Breishis -The Integration of Heaven and Earth

Based on the Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh on Parashas Breishis

 Tishrei is coming to a close. The year is just beginning to manifest a recreation that took place this past month.  It is with this sentiment that we read Breishis, the story of the creation of Heaven and Earth and all that will ever happen between and within them.


The Arizal says that the word Tishrei can be read in Hebrew as “תשרה”  which can mean, “He shall dwell”.  Indeed, that describes the spiritual potency of Tishrei in which Hashem Presence literally “dwelt” with us.  


The question is – where do we go now? What happens next? Parashas Breishis give us the answer in the creation of Heaven and Earth. It is not Heaven that concerns G-d as much as the Earth.  In a word, what He wants most now and where we need to put our energies – is integration – between Heaven and Earth. 


The Ohr Hachayim, sometimes called the “Baal Shem Tov of Morocco”, commentator on the Torah, offers twenty mystical interpretations of the first few verses of the Torah, mostly attached to the very first word, “בראשית”.


The twentieth one really spoke to me and is painfully beautiful. He says: (adapted/ translated from the original Hebrew)


The creation of the world is in fact a hint to the creation of man, since the purpose of the world is man.  This hinted layer of Torah can be seen in the words themselves.


“In the beginning Elokim created the Heavens and the Earth” – man Is comprised of two components, body and soul, hinted to in the words “Heaven” and “Earth”, since his body was taken from the earth and his soul was blown into his nostrils by Hashem.


The purpose of man’s creation is that he may convert his “earthiness”, his physicality, into into G-dliness and ruchniut (spirituality), into “Heaven”). When he succeeds in transforming his body’s dense physicality into holiness and light, he is called a tzddik and satisfies the purpose of all creation.


The other option for man is for his precious and holy soul, the component called “heaven”,  to be pulled into the muck of his “earth” – his courser existence, and become obliterated there.  This is the choice of the reshaim, the wicked.


Let’s see how this plays out in the ensuing verses.


“And the land was tohu and vohu – emptiness and chaos.” The land refers to man’s body, the base animalistic layer of unrectified humanity.


“And there was darkness…” This is the yetzer hara, since the evil inclination is called “darkness”…


On the face of the deep.” The Evil inclination at this stage rules the body with a supreme monopoly.  Like a black hole, the body just absorbs more and more of the evil one’s darkness into an imploding abyss devoid of G-d.


“And the Spirit of G-d hovered on the face of the water…[1] the spirit of Hashem, prohibited from entering the body of man, cannot penetrate to redeem what seems unredeemable, with its simple force of goodness.




“And G-d said, “let there be light”.  Hashem sends the only possible agent of change into the darkness of the body to transform it – the soul, carrier of light, itself hewn from the throne of Glory and a piece of G-d Himself.[2]  In this way, we do not have to drown in the mire and muck of our baser natures.


“And G-d saw the light that it was good.” What was previously an impossible set-up now has a fighting chance. We can succeed in this world and the story of creation WILL have a good ending.


“And G-d separated between the light and the darkness…”  But He didn’t remove the darkness.  In order for us to truly earn the highest good, the battle remains.  Evil will only be neutralized on the day that history is complete with the coming of Moshiach.


“And He calls the light “day” and the dark “night”” – let us not get confused between them. Let the chaos and emptiness of a purely physical existence be infused with our light and thereby be transformed.  We can only achieve this when we have clarity, know what is what and call it such.


“And it was evening, and it was morning, one day”.  Together the darkness and the light set the stage of our lives and are ultimately One in creating the most perfect world – an inner world, for us to transform, from darkness to light.  

[1] (“on the face of the water refers to the waters of impurity, unchecked passion and greed)


[2] The light can also refer to the Torah which is called light.  In truth, the soul, Hashem and the Torah are all one (Zohar)