Nov 29, 2012

How Does Hashem Make People?

How Does Hashem Make People?
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Recently a young child asked me "Rabbi, how does Hashem make people?" It was one of those questions. My response was short, sweet (I hope), and pointed with gratitude to the "mere" fact of being alive.

This is a more fleshed-out reflection on that question, written with as little "filter" as possible.

I move about my daily life, largely unaware of the blood flowing through capillaries and veins, ignorant of synapses firing and toxins being filtered. Jewish tradition has us recite a blessing for our bodies' inner plumbing, designed to supported our physical beings in countless ways. We know this best when one function is impaired, and we value the saving of life above every other mitzvah. It is a profound gift to be alive, to have a body. My body exists to do good in the world, and that is how Hashem makes me.

I meet with many people each day. Some are old, some are young. Some are healthy, some are getting healthy. Some are dying. Some are Jewish, some are not, some are in-between. It is a profound gift to look someone else in the eyes and hear their story. I exist to be connected with others, and that is how Hashem makes me.

My ancestors who are alive are in me. My ancestors who have died are alive in me. This is true for each of us. The wealth of human experience is impossible for one person, one People, one generation to carry. Therefore, knowing our roots, knowing that every human being alive has roots, that every double-helix in every person's makeup carries the experiences of millennia is the beginning of awe and wisdom. It is a profound gift to be one image of God in the midst of many, each one of us reaching back and forth in time. Our existence is the profound gift of Infinite Connectivity, and that is how Hashem makes us.

Rabbi Chayim of Volozhin, in his magisterial "Nefesh haChayim", points out that the verse ""the One who makes the great lights (Ps. 136:7)" is written in the present tense (NH 1:2). This means that God's Creation is an ongoing process, that we and the universe are constantly being made.

To the precious child who asked a precious question, I say with all my heart: You are a profound gift of love, and that is how Hashem makes you.