Something From Nothing: True Existence or Lack Thereof

I saw this video a few weeks ago, at first I was so moved by the ingenuity, creativity, and resourcefulness to turn rubbish into something so beautiful .  And how such a "simple" idea can have such a profound effect on others lives.  Also as I was watching this I began to think of the Kabalistic concept of Yesh Me-Ayin, or something from nothing.  How our life and sustenance amounts to being created and continuously created from nothing.  Just like taking discarded materials and turning that into a gorgeous symphony.  And as discussed so much in Chasidic Philosophy melody is the language of the soul, and the soul is what drives humanity as well.  Below the video is an excerpt from a book that I think explains the point so beautifully.

When God created the world, what were His raw materials? What did He start with? The answer, of course, is nothing. The world came into being at some point, but before that, it was nothing. God was always Something even before He created the world, and will always be Something with or without a world; but the world, and everything in it, was once nothing.

There’s a joke about a team of scientists who, studying the Book of Genesis, decide they can replicate the creation of man just as it was done the first time by God. They gather up a pile of dirt and hook it up to a big machine by electrodes. The leader of the team opens his Bible and reads, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” As they are about to throw the switch and animate this lump of earth into a living, breathing man, a voice booms out from Heaven, “Hey! Get your own dirt!”

A sample of some of the instruments made from "nothing"

A sample of some of the instruments made from "nothing"

Human creativity is not real creation. As humans, we can change one something into another something. Whether we speak of the artist who turns paint and canvas into a masterpiece, or a builder who turns steel and glass into a skyscraper, we are talking about the manipulation of form, not the creation of new existence. Indeed, the First Law of Thermodynamics is that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed; they can only be changed into different forms.

Yet, if we believe that the universe has a beginning, we must say that God started by taking nothing and making it into something. In so doing, God did not just change the form of nothing. He overrode its very essence. The very definition of “nothing” is that it does not exist. By forcing nothing to be something, God made nothing be the very opposite of what it really is.

Now, when we form one something into another, it usually keeps the shape we put it in. A loaf of bread isn’t going to disassemble itself back into flour and water. A plastic cup isn’t going to revert to petroleum. Why? Because for flour and water to be bread, and for petroleum to be a plastic cup, is no imposition at all upon the essence of flour and water or petroleum. Their essence hasn’t changed, only their form.

When God turned nothing into something, He completely changed its essence. Every moment that nothing exists as a something is unnatural. Indeed, nothing would not even continue to be something unless it’s constantly being forced to do so, which is why we say that creation is necessarily an ongoing process.

At any rate, if you exist, then you are a something. But that’s only because God is creating you that way at this instant. Your essence is to be nothing. Or, should we say, your true and natural state is to have no existence of your own, and to exist only as He exists, within the totality and oneness of God.

If that’s the case, then it explains the mystery of why it can be painful just to exist.

Our somethingness is not our true essence. Oneness is our true essence. Not that it bothers all of us equally. Some people can live with it. Some people can’t.

                                                   - Rabbi Shais Taub:  God of Our Understanding 

Posted on August 26, 2013 .

It's in the Details


The above picture is magnified sand.  Thats right regular sand from the beach, you know the stuff that gets into your bathing suit, and creeps into the floorboards of your car...and NEVER GOES AWAY!!!  The other day I was surfing around the internet and even came across an anti-sand towel, because its just so annoying.  

But, when you look closer at the sand its gorgeous!  There are vibrant colors, beautiful curves and elegant shapes.  Sure on its surface sand is a brownish, gritty irritant, but when we look deeper its a work of art.  In our own lives it is so easy to get irritated, to get bothered, to just see sand.  But as we approach the Jewish New Year, lets look below the surface, lets look at the hidden beauty embedded deep within our everyday lives.  


Remember God is in the details, or maybe even in the nitty gritty


Rabbi Shlom


Posted on August 19, 2013 .

Harnessing Untapped Potential

We sometimes feel as if we are in a desert, barren, a dearth of existence, but if we become innovative and search in unexpected places, it is amazing what is hidden below the surface.  Let's all challenge ourselves in the month leading up to Rosh Hashana to harness and uncover the hidden blessings in our life.  It is through our own toil in which the Universe's blessings become apparent.    

Plus, how amazing is this system to help those in need in Lima, and the surrounding areas.  I'd love to find a way that we as the Oberlin Jewish Community could donate one.  Contact me if you would like to be a part of the project.


Posted on August 6, 2013 .

You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone (rethinking the cup song)

      I know the song is old and everyone has heard it a million times by now, but I just learned of this song a few weeks ago.  Most likely the song was written about lover who was leaving and heading out to the next adventure, but when I heard it the song resonated on an entirely different level.  


A great rendition of the cup song...A must listen!!!

 Yesterday marked five years that my father took his ticket the long way 'round, and passed on from this world to the next.  But here is the funny thing, five years...and I still don't miss him. 

     Why?  Because he isn't gone.

      Sure I can't see his walk...or hear his talk...but it doesn't mean he is gone.  In fact in some ways without the physical limitations I feel as if we walk and talk together everyday.  When I look at my children, I know the ultimate legacy of any grandparent is being lived out.  When I have the opportunity to share something, to reach out and connect with another, when we celebrate family simchas, and when the Chabad House reaches certain milestones, I can feel my fathers hand on my shoulder walking with me.  

  When a loved one moves into the next world, the relationship doesn't cease to exist, just the dynamic changes.  The way we communicate becomes different, but the life, the legacy, and the soul of those we love stay with us for eternity.  If we choose to live with them, if we choose to carry them with us, and we live in a way that honors them, they never go away.

      I saw a quote earlier this week from an elderly woman "When my husband was dying, I said:  Moe how am I supposed to live without you?  He told me take all the love you have for me and spread it around."  What an unbelievable way to carry those with us.  Basically spread the love, share the kindness, and make the world a better place as a way of honoring and living with those who no longer walk among us.  

So I say to whomever wrote "The Cup Song"  its true we may miss them when they are gone...but we don't have to let them leave.


Posted on July 23, 2013 .

God Bless America

God Bless America in English, Yiddish, and Hebrew....Whats not to love :)

Independence Day is a wonderful day to reflect on the essence of true freedom.  The real concept of being free may be freeing ourselves, from OURSELVES.  Sometimes we must release ourselves from our own personal trappings, desires, and ego to truly know what it is to be emancipated.   

Posted on July 4, 2013 .

Its All About Perspective

It is really amazing, something looks like a blob of nothing...then he turns the canvass upside-down.  I can tell you from my own experiences, how many times I get upset, we say oy vey, what a mess!  But, once we look at it from another perspective we see the beauty that really lies beneath.  If we choose to look at it another way we may just see the blessings that are waiting for us, and that G-d has made a beautiful picture just for us (though I'm not saying G. W. Bush is beautiful...haha).

Kinda gives a whole new meaning to turn that frown upside-down.  

Posted on February 17, 2013 .