“Hold your partner’s hand; don’t let go!” were the stern, ringing instructions of our kindergarten teacher whenever we left school for any kind of outing. I had entered school with the little child’s notion that life revolved around me and my needs, but was quickly discovering that it was about being faithful to your partner.

“Everything I needed to know about life I learned in kindergarten,” the saying goes. True to the axiom, my life was framed and defined by partnerships of all kinds ever since I held dutifully and tightly to my school partner’s hand.

I Everything I needed to know about life I learned in kindergartenlearned this concept in a very real way when my parents entered into a business partnership with a cousin. My parents’ partnership literally framed my childhood: the partner lived on the floor above us; the restaurant business was below us. All decisions had to be made together with the partner: who would open the store early in the morning or close it and clean up late in the evening, when my mother would need to work and when she had time off to tend the family, and so on. I learned early on that consideration and respect allow for success.

And when, through G‑d’s grace, I found my life’s partner, that kindergarten lesson stood me in good stead: Hold on to your partner! Like mountain climbers, we scaled the peaks of life as a pair. Mountain climbers tie themselves to each other with a rope, and they never untie that rope. They have to be very skilled and precise: if the length of the rope between them is too long, it may become frayed or ripped; neither can it be too short, or the two climbers will trip over each other, with disastrous repercussions. So, too, I knew to stick close to my partner, yet give him the room he needed to climb on his own.

When G‑d prepared to create Adam, He said, “Let us make man.” Who was the other partner?

G‑d was You will be responsible to make choicestelling man: “Let us ‘make’ man together. You will be responsible to make choices, reflect, plan, sacrifice your desires, and aspire to grow and improve yourself.” A man must become a mentch: he must strive to elevate himself above the self-gratifying drives of an animal. G‑d did not create man as a finished product, because His plan was that man should transform himself through his own efforts. We are dynamic partners with G‑d in making this world a G‑dly place through the Torah, our detailed partnership contract.

In our Friday night kiddush we say asher bara Elokim la’asot.” G‑d created this world “to do.” The Midrash explains that the word la’asot means “to perfect.” G‑d has created this imperfect world, and He asks us—and empowers us—to be His ultimate partner in making our world a better place.