How Great Are Your Works!
Each day in the Morning Prayer we recite, “Who in His goodness renews each day, continuously, the work of Creation.” Every day Hashem renews the Creation that He brought into existence. However the language of this prayer seems to indicate that Hashem is not content with just renewing Creation each day. This in itself is something extraordinary: Day follows day, yet in His goodness Hashem is constantly renewing the work of Creation. Thus each day He does us this kindness.
Let us try and imagine what the world would resemble, and what we ourselves would be like, if Hashem had never renewed Creation. There’s no way to picture it! As a result, by the fact of renewing Creation each day, Hashem demonstrates His kindness to us. What is the nature of this kindness? In this week’s parsha, within the song Haazinu, we read of the great kindness and goodness that Hashem bestowed to His people Israel in comparison to the other nations. Among other things we read, “The Supreme One gave the nations their inheritance when He separated the children of man…for the L-RD’s portion is His people; Jacob is the measure of His inheritance…He discovered him in a desert land…He would suckle him with honey from a stone and oil from a flinty rock” (Deuteronomy 32:8-10,13). This proves just how much good Hashem does for us, just to what point He protects His people Israel, and just to what extent He loves us more than the other nations, for they do nothing but constantly irritate Him.
However in the final analysis, are we really thinking about what we are saying? Do we understand, be it just a little, the wonders and kindnesses that Hashem demonstrates to us each day, continuously and at each instant?
To our great regret and shame, there are many people who simply deny the reality of the Creator. They claim that all things are part of nature, that everything occurs on its own, and that the world has no ruler! Some believe that Hashem ascended to the heights and has no interest in what His creations do below, since to them everything happens by chance, as an everyday occurrence. Concerning such people the Gemara states, “One is allowed to follow the road he wishes to pursue” (Makot 10b). However we have more than enough to silence them.
We must realize that there is no reality to what people call “nature.” We are told in sacred writings that hateva (nature) has the same numerical value as Elokim. This means that nature itself was created by G-d. If we do not instill this realization into our hearts and minds, however, we will end up denying Hashem and all His works, for nature and Hashem are like two inseparable friends.
However there are two aspects to nature itself, and indeed to all of Creation, for all things were created in this way. There is mercy on one hand, since Hashem shows mercy to the Jewish people and guides the world according to kindness and mercy, and there is justice on the other. This means that when the Jewish people do not act as they should, Hashem guides the world according to the attribute of justice and is uncompromising. That being the case, no one can emerge innocent.
Justice and mercy are found with each separate individual. Sometimes we see that things are all working out for the best, such as when our work is flourishing, when we derive satisfaction from life, and so on. This is because at that moment the Holy One, blessed be He, is dealing with us according to the attribute of mercy. Conversely, we sometimes have the definite impression that “things aren’t right,” that everything is going wrong. Why does this happen?
As we have said, when things are going wrong, when the Torah is not penetrating our minds and we are facing problems and misfortunes, we must realize that the Holy One, blessed be He, is dealing with us according to the attribute of justice. Yet at the same time, we need to understand that we must still thank Him regardless of the attribute He uses in dealing with us. As our Sages have said concerning King David’s statement, “I will raise the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the L-RD” (Psalms 116:13): “I found trouble and sorrow, but I called upon the Name of the L-RD” (Berachot 60b). We no doubt believe that to arrive at such a point, we must be at a certain spiritual level. Yet in reality, this is completely not true. In our parsha it is written, “When I proclaim the name of the L-RD, ascribe greatness to our G-d” (Deuteronomy 32:3). That is, at first the verse employs the Name that corresponds to the attribute of mercy, followed by the Name corresponding to the attribute of justice. From here we learn that even when justice prevails, we must nevertheless render homage to Hashem and thank Him.
We may still ask, despite all this, how we can thank and glorify G-d when we are struck by strict justice. That is, when things (in general and specifically) are not going well, our minds find it hard to tolerate and our daily routine is disrupted. Therefore how can we thank Hashem during such times?
This is why we said at the outset that each day Hashem renews the work of Creation. Now just what is “the work of Creation”? Everyone must realize that “the world was created for my sake” (Sanhedrin 37a). Each person must be conscious of what the Sages said, namely that the whole world was created for the sake of the Jewish people. At the same time, we must also remember that the world was created for something else, since it was created for two things called reshith (“beginning”): Israel and the holy Torah. If the Torah would no longer be studied, the world would revert to chaos. Without Torah, there would be no reason for having a world. However with Torah, everything transforms into mercy.
How does all this happen? The Torah stems entirely from mercy, and when a person studies Torah he fully understands that everything emanates from G-d and that everything is very good – that even strict justice is a form of mercy – since by the Torah we can transform justice into mercy. It is precisely through the Torah that we may see how different we are from the other peoples, as stated in this week’s parsha: “He set the borders of the peoples according to the number of the Children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:8). When the Jewish people do G-d’s will, He does their will and sends them good in abundance.