Fires rage, bullets fly, lands quake, and rivers flood. It seems like violence (natural and otherwise) is fast becoming a daily reality, and we are given front row tickets (courtesy of modern media) to behold its fury. Amidst all the chaos one can’t help but wonder, “Why is God allowing this to happen?” If the basis of Theism (the practice of which is Theology) is a God/man relationship, where is our heavenly “partner” in this, our hour of need?
To understand the Divine lesson in “struggle”, we must first begin with the following Talmudic axiom: “Evil does not descend from Heaven.” Clarify the Rabbis, God never causes evil to descend “from heaven,” i.e. from the spiritual worlds above. Meaning, evil (as a mechanism) exists only “below heaven” - in the consciousness of our world. And what is its purpose? Explains Kabbalah, to cause an awakening (“evil” in Hebrew, “Ra”, when inverted - A before the R - forms the word, “Er”, the meaning of which is “awakening!”) Evil, in any manifestation, explain the Rabbis, comes to awaken us to the existence of an uncorrected weakness - a flaw in our lives (our consciousness) that has persisted too long. And how should we respond to the evil that rises before us? “Teshuvah” (“repentance”) answer the Sages. By aligning our behavior (our thoughts, words, and deeds) with the Creator’s will, we create a Godly center - a refined spiritual core.
The masters of Kabbalah teach, when we shift inwardly (evolve to a more Godly plane) reality - the world around us - shifts (changes) outwardly - becomes beautiful. Did you read that carefully? Reality actually changes (for better or worse) because we change! This phenomena is known in philosophy and science as, “Biocentrism”, or, the creation of outer space (physical reality) from inner space (our reality.) This “man creates his world” hypothesis is fundamental to Torah practice (as seen in many places in Talmud and Kabbalah). Perhaps one of the best examples of this Torah Biocentrism is the Messianic prophecy, “The wolf will live with the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6). Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimonides (RAMBAM) explains that the wolf and lamb are literal - the wolf (predator) will “live with” (no longer attack) the lamb (prey). Why? Because nature, explains the Rambam, will change upon the Messiah’s arrival, i.e. will become kinder. Other commentators take a very different approach, explaining Isaiah’s “wolf” and “lamb” to be a metaphor for our animal soul and Divine soul. Hence, when the Messiah comes, our “wolf” (animal soul) will “live with” (peacefully coexist with ) our “lamb” (Divine soul).
Question: which perspective is correct? Explains the Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of Blessed memory), they both are, for the peaceful coexistence of the wolf and lamb without (physical nature) depends on their peaceful coexistence within (spiritual nature). From the above we can see that nature’s harmony depends on man and is thus a Biocentric expression of his/her consciousness! And this, then, is the lesson, we (human beings) are given the keys to determine our fate. If we unite in peace, love, friendship, and respect, (making Godliness our principle preoccupation), nature will become beautiful - align with the spiritual beauty of our inner space. But if, God forbid, our divisiveness continues (chaotic consciousness), nature will continue her violent assault - a Biocentric expression of human turmoil.
May we all commit to being just a little kinder, patient, giving, and more loving as if the fate of the world depends on it!