The World is Very Good
Rivka Olenick
"The Almighty saw all that He had made and behold, it was very good." Genesis 1:31
God created the world and nothing was lacking. Not only was the world good, it was "very good." V'henay tov m'od. Mankind still has everything that is "very good" in order to be satisfied. One who truly understands the goodness that exists in the world is always satisfied, because God made it "easy" for everyone to thrive in the world. The phenomena of the created world, is incredible and infinitely good. The air, and the water are plentiful. The sun, the wind, and the rain that are needed to make crops grow so that we have food are also plentiful. There are great resources in the earth such as wood, coal, and petroleum that allow industry to grow, which people utilize. The mountains, the oceans, the moon and stars were created for our enjoyment, a gift! The ability that our body can move, and our eyes can see. Shouldn't we view all this as "very good?" What about the ability to hear, speak, and think? Isn't this also "very good?" Do we appreciate what we have only when we see someone else who doesn't have - the ability to walk or hear or see? Don't we take all of this for granted? We do. If we didn't take all this for granted, we would appreciate the continued kindness of the Creator and the awesomeness of the created world. It was all given to us for our enjoyment and benefit and we should continue to see this as "very good." If we lack the appreciation for what is "very good," then we can never be grateful to God. Why shouldn't we be grateful to the One Who created us, Who is perfect and Who's ways are perfect.
Man looks for new ways to claim that what ever he makes he is the creator of, and that he must leave his "mark." We spend endless energy, an entire lifetime figuring out how we can be the "creator" of something exclusively ours. And we think that the world is "not good" until we have made our specific contribution, then the world is "good." Isn't this true? We are willing to put up with an awesome amount of frustration until we fulfill our "dream." "If I could just attain this, I would be satisfied with my life..." However, it's God that is always supplying us with our needs and Who allows us to be satisfied. Don't we have enough of what we really need? Do we "thank God" only when something goes our way? When something works out well for us do we believe it was our own doing? We do. Most of the time we don't even think about God with regard to real gratitude. When things don't work out for us we blame God and say "why me?" We do this because we don't have enough appreciation for what God has already given us, the "very good" that we're able to obtain all the time. We're trapped, by the constant need to look for the next "good." We fool ourselves instead of working on ourselves.
The Jewish people have a very specific purpose in the world, as the teachers of Torah, the example that the rest of the world needs to observe. The way we should be observed by non-Jews is through the commandments, and through Torah study and by encouraging and helping others to pursue knowledge and truth. As it says, "ki hi chachmaschem u'vinaschem b'aynay haamim", "For it (Torah wisdom) is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the peoples." We are so fortunate that God has allowed the Mesora to continue, and that too is "very good." Many great Torah scholars emerged because they were focused on the "very good." They used all their intellectual resources to be involved in thought and understood clearly that a person's true happiness is really and only in a person's mind.
We should do everything possible to break free from the false ideas of what we think is "very good" and try to have a greater appreciation for what already exists and is "very good." By living a simpler life that is more in line with our true purpose. Be grateful for what you already have, not what you are missing. If you do this you'll see that you have so much - more than you realize. Write a list of all the things you have overlooked appreciating and you will realize how selfish you have been in this area. You will immediately see that everything you already have is "very good" and now is the time to pursue the "very good" that is called knowledge!"
"He considered each in its connection with the whole, v'henay tov m'od. Good, there too where we should not have expected it, where looked at separately by one who does not see the whole, it would appear imperfect. Thus everything created everything in existence, looked at in connection with everything else, is "very good."
From Horeb, Samson Raphael Hirsch.
"Remember what I said in this chapter and consider it, and you will understand all that the Prophets and our Sages remarked about the perfect goodness of all the direct works of God." From the Rambam, Guide for the Perplexed page 267, Chapter 10.

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