What is the greatest quality for a person to cleave to? …Rabbi Shimon said, one who sees that which is born…
Ethics Of The Fathers 2:10
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, taught the doctrine of “Perpetual Creation.” G-d’s creation of the universe, commonly perceived as a one-time event, is a continual act on His part. In each and every fraction of time the world is born anew out of a state of absolute nothingness as the Creator again imparts life and being to every existence.
This is the deeper meaning implicit in Rabbi Shimon’s praise of “one who sees that which is born.” On the most basic level, this refers to need for a person to consider the consequences of his actions, to look beyond the here and now to what his present choices will give birth to. On a deeper level, Rabbi Shimon is saying: Behold the world’s perpetual birth out of utter nothingness. Do not perceive the universe as an existence in its own right – understand that in essence it is nothing, that this seemingly formidable reality of a moment ago is now not and must again be brought into being by the Creator. What is “real” is only the Divine will to create.
The implications of this view of reality are manifold. Often, the “reality” of our world may appear to preclude one’s fulfillment of G-d’s will: “realistically” one may see no way of earning a living unless one works on Shabbat; “realistically” one’s efforts to positively influence one’s fellow stand no chance of success. But one who sees the world born anew every fraction of time by an act of Divine creation, understands, in the most vivid and absolute manner possible, that “reality” can never be inconsistent with the Divine will. It is not even a question of the Divine will being more “powerful” than reality – reality is nothing but the fact of G-d’s will to create it, as it is, in the present micro-moment.
From an address by the Rebbe
This is an excerpt from “Beyond the Letter of the Law” by Yanki Tauber published by The Meaningful Life Center.