Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Tazria

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


Last week's Torah reading discussed what we ordinarily refer to as "kosher" and "non-kosher" animals, birds and insects - many of these, the Torah describes as pure and impure. This week, the Torah goes on to describe states of impurity that befall people. Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, quotes a Talmudic sage (Rav Simlai) who says that this fits very well - after all, the Creation of man also followed the Creation of the animals!

The Medrash says something which might appear self-contradictory: "if a person merits it, they say to him, 'you preceded all the works of Creation;' but if not, they say to him, 'the mosquito came before you!'" In Jewish thought, there is no contradiction: we are given the tools to analyze both sides of this coin.

It is true that in the physical order of Creation, humans come last. But why do they come last? Because everything was building up to the final purpose of Creation. Jewish sources make it clear that the world, indeed the universe, was created for human beings, who alone are able to choose good and avoid evil. The universe was created in order that we be given this opportunity to come closer to G-d of our own volition. We have free choice - now, what choices do we make?

A person who chooses good attaches him or herself to G-d and Torah, adopting Divine attributes such as a giving nature, and care and concern for other people. The world was created in order to provide that soul with the opportunity to do just what he or she is doing! So, indeed, what came first? Even before Creation, there was the idea of creating an environment where souls could fulfill this mission. "You preceded all the works of Creation."

But on the other hand, if a person runs after every base instinct and desire, then this person is denying "G-dliness" in favor of the animal kingdom. What is he or she? A sophisticated animal! Merely the latest in a chain of animals stretching back to Creation... and indeed, "the mosquito came before you."

So indeed, we have complete freedom to choose whatever we would like to be. Anything we want! But who would want to be an animal, when he or she can be like G-d?

Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Nourishment for the Soul
Shlomo Katz - 5760

The Rainbow Coalition
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Positive Speech Builds a Brighter World
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Worlds Apart
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5764

The Day Falsehood Married Destruction
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Certain Things Noach Did Not Have To Worry About
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

People In Stone Houses Shouldn
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

Leave They Must
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

People In Stone Houses Should not Cast Bricks
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

ArtScroll

New Beginnings
Shlomo Katz - 5762

In His Generation
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Resilience is Key
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

> What Goes Around Comes Around
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

The Path to Serving God
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

A Wasted Tragedy
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5762

Compounded Interest
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information