Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Rambam: The Foundation of all Foundations




"The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of all wisdoms is to know that there is a first Something that has always existed. And He brings everything into existence. And all existence, from the skies and the earth, and all that is between them cannot exist except through the truth of His creating them"

Ever wondered where to begin life? The philosophers debate this point ad infinitum! Is there a G-d? Isn't there a G-d? This will surely change one's approach to life…

What kind of G-d – if there is one?! Has He abandoned us perhaps? Such a great G-d must surely acknowledge our smallness next to His greatness – and if so, He has surely abandoned His world having no need to associate with those far smaller than He.

Or perhaps, G-d, having now realised what He has done, has surely lost control of His world. Having given man free choice, He can surely not stop man from doing as he wills – ad infinitum. As for G-d, He may just as well have left the world, now having finally created His prize creation!

Or is there more? How are we to ever get by living a life filled with real meaning if we cannot know where to begin living our lives from?!

The Rambam's code – encompassing the entire Torah – was written in a particular order – for a particular reason. As he begins his work with this law, he must surely have meant it for a good reason as well. In fact, there simply is no other way to begin a work that discusses the laws of life than with a law such as this. Cutting through the possibility of philosophical debate of any kind, the Rambam sheds light on the most basic principle of life – G-d!

The Torah itself begins with the words, "In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth." The first of the Ten Commandments states, "I am the L-rd your G-d…"

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that even the very letters for the sentence stating that G-d suspends the firmament in the heavens continually stands in the air holding this command of G-d's in place! Were it not for those letters being suspended – continually, the heavens would collapse, and everything would revert back to a world of total chaos – as it was before G-d set up the order of life we have today.

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that nothing can happen in the world without G-d so decreeing it, without allowing it to happen. G-d watches everything, all the time. He encompasses everything, and is included within everything. One cannot run away from G-d, nor do anything without Him being aware of it.

These are the most basic principles of life. Without G-d, a world of chaos reigns. With Him, the start of a world of balance – of goodness and kindness, begins. He is all-powerful, and completely humble – both at the same time.

The wise man should set his eyes on this. It is the greatest piece of wisdom in the world – to know that this G-d has existed since any moment in time of infinity that anyone could ever dream of. And in turn, He will exist until any moment in time of infinity that anyone is able to dream of. In fact, He exists in both places at once – even now. He continually brings creation into existence every single moment. Not one moment passes by without His constant intervention and supervision in seeing to it that everything exists as it should.

Not like the potter – who takes clay, shapes it and moulds it into a new "creation" – which stands by itself when left afterwards. Not even like a magician who can magically cause the waters of the sea (in existence already) to change their path, forming columns and leaving the dry land for people to walk through. Rather, even the sea is His creation. He creates it from nothingness – a greater miracle than turning a substance of one kind into another – of changing a rule of nature, of changing one form of nature into another.

He continually brings it from nothingness into somethingness. He continually brings every single one of us from a nothingness into a somethingness. Right now, with every blink of our eyes. With every breath we take. With every movement we make. We are being brought into existence anew – every single moment. We are not pottery made from clay whose form has changed. We are literal nothingness – that G-d brings into somethingness existence – every single moment.

One must take a giant leap to enter the world of truth. In the world of falsehood, G-d can be anything. He can even not exist… But in the world of truth, He is here. He always has been. He always will be. And everything that has existed, does exist or ever will exist – is through His doing so… and through his doing so now.

To live any life filled with meaning, means that one must begin life right here. The acknowledgment that G-d does indeed exist, is the first step on the awesome journey of life. On a journey of discovery. A journey of bringing goodness and kindness to this world. A journey of learning about oneself – about one's soul. A journey of connecting with G-d Himself – in this world right here. A journey of bringing G-d into this world and of seeing Him wherever we look. In the heavens above and in the earth below. In the food we eat and the water we drink. In the actions we do, the words we say and the thoughts that we think.

Who can imagine a more exciting journey than the one – that includes G-d?

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