Tell Me What These Words Mean

The 3rd member of a Sukkot series. Member the 1st. Member the 2nd.

“Every single thing one sees or hears is an instruction for his conduct in the service of G-d. This is the idea of avoda, service: to comprehend and discern in all things a way in which to serve G-d.”
-The Holy Baal Shem Tov

 

Oh, good, you’re reading this.

You’ve already fallen into my trap.

Elephant. Monism. Solar Eclipse. Bucharest. Vlad the Impaler. Mauve. Your grandmother.

Remember, everything you see is an instruction for your behavior in the worship of G-d.

Don’t try and push the interpretative responsibility back onto me; I can’t figure out what the words teach you. No one can.

It is not my soul who places these nouns before you. As far as you know, I, the alleged author of this short note, do not exist.

The universe and everything in it is created ex nihilo, you see. When a human being (again, purportedly) “creates,” they make something from something. They are never the sole cause of what they form: their words need air, their crafts need materials, their children need food. But G-d makes stuff from nothing.

When you see a page with words upon it, only a small aspect, hard to pick out at first glance, is attributable to the author. The rest comes from his “partners”—paper, ink, language, inspiration.

Yet if you encounter the page in G-d’s universe (and they are all G-d’s universes, this being part of what makes Him G-d), you know that everything about it, from its texture to its color to the picture of the monkey, comes from Him and Him alone. The only other partner is absolute nothingness, a party notorious for being the laziest possible contributor; ex nihilo nihil fit.

Picnic. Quasar. Robin Hood. Neural network. Leptons. Your mom. Harmonica.

You cannot attribute the appearance of these words before your eyes to some allege, purported, and extremely so-called “author.” Everything in G-d’s world is attributable, in form and matter, to Him alone.

So you read these words for a reason. They’re a lesson from G-d; he is speaking to you. No human “writer” could bring you to this moment. No one has the power to create this confluence of your mind with this essay, except the One G-d.

Oh, sure, some Lamy fountain pen might be moving across a page of high-grade lined Rhodia paper at this very moment, apparently “composing” an online work for you to read. But can this “composer” really bring these words to your consciousness? Can I truly reach out across the infinite divide, manipulate social media and your schedule, and assure you end up clicking on this link, moving your eyes across the black shapes, and comprehending them?

One is reminded of the silversmith who challenges G-d to remain unimpressed with his abilities. After creating a full silvery replica of a Hazorfim shop and presenting it to his creator, the Deity winks at him and says, “Very good, now do it with your own silver.”

In this world, no one has their own silver. So what you’re reading, here, can come only from G-d. Why would G-d send this to you? To help your serve Him, which is the very purpose of your existence.

Your whole life may have been leading you to this moment, so you can learn from this:

Tangerine. Curses. Osaka. Torsion. Redwoods. Forgiveness.

What are you meant to take from these words? Only you can really know. Perhaps you are learning, right this second, to read fewer things on the Internet. Perhaps you are discovering that no one can tell you what to learn from, Baal Shem Tov notwithstanding. Or perhaps you see significance in my semi-random nouns!

But maybe what you are learning is the very thing I’ve been trying to tell you. The BeSh”T did say that everything you see is a lesson for service. He also said, what is service? To see in everything a lesson.

Maybe the words point at nothing other than themselves. Maybe they are both the lesson and the service. Perhaps you are seeing them in order to see them, and know that in the seeing is G-d, and in the seeing is you. And why not? G-dliness is everything and everything is G-dly.

No one can decide what the lesson is when you read this, just as no one could tell me what the lesson was when I wrote it.

G-d has no partners in creation.

Except you.