Rosh Hashanah, Creation of the Universe, and prayer

    September 2009            
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Rosh Hashanah:
When was the world created?

By Avi Lazerson

It is a mistake to think that God created the world 5770 years ago and then spent the rest of the time overseeing the creation. This is a mistake and it has great implications in our daily lives as we shall soon see.

It may be true that the world as we know it came into existence 5770 years ago and before that did not exist, but that does not mean that creation ended at that time; rather the process of creation and hence, existence both as the world that we perceive and our own personal life, is a constant on going process of creation. This does not mean that there is an ongoing addition to an existing creation, which would be in the case of a person who builds a house and then constantly adds on to it. Even though this is a constantly ongoing creative process it is based on the fact that the original creation (the house) is intact, only that it is constantly being remodeled. This is not the case of G-d's creation.

When we say the creation is a constant and on going process it means that every microsecond the creation is being recreated. It is like the dots on your computer screen that make up an image. They are being refreshed at a rate of sixty or seventy times a second which is so fast that what you perceive as a static picture is really millions of pixels being shot at the screen so fast that the eye can not discern the old pixel fading and the new pixel landing on the screen. This is a constant on going creation process.

Only G-d's creation is a bit more complex than that. When He creates and then recreates in each and every possible moment, every molecule and every proton, every minuscule particle, every thing in creation ceases to exist and then is created totally anew. Why: Because it is His desire that the creation be renewed every moment and not be a static creation with additions and subtractions, as in the case of the home that is constantly being remodeled.

At this point we should be asking ourselves the question: What possibly is the reason that G-d created the world in this manner of constant re-creation and not in the manner of constant remodeling? What is gained by this manner of creation?

The reason is simple: In the case of the home being remodeled, the builder does not concern himself with the home once it is built, but only with the new additions. When G-d recreates the world every moment, He actively takes part is every aspect of creation each and every moment and not like the computer screen which throws up light particles on a computer screen without thought and desire. What this means to us is that G-d is an active director of the world; there is no chance happening, everything is being directed by divine guidance each and every moment.

Therefore what happens in the world, whether we perceive of it as good or bad, is by the direct divine direction of a kind and merciful G-d who only does good. Only one aspect of creation does G-d leave in our hands; that is the decision to have fear of G-d or not to fear Him. Every thing else, our fortunes, our health, our happiness comes through a divine direction from above.

We are fortunate for two reasons. Firstly, we know that G-d is compassionate; every action that He brings upon us and into the world is only for our benefit. Like a parent directing a child for his good, whether the child knows it or not, directs the child to a good path. The child may prefer something that is not a good choice but a loving parent will direct the child in the proper path. It may even come to be that the parent slaps the child's wrist or even spanks the child, but it is only out of love for the child and his only good that the parent takes this decision and not to give pain and harm to the child. Similarly G-d may bring upon us events that we do not find pleasing. Although we can not understand the ways of G-d, we do know that He seeks our best interest. We can hardly understand his holy Torah; so we must accept His decrees with the understanding that it is for our best. So therefore, since G-d is actively directing the world, both in the aspect of the total world and also in our personal world, nothing can happen to us that is not for our personal benefit, even though we can not perceive it as such.

When we consider that each and every action comes upon each and every person by divine decree; that G-d in His greatness is creating the world constantly under His divine scrutiny, we can begin to realize the greatness of G-d. He is aware of each grain of sand, of each leave on each tree, of each molecule of water and he directs them to where they belong. He gives life to everything through His constant awareness, i.e. creation, of that very molecule and object.

But even more so when we realize that He who has infinitely superior wisdom listens to our prayers, like a benevolent and wise father who listens to his young and simple child's requests which are not always the best requests, yet the father listens and has compassion on his child's lack of ability to express himself in adult terms or even desire that which is truly desirable, and he grants the child's wishes. So too with us, we are fortunate that G-d is merciful and compassionate; He created us and He knows who we really are; after all He created us. He listens to our pitiful requests and quite often makes changes in His creation to accommodate our wishes.

Although Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are times of prayer and mercy, there is never a time that the gates of prayer are closed. G-d has no time when prayer can not reach Him and He is ready to listen to a contrite heart and a truthful request.


from the September 2009 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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