Art by Matthew Klaver
By Yael Dworkin
Breishis!! New Year. New Potential. New Beginnings.
We are all invited to create ourselves anew with authentically inspired
originality- to become wholesome, integrated, and complete. Putting away the mirror that only reflects the distortions of past limitations, rather, we are encouraged to look ahead and move forward with the permission to birth our great and holy potential, not yet actualized, not yet revealed. We have G-dly souls. We have that much ability to manifest. Baruch HaShem.
I could end this dvar Torah on this positive uplifting note- but I want to
share something more with you. Something I find oddly and counter
intuitively comforting. A teaching that holds within it the key with the
promise to open for us the way to developing into our holiest most
“And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good…”
“Very Good- this is referring to death, the evil inclination, or calamities”
(Medrash Breishit Raba 9:5)
Everything that we consider ‘very bad’ is, in fact, categorically ‘very good’ (!?!). The medrash here is telling us that everything that exists, even the most damaging things in the world has a raison d’etre- a reason for being and a right to exist. All the pain we feel, all our disappointments, heartaches, fears, and losses we suffer are ‘very good’?
Yes. Very Good.
Rav Ashlag ztz”l, in his article called “Peace in the World”, explains:
In all the various classifications that exist in the world we see the law of
gradual development. For instance: before a fruit is ripe and juicy and
sweet, it is bitter. Everything that lives and breathes goes through stages of development that start from an unformed, undeveloped stage to gradually becoming what it was meant to be in its fully actualized form.
Because we understand this fundamental principle of gradual development, we would never consider that a tree baring unripe bitter fruits to be a bad tree- because we understand that the un-ripened fruits simply did not yet complete their growth and development. So too with all matters in existence, when a matter seems bad and harmful to us, this is not a testimony of the matter itself being bad- but rather, it is simply being seen at its transitional developing phase. Everything G-d created in this world is meant to ultimately serve the good in the world. It may not be evident in its transitional phases, but regarding where things are meant to get to- everything is Very Good.
Rav Ashlag ztz”l explains that this is equally true regarding our evil
inclinations. Our bad character traits are to be understood as mere stages in our development- necessary for our developing consciousness. As babies, we are born quite egocentric. It is a necessary stage of development. Developing and growing spiritually means replacing egotism with altruism. But it’s a process. We need healthy egos to start off with if our divine service is going to mean anything. Good has meaning in the context of bad. Transforming undesirable traits to good ones is the ultimate
in divine service. This is not an easy thing to do, as there is much
resistance, pain and suffering by the ego to let go of comfort and self-
serving desires. But the growth pain we go through, as we train ourselves to serve a higher purpose than simply ourselves, is very good because it is meant to take us to the ultimate good- which is dveikus (closeness) with G-d.
The world doesn’t always look to us to be such a good place. There is
death, suffering, calamities. The good news is that these scenarios are not the final chapter of the book. They are simply stages humanity has to go through until we will get to the final ripened stage of it being Very Good, until we will all be ‘very good’, understanding what we are meant to be and do. G-d created the world, but He also gave us the ultimate most complete instruction manual to go with it!
May we merit seeing with our own eyes soon the ultimate good. May we
merit to know to stay bsimcha (utter joy and happiness) when things look
awful, knowing how to develop correctly in the right direction to the Very
Good that was G-d’s intention when creating us and the world- Amen!