The Torah’s very first verse carries a profoundly deep message.
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
As everyone knows, the Torah opens up with the story of creation. As it says: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
This is the very first verse of the Torah, which, by extension, means that the meaning of life begins with this verse. But the verse is a little too simple and even straightforward. What cosmic message might there be to learn from the first verse of the Torah?
It is explained that the most important and fundamental message for all mankind is to be found in this verse — that the world has a Creator!
We have to know that there is a captain to this ship. Nothing happens by chance. Just like God created the world some 6,000 years ago, He continues to re-create and manage everything in our lives.
We must never think that we are in control. We have to remember that He is in control. This is the most fundamental message we must remind ourselves every single day. Remembering that there is Someone up there looking over us reminds us that there is a reason for everything that happens. Life has meaning and purpose. Nothing is random.
Without keeping this message in mind one will always feel lacking and unfulfilled. There will always be a void. It doesn’t matter how much wealth and riches one might have, if there is oblivion to a Creator who showers us with blessing and knows every movement in our life then one will never be truly happy.
Think of a person who has absolutely everything one can want in life. The huge house, fancy cars, wads of cash without limit at one’s disposal, you name it. But this person lives alone. All alone. On an island somewhere.
Is this person really happy?
No. Not possible.
The same is true with a life without a connection with the Creator. Without this meaning in life, there is no real enjoyment or satisfaction. Life with God is a more meaningful life. Sure…not all the rules of the Torah are fun to observe, but we take the fun with the uncomfortable and together life is certainly more meaningful.
And then we read, “And the earth was empty and void, and darkness was upon the waters … and God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:2,3).
The “light” of this verse surely does not mean the sun. The sun was created on the fourth day of creation. “Light” in this context means “meaning” and “inspiration”. It is telling us to look for “light” when we are faced with “darkness.”
It doesn’t take much light to take away the darkness. A small candle can usually provide enough light for immediate needs. God is our “light”, as King David says in Psalm 27. Not every day is going to be a good day. Some days will be filled with “darkness”. When that happens, we need to find the “light” – God.
Whenever one feels down one must reach out to God, our Light, or Rock, our Redeemer. Letting God into your life at all times is important, and even more so with things are dark.
I once saw a piece of advice that when things are “dark” one should repeat to oneself “Let there be light.” By repeating these words or doing anything you feel you can do to reach out to God in your own way, you will begin to feel God in your life.
And you thought there wasn’t much to learn in the first verse of the Torah!