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Torah Attitude: Parashas Tazria-Metzora: The world was created for me
This Torah Attitude is dedicated to Rosa Kahn, Rodesh bat Avram, who was nifter last week. May her neshamah have an Aliyah. Rabbi Kahn will be sitting shiva in Israel.
"Just like man was created after all the animals, so too the laws regarding man follow after the laws regarding animals." The Talmud offers four reasons why we were created last. G'd created the world so that it is ready for all situations. G'd commanded us not to spoil or destroy His world. G'd warned man to use the world for his benefit and not to destroy it. Every person is obligated to say, "The world was created for me." When a person realizes that the world was created for him, it obligates him to appreciate everything that G'd created and does for him on a continual basis. Animals receive their sustenance from G'd without pain. We are obligated to appreciate every detail of G'd's wonderful creation.
Animals then humans
In the beginning of this week's parasha (Vayikra 12:2) Rashi quotes the Midrash Rabbah (14:1) that states: "Just like man was created after all the animals, so too the laws regarding man follow after the laws regarding animals." The Midrash refers to the end of last week's parasha (Shemini) where the Torah instructed about the laws of purity in regards to animals, i.e. which animals are kosher and which are not. This week's parasha starts with the laws of purity concerning humans, including birth, marital relations, plagues, etc.
Man created last
Why was man only created at the very end of creation? The Talmud (Sanhedrin 38a) teaches that man was created on Friday, the last day of creation, just in time for Shabbos. The Talmud offers four reasons why man was created at this particular time: (1) To disprove the non-believers who argue that man assisted G'd in creation. For if man was not created until the end, there is no way he could possibly be an original partner 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 many mitzvot of Shabbos; (4) Everything was created for man to use for his benefit. This is comparable to a king who builds a palace and makes all the preparation for a big feast. Only when everything is complete will the king invite his guests to enter and enjoy the feast.
Everything ready for all situations
All of the four reasons complete each other. In His infinite wisdom, G'd created the world so that it is ready for all situations. Leaving the creation of man until the end addresses the non-believer, the arrogant and the righteous all at the same time. On the one hand, man is the crown of creation. On the other hand, man cannot claim superiority over any creature, for even the tiniest insect was created before him. Finally, there is a message indicating that man was created with the purpose to fulfill the mitzvos.
Do not spoil or destroy
In Koheles (7:13) King Solomon says "See the works of G'd. For which person can correct what he has done wrong?" The Midrash comments on this that when G'd created Adam, He took him on a tour of the Garden of Eden. G'd showed him all the trees and said "Look how beautiful and praiseworthy it is. All that I created, I created it all for you. Make sure not to spoil and destroy My world."
Everything for man
G'd created everything for man's use. At the same time, G'd 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. We can blast holes through mountains to make tunnels for transportation, or we can produce weapons of mass destruction and destroy life. Basically, the same applies to every technological and scientific invention and development.
Everything for me
The Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) teaches that every person is obligated to say, "The world was created for me." Rashi explains that this should bring a person to think that if I am so important, and the whole world was created just for me, then how could I think of doing even one transgression. Such an attitude brings us to stop and think 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 children who expect their every wish to be fulfilled, the arrogant expect that their needs will be treated with priority over everything else.
The truth is just the opposite. The Talmud (Berachos 58a) teaches that when a person realizes that the world was created for him it obligates him to appreciate everything that G'd created and does for him on a continual basis. The Talmud relates that Ben Zoma witnessed a huge gathering of people at the Temple mount. He blessed and thanked G'd for creating all these people to serve him. Said Ben Zoma, when Adam was first removed from the Garden of Eden, he had 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", said Ben Zoma, "merely get up in the morning and find it all prepared for me." If we analyze all the things we use as consumers, we will find that thousands of people have been involved in producing them.
Animals receive sustenance without pain
On a similar note, the Talmud (Kiddushin 82) relates that 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 G'd without pain and they were created just to serve me. I was created just to serve G'd. Should I not get my sustenance without pain also? Only my wrongdoings are to be blamed for my difficulties in earning a living". Obviously, there can be many other reasons why G'd is giving a person a hard time, but Rav Shimon felt, in his humility, that this was the way to understand his personal situation.
Obligated to appreciate every detail
All of creation was created for our benefit. The plants and animals provide us with food and material for clothing, housing, etc. All of us were created to assist and provide for each other. However, this does not entitle someone to abuse or exploit any part of G'd's world. On the contrary, this obligates us to appreciate every detail of His wonderful creation and exclaim: "How abundant are Your works, G'd. You made them all with wisdom (Tehillim 104:24).
These words were based on notes of Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto.
Shalom. Michael Deverett
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