Rabbi Larry Tabick offers us two texts from the Kabbalist Moses Cordovero to continue our thinking about creation. How are we related, as part of God’s creation, to the rest of creation around us?
“For all that exists is a menorah [composed] of sections. It contains no duplications; all is one whole, for [all entities] are parts of the pattern and there is nothing superfluous, that we might say: ‘If one thing out of all that exists were missing, we would not worry, for the pattern would be complete without that creature’ – God forbid! There is nothing that is not necessary. Everything tends toward the perfection of the pattern, even the least creatures among those that exist. The Infinite One rests only on the perfected pattern, and their perfection is dependent on humanity…”
Moses Cordovero (1522-1570), Shi‘ur Qomah (‘The Measure of the Height’) (Jerusalem, 1999; Warsaw, 1883), Torah, chapter 48, pp. 50-51.
“Humanity includes within itself [all] that exists of creation. The fact is that humanity is not in itself at all like any other creature, but resembles them all together. This is the reason why [scripture] says: ‘Let us make humanity’ (Genesis 1:26): because each [creature] put a part of itself into him. And this is why [humanity] was created last, so that it could include [within itself] a part of all creatures”.
Moses Cordovero (1522-1570), Shi‘ur Qomah (‘The Measure of the Height’) (Jerusalem, 1999; Warsaw, 1883), Torah, chapter 4, p. 21.
As we move through the month of Elul we have the opportunity to work on ourselves, in the hope that we might begin a new year ready to make changes and to be the person we feel we could be. At Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the birthday of the world, and as we begin 5780 we know that our actions are increasingly not only impacting on our ‘environment’ (as if we ourselves were somehow detached from it) but changing and endangering our futures in the world.
This Elul, therefore, Reform Judaism is focussing on what wisdom and reflection Judaism can offer us, and encourage us in the changes necessary to make a difference in the upcoming year. Though we begin with ourselves, we do not end with ourselves. The changes we make, in our attitudes, understanding and behaviour affect all around us – our families, communities, our work place, the organisations we belong to, the government and the world itself. It begins with us.
The texts and reflections for this series have been drawn together by Rabbi Jeffrey Newman and Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers, together with members of the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors who are credited individually when appropriate. Reflecting together and learning in partnership has made this a much more meaningful process for us, and if you have the time and someone willing, we hope these texts might also provide a wonderful opportunity for learning with a partner (or chavruta). As Pirkei Avot 1:6 says “make for yourself a teacher; acquire for yourself a friend”.