In this introductory letter, we will discuss how God’s faith in the world includes faith in humankind, in general. In the next letter, I hope to discuss God’s faith in each of us.
Before we entered the Promised Land, Moshe Rebbeinu – Moses, our Teacher – taught us a prophetic song, and within this song, Moshe describes Hashem as “a God of faith” (Deuteronomy 32:4). Whom does Hashem – the Compassionate and Life-giving One – have faith in? In the ancient midrashic commentary known as the Sifri, the sages give the following answer: “He had faith in the world and created it!”
The human being is part of the world and was also given a central role within the world, for the human being was created in the Divine image with the capacity to emulate the Compassionate and Life-Giving One. This is why the human being was chosen to be the steward of the Divine estate “to serve it and to protect it” (Genesis 2:15). The statement that Hashem had faith in the world therefore includes Hashem’s faith in the potential of the human being to fulfill the compassionate and life-giving Divine mission. Hashem had faith in this potential even though Hashem created the human being with a measure of free will which enables the human being to choose not to fulfill this Divine mission; in fact, the Torah describes how the first human couple failed to fulfill their mission and thereby lost the Garden. As human history began to develop, there were other serious setbacks, however, the Torah describes how the Creator sought to give humankind new opportunities to return to the right path. The Creator later gave a family of spiritual pioneers the responsibility to become a social model for all the families of the earth. In this spirit, the Creator gave the following promise to Jacob, the third patriarch of this family, who was later given the additional name, “Israel”:
All the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring (Genesis 28:14).
As we discussed in this series, a major theme of our Sacred Scriptures is that humankind will eventually return to the compassionate and life-giving path of Hashem through the example of a renewed Israel; moreover, through this return, Israel and all humankind will merit to once again experience the pastoral peace of the Garden of Eden during the messianic age, as it is written:
“It will be in the end of days that the mountain of the Temple of Hashem will be firmly established as the most prominent of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills, and all peoples will stream to it. Many nations will go and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the Mountain of Hashem, to the Temple of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths.’ For from Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem. He (the Messiah) will judge between many peoples, and will settle the arguments of mighty nations from far away. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning knives; nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war anymore. They will sit, each person under his vine and under his fig tree, and none will make them afraid, for the mouth of Hashem, Master of the hosts of creation, has spoken.” (Micah 4:4)
The classical biblical commentators, Radak and Ibn Ezra, explain that the peaceful and pastoral vision of “each person under his vine and under his fig tree” includes all humankind. In addition, all creatures will experience this pastoral peace, as it is recorded in the following Divine promise:
“And a wolf shall live with a lamb, and a leopard shall lie with a kid; and a calf and a lion cub, and a fatling (will walk) together, and a small child will lead them. A cow and a bear will graze and their young will lie down together; and a lion, like cattle will eat hay. A suckling infant will play by a viper’s hole; and a newly weaned child will stretch his hand towards an adder’s lair. They will neither injure nor destroy in all of My sacred mountain, for the earth will be filled with knowledge of Hashem as water covering the sea bed.” (Isaiah 11: 6-9).
Yes, the Compassionate and Life-Giving One has faith in the future of the world. It is therefore relevant to mention the mitzvah – Divine mandate – to emulate the ways of Hashem, as it is written, “And you shall go in His ways” (Deuteronomy 28:9). If Hashem has faith in the future of the world, then we, who are to go in the Divine ways, are to also have faith in the future of the world. This faith was expressed by King David in a number of prophetic psalms. For example, King David proclaimed the following message regarding the world in the messianic age:
“Declare among the nations, ‘Hashem has reigned!’ Indeed, the world is fixed so that it cannot falter. He will judge the peoples with fairness. The heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice, the sea and its fullness will roar; the field and everything in it will exult; then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy – before Hashem, for He will have arrived, He will have arrived to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and peoples with His truth.” (Psalm 96:10-13)
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen