Weekly Articles

Tohu Vavohu
October 15th, 2020
Tohu Vavohu

Now the Awesome Days have come to an end; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres. I was emotional when I left the sukkah. I did not want to say farewell to the Holy Guests who had come to elevate us by their presence. 

We are going to have to try to bring the kedusha of Yom Tov, this exalted level of existence, into our lives. And this week the Torah helps us, as we read the awesome account of the Creation of the Universe. “Beraishis … In the beginning.” The Torah tells us the origin of everything. 

We can begin again. And we can try to learn from the past. This time we must succeed. This time we have to learn from the mistakes of previous generations. 

“And the earth was ‘tohu vavohu,’ with darkness upon the surface of the deep…” 

These words describe the universe before Hashem organized it into the myriad individual forms of animal, vegetable and mineral life which comprise the world as we know it. “Tohu vavohu” was apparently a confused mass of combined matter which exhibited no form, order or individual distinctive qualities. It seems that Hashem created this raw conglomeration, then separated it into all the components of the heavens and the earth. Perhaps this is a lesson for us, who need to mold the disorganized parts of our personality into a cohesive whole which exudes blessing.

The Torah tells us that “Hashem saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good!” (Beraishis 1:31) “Tohu vavohu” was the beginning, not the end. Hashem made order out of confusion. 

In my book “Worldstorm” (Israel Bookshop, 2003) I suggest the following: mankind, since the days of Adam and Eve, has consistently rebelled against its Creator. As a result of this rebellion, mankind has destroyed much of what Hashem created. Look at the world today, polluted and poisoned. Hashem made a harmonious world; mankind’s world is at war with itself and with its Creator. 

Specifically, I suggest in the book that, in each thousand years of history, mankind has attempted to undo one day of Creation. In the first thousand years of history, mankind tried to undo what Hashem did on the sixth day, and so on with each thousand years of history. Now we have reached the year 5781. We are almost at the year 6000, which means that mankind, in its rebellion, has pushed back almost to the beginning. So now, we are very close to the condition of the universe at its Creation. 

And what was that condition? “Tohu vavohu … chaos!”

“Examine, please, the events of our millennium, and you will see that we are now in the final stages of destroying the beautiful world that Hashem created in six days.” (World-storm, Page 239) We have pushed creation backwards almost to the point of “tohu vavohu,” formless, seething chaos. 

If you look at today’s world, you will see it. 

What country, what culture is not falling apart? What value system is not falling apart?  Mankind is split into warring groups, each one against the other. Not only that, but we have the technological ability to blow the entire world apart, G-d forbid. Hashem created perfect harmony, but we have chosen to fight G-d and try to undo His work. It seems that we are heading inexorably toward a state of chaos in which all individuals and systems are crushed together in a formless glob. This is clearly not what Hashem desires, and it means the end of history as we know it. 

But we must remember: “Beraishis” is the beginning and not the end. 

Hashem built His world from tohu vavohu. This is our opportunity to let go of the empty culture which has ruled mankind ever since the Destruction of our Holy Temple in Yerushalayim. This is like “mem tes shaarei tumah,” our descent to the lowest level of impurity in Biblical Egypt. From there we reached the highest! 

“In Egypt, Am Yisroel was on the lowest level possible. They worshipped idols and they had sunk to the forty ninth level of tumah. They did not have the merit to be redeemed [but in fact they were redeemed … why?] only because they were destined to receive the Torah!” (Rabbi Yaakov Galinsky on Yom Kippur & Sukkos, page 328)

King David says, “You (Hashem) reduce man to pulp and You say, ‘Repent, Oh sons of man!’” (Tehillim 90) King David also says, “When the wicked bloom like grass and all the doers of iniquity blossom, it is to destroy them until eternity.” (Tehillim 92)

My friends, although it appears that world culture is plummeting toward oblivion, Hashem is about to build a new world, just as He built a new world at the dawn of history, and just as He built a new world after He took His Children out of Mitzraim

Tohu vavohu is not an end; tohu vavohu is a beginning! A great light is about to burst forth. If we hold on tightly to the rope of Torah which Hashem has lowered into this world, we can survive tohu vavohu and see with our own eyes the Dawn of the Age of Moshiach.

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