Dear Readers,

After living for many years in a small, old house, my friend’s financial situation improved, and so she’s building a new home.

Being a detail-oriented individual, she pored over architectural plans and finally customized a design to meet her family’s needs. Consulting with professionals along the way, she has been involved with every decision—from the choice of colors to the location of the structural beams.

She has envisioned the placement of her furniture to ensure that each electrical outlet is in the most convenient location. She has mapped out every HVAC register to accommodate her window coverings and make certain that her couches will not block the registers for maximum efficiency.

She has thought long and hard about every room. And yet, no matter how scrupulous her plans, no human being is perfect; blunders are inevitable. But her meticulous planning will guarantee that her family will have a beautiful and functional home that accommodates their needs, schedules and lifestyle.

G‑d, on the other hand, is perfect and infinite, and knows every scenario and situation. When G‑d created our world, He intended for us to be His partner in making it into a home where G‑dliness is palpable. And so, when designing our world, G‑d “looked into the Torah” and used it as His blueprint to warrant that our world’s “design” would accommodate all parts of the Torah (Midrash Rabba).

This week, we celebrate the Chassidic holiday of the 12th of Tammuz, when the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe was freed from prison in the Soviet Union, where he was charged with teaching and spreading the light of Torah. Right at the outset, the Rebbe took the stance that while the Soviet authorities imprisoned his physical body, they could not touch his spiritual self.

When his tormentor waved his gun before him and threatened that “this toy has the power of making many a man talk and divulge secrets,” the Rebbe famously responded: “That toy can affect someone who believes in many gods and one world. But that toy has no power over someone who believes in one G‑d and two worlds.”

At times, when we study Torah, we may think that these are beautiful ideals, but they don’t “fit”—or are unrealistic—for our imperfect world. We’ve got to cheat or lie, every so often, to succeed in business. We must gossip occasionally to become popular in our social circles. We can’t possibly be expected to scrupulously observe every detailed law of Shabbat or kashrut. Surely, we’ve got to bend some of the rules in order to function in our world!

But if G‑d “looked into the Torah and created the world,” this means that nothing in our physical world can interfere or “block” the Torah and its commandments. Though often a situation may appear to be antithetical to Divine will, this is merely a façade, providing us with a challenge and opportunity to overcome—and be G‑d’s partner in creation.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW