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Torah Attitude: Parashas Tazria: The world was created for me

March 20, 2003


Humans were created at the very end after the rest of creation. Four reasons are offered why we were created last. Gd created existence so that everything is ready for all situations. Gd commanded us not to spoil or destroy His world. Every person is obligated to say, The world was created for me. We should maintain a constant attitude of appreciation for everything that Gd does for us. Animals receive their sustenance from Gd without pain, so why do I not? In these times of trouble, we must join together as one.

Animals then humans

Rav Simlai in the Midrash says that just like the creation of man was after all the animals were created, so too the laws regarding man follow after the laws regarding animals. Last weeks Torah reading (Shemini) talked about the laws of purity concerning animals. We learned which animals are kosher to eat and which are not. This weeks Torah reading talks about the laws of purity concerning humans, including birth, relations between spouses, plagues and otherwise.

Man created last

Why was man created last, after all the rest of creation? Our sages relate (Sanhedrin 38a) that man was created on the Friday, the last day of creation, just before Shabbos. They offer four reasons why man was created at this time: (1) to disprove the non-believers who argue that man assisted Gd in the creation process; if man was not created until the end how could he possibly be one of the original partners in creation; (2) the arrogant among us are reminded that even the tiniest insect was created before any human (3) as soon as man was created he immediately could fulfill the mitzvot of Shabbos; (4) everything was created for man to use for his benefit, like the King who builds a palace and makes preparation for a feast, and only then invites his guests to enter for their enjoyment.

Everything ready for all situations

Although each of the four reasons is different from the other, they are each true and they complete each other. In His infinite wisdom, Gd created existence so that everything is ready for all situations. Saving the creation of man for last addresses the non-believer, the arrogant and the righteous at the same time. On the one hand, man is the crown of creation. On the other hand, man cannot claim priority over the tiniest insect. In addition, there is a message that man was created with the purpose to fulfill the mitzvos.

Do not spoil or destroy

Koheles (7:13) says See the works of Gd, who can correct his wrongdoing? The Midrash comments that when Gd created Adam, He took him on a guided tour of the Garden of Eden, showing him all the trees. Gd said Look how beautiful and praiseworthy is all that I created. I created it all for you. Make sure not to spoil and destroy My world.

Everything for man

Everything was created by Gd for man to use. But Gd also warned man to use it for his benefit and not to destroy it. Dynamite, for example, can be used to help mankind and enhance our lives by blasting holes through mountains to make tunnels for transportation, or it can be used to produce weapons of mass destruction and destroy life. Basically, the same applies to every new technological and scientific invention and development.

Everything for me

Our sages tell us (Sanhedrin 37a) that every person is obligated to say, The world was created for me. Rashi explains that the correct attitude should be to think that if I am so important, and the whole world was created for me, then how could I think of doing even one transgression. This attitude brings us to stop in our tracks whenever we have a choice to make. However, the arrogant may say that if the whole world was created for me, then I expect everyone and everything to serve my needs. Just like the child who expects every wish to be fulfilled, the arrogant expect that their needs will be treated with priority over everything else.

Continual appreciation

However, the Talmud (Brachos 58a) teaches that the realization of the world being created for me obligates me to appreciate everything that Gd created and does for me on a continual basis. The Talmud relates that Ben Zoma witnessed a huge gathering of people at the Temple mount. He blessed and thanked Gd for creating all these people to serve him. When Adam was first removed from the Garden of Eden, said Ben Zoma, it was necessary for him to make bread by the sweat of his brow. Adam had to plow, sow, harvest, gather, thresh, winnow, separate, grind, sift, kneed, and bake before he could put bread on his table. I merely get up in the morning and find it all prepared for me.

Animals receive sustenance without pain

On a similar note, the Talmud (Kiddushin 82) relates what Rav Shimon ben Elazar exclaimed: Did you ever see an animal that needed a job to make a living? The animals receive their sustenance from Gd without pain and they were created just to serve me. I was created just to serve Gd. Should I not get my sustenance without pain also? Only my wrongdoings are to be blamed for my difficulties in earning a living.

Obligated to appreciate every detail

All of creation was created for man. The plants and animals provide us with food and material for clothing, housing, and otherwise. We were all created to assist and provide for each other. This does not entitle any of us to abuse or exploit any part of Gds world. On the contrary, this obligates us to appreciate every detail of this wonderful creation and exclaim: How abundant are Your works, Gd. You made them all with wisdom (Tehillim 104:24).

Times of trouble

In these days we witness how the president of the United States, George W. Bush, has risen to the challenge of ridding the world of an evil tyrant, a dictator who does not care about anyone but himself. Saddam Hussein personifies the evil, arrogant, person who abuses his power, and will kill and destroy to further his own interest. He exploits his own subjects and even uses women and children as human shields for himself and his henchmen. He is a threat to the world at large and in particular to our brothers and sisters in the land of Israel. This is how low a human being can fall when he looks at himself as the centerpiece of the universe.

These are dangerous times for Jews all over the world. There is a real threat that the hatred of anti-Semitism could easily be ignited by blaming the Jewish people for any suffering caused by this war. We must join together as one and pray to Gd that He gives His divine assistance to the coalition to stop the forces of evil. May this war, between the descendants of Esav and the descendants of Yishmael, be the last of all wars. And may the world experience the coming of Mashiach and the fulfillment of the words of the prophet (Yeshayah 2:4): One nation will not lift a sword against another nation and they will not study any more how to battle. Then all the people will truly benefit in peace and prosperity from this beautiful world that Gd created for everyones enjoyment.

These words were based on a talk given by Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel