Luminaries and Trees?
Continuing our theme from last time, let us focus on the creation of the luminaries. When describing the creation of the sun and moon, the Torah initially says that God created two great lights. However, the passuk then continues by stating large light would illuminate the day while the small one would be dedicated to night.
The Sages ask the obvious question: What happened to the two big lights? Why does the passuk begin by stating that there were two big lights, but then end off by saying that only the sun is big? The Sages famously explain that the moon was originally created equal to the sun, however, out of arrogance and ego, it asked God how there could be two dominant lights. As punishment, God shrunk the moon, and it became subservient to the sun.
A similar episode occurs with the creation of trees. God states that there shall be fruit trees bearing fruits. The Sages explain this to mean that originally the trees themselves were supposed to taste like their fruits. However, in the actual creation of the trees we find that the trees do not taste like their fruits. The bark of trees tastes nothing like their sweet fruits. What is the meaning of this recurring pattern? Why are so many elements of creation described in one way before being described in a contradictory fashion?
The Moon and the Sun
The moon and the sun model the relationship of an entity and its vessel. The goal of a vessel is to fully and loyally contain and project the essence within it, to serve as the medium of revelation for its inner content. A light bulb does not block the light within, it loyally projects it out into the world. This is the ideal as well for the body in its relationship to the soul: the body must carry the soul and serve as its enabler, allowing the spiritual self to manifest itself correctly into the world. The entire physical world as well should ideally serve as the perfect projection of its spiritual source.
This ideal is modeled in the creation of the sun and moon. While the moon was never equal to the sun in size, it was originally able to fully reflect the light of the sun. The moon ruined this through the sin of ego, a projection of itself that prevented it from properly reflecting the light of the sun. When you assert yourself and your ego, you are unable to reflect anything higher than yourself. As a result, the moon “shrank,” and was no longer able to fully reflect the light of the sun.
This same theme applies to the human body as well. Originally, the body was a clear reflection of the soul. The Sages explain that when you looked at Adam, you did not see his body, you saw his essence, his soul. Much like when you look at a light bulb, all you see is the radiant luminescence. Only if you look really closely can you make out the vessel which contains the light. However, once Adam sinned, the body fell to its present form, a vessel which hides the soul, not one which loyally projects it. Every time we say birchas ha’chodesh – the prayer for the new moon – we daven for mashiach – the redemption, where once again, the moon will fully reflect the sun, where the physical world will fully reflect the spiritual, where the body will fully reflect the soul. As the Ramchal explains (Derech Hashem- 1:3:13), in the times of techiyas ha’meisim – the resurrection of the dead – the body will once again be back in its perfected state, where it can fully reflect all the greatness and light of the neshama- soul.
Trees Tasting Like the Fruits
A fruit represents the end goal, the destination, the result of a process. The tree represents the process, the stage of growth and becoming. The ideal is for the process, the tree, to be as enjoyable and euphoric as the destination itself, the fruit. However, the world was created in a way where people don’t want to go through the process of becoming great, they simply want to be great. This impatience causes so many people to give up on their journey towards greatness.
This theme touches upon something very deep. The world to come is a place of being, a place of endpoint, whereby you enjoy everything you’ve built and become in this world. The consciousness and person you create in this world is what you will enjoy in the world to come. This world, however, is the place of becoming, the place of process, where you create yourself. The goal is to learn how to enjoy the process itself. When you realize that you are creating your eternity, you are able to enjoy the building process as well. This is what it means for the tree to taste like the fruits. The process is just as important as the destination, because you only get to the destination by building your way there. Every part of the process is fundamental, every moment spent right becomes eternal. When you know this, you get to live in Olam Habah- the World to Come, while still in this world! Genuine happiness comes only from enjoying the process of becoming. You’ll never be perfect, but you can always become more perfect. Happiness comes from enjoying the process of becoming your best self, fulfilling your unique purpose in life.
The Process of Life
This is the process of life. The ideal is shown, taken away, and it is then our job to journey through life, trying to recreate that ideal. The key is to be inspired by the goal, not depressed by the struggle. We need to understand that our goal is to become godly, to fully reflect our higher selves, to create oneness, and to enjoy every single step of the process!
Shmuel Reichman is an inspirational speaker and has spoken internationally at shuls, conferences, and Jewish communities. For all questions, thoughts, or bookings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.