purpose in creation was to bestow of His good to another.”
Yes, it’s that simple. YAHUAH desired to show good to another.
However, as with anything in Torah, it goes deeper.
For YAHUAH to completely satisfy His benevolent nature, He would have to not just bestow good, but He would have to bestow the ultimate good - only the best and most complete good in existence. Anything less would be insufficient.
The ultimate good is absolute perfection. It is something that has no faults, lackings, or deficiencies. The only true perfection in existence is...
In order to bestow the ultimate good to another, YAHUAH would have to give Himself. He would have to create a being that would be able to join and attach itself to Him.
Thus, the creation of man - a being capable of having a relationship with its Creator; a being capable of receiving and appreciating the most perfect and ultimate good; a being that could become one with Elohim.
YAHUAH created man so that He could give him the ultimate in goodness - a relationship with Him.
Earning the Ultimate Good
For man to truly experience the ultimate good, he must derive enjoyment from it. He must feel satisfaction and delight from the experience. The best enjoyment and satisfaction comes when we earn it.
It’s like the difference between winning first place and receiving a participation award. First place feels so much better because you know you worked hard and earned it; whereas a participation award is given just for showing up. Earning a reward is more enjoyable and satisfying.
Another example: Think of an expensive item you would like to own. Imagine how happy you’d be if someone gave it to you as a gift.
Now, imagine how you’d feel if you worked hard, saved, sacrificed, and finally bought it yourself. Not only would you be happy, but you’d also feel a deep sense of satisfaction.
There’s a deeper sense of enjoyment that comes when you work for something good and earn it. It’s deeper, truer, and more fulfilling than receiving it as a free gift.
YAHUAH wants us to experience the utmost joy and fulfillment. Therefore, YAHUAH created man in such a way that he would have to earn the ultimate good. He would have to earn a relationship with YAHUAH.
"Whoa! Wait a minute! Earn a relationship with YAH? Nope, that’s wrong."
For some of us, that may sound crazy and completely wrong. In our Christian days, we were taught about the “free gift” of salvation. We were taught that earning our salvation ("as the Jews do") by keeping the commandments is wrong. We’re incapable of doing anything right; therefore, everything must be given to us - for free.
This mentality has muddied our minds and makes it hard to receive true understanding. We hear the word “earn” and immediately think “no way!”
"Earn" simply means to put forth effort in order to receive something. If we want to have a relationship with YAHUAH, then we have to "work" for it. We have to put forth effort to draw close to Him.
YAHUAH gives us a head start. He gave us a neshama. He breathed a part of Himself into us. Therefore, everyone - every single living and breathing person on earth - has a natural inclination and deep yearning to connect to HaKadosh Baruch Hu (the Set-Apart One, Blessed is He).
However, our neshama is housed in a body. We're not perfect, and we're not entirely good either.
But YAHUAH is. He is perfect, and He is entirely good.
So, in order to connect and attach ourselves to Him, we must be like Him. We must strive to attain as much perfection and good as we can humanly attain. This is how we “work” and “earn” closeness to YAHUAH: We strive to become more like Him.
We work to become kind, compassionate, generous, loving, giving, patient, forgiving, trustworthy, slow to anger, truthful, etc.
All the good qualities that YAHUAH has, we strive to have.
We strive to emulate YAHUAH. This is our “work.” This is how we “earn” the ultimate good.
The more we resemble YAHUAH, the closer we can draw to Him. The closer we are to Him Who is the ultimate good, then the more good we will experience. And because we exerted effort, it will be the most fulfilling enjoyment possible.
The Nature of the World
This explains why the world is the way it is. The goal of creation was man. Everything else was created to help man fulfill his purpose of having a relationship with his Creator.
If we have to "work" to experience the ultimate good, then YAHUAH had to create a world that would make us work.
He had to create a world in which a relationship with YAHUAH was not readily apparent, so we would have to use effort to seek Him and attach ourselves to Him.
Therefore, the world is set in such a way that we have to choose good and reject evil.
We have to seek that which will draw us closer to YAHUAH and withdraw from that which will pull us away from YAHUAH.
We have to follow the good inclination of our neshama, and conquer the evil inclination of our flesh.
We have to strive to pursue the good, the set-apart, and the true, and work to avoid the bad, the unclean, and the false.
We have to endure through the trials and struggles that attempt to deter us from the path of set-apartness.
We have to break through the barriers that separate us from YAH and persevere to overcome the obstacles on our path to goodness.
Thus, the world as we know it - a mixture containing both things that will draw us closer to YAHUAH and things that will pull us away. All created so we have to “work” to draw closer to YAH.
When we put forth the effort, then we will experience the real, true delight of becoming one with YAHUAH. Not the fleeting happiness of physical things, but the deeply satisfying, pure enjoyment of YAH’s Presence.
“Our sages of blessed memory have taught us that man was created for the sole purpose of rejoicing in [Elohim] and deriving pleasure from the splendor of His Presence; for this is true joy and the greatest pleasure that can be found.” (Ramchal, Messilat Yesharim).
"One matter I asked of YAHUAH - this I seek: To dwell in the House of YAHUAH all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of YAHUAH, and to inquire in His Hekal." (Teh/Ps. 27:4)
Now, we should understand why the Torah begins with Creation. Creation establishes the purpose of the entire Torah. Man was created for the sole purpose of having a relationship with his Creator. The rest of the Torah tells us how.
Creation establishes our destination (Gan Eden), and the rest of the Torah is the roadmap.
When we understand why we’re here, then we’re more inclined to obey the Torah. We won’t see the mitzvot as a discretionary list of do’s and don’ts that may or may not make sense. The mitzvot provide guidance on achieving oneness with Elohim.
The mitzvot are the means by which we can experience the greatest, most satisfying, most real and pure enjoyment and happiness that is humanly possible - the splendor of nearness to YAHUAH.
"But as for me, it is good to be near Elohim." (Teh/Ps. 73:28)
“My purpose in life is to draw close to YAHUAH. This will give me the ultimate good and the utmost joy. Anything else is inferior and insufficient.”
Commit this understanding to memory, and let it guide you in all that you do.