Wake Up!

Rabbi Eliyahu YaakovWaking up to a new day has its set of challenges. For some it's the memory of yesterday. For others it's the dread of today. For some it's the rut. And for others, it's just plain getting out of bed.

Similarly, we oftentimes find ourselves sleeping our way through life. We don't know if we're coming or if we're going. We feel acted upon by our surroundings—our bosses, our parents, and all the other manipulating forces that ought to be in the background.

This personal sleep can start with a perceived bad day, event, or decision, and we end up sleeping our way through years. Every Rosh Hashanah we have a macro wakeup call from our slumber that we refer to as the call of the shofar. The shofar, the ram's horn blown by Jews to provide a spiritual wakeup call, delivers us the same message as our alarm clock does daily: get up and do something with your life.

(The Jewish approach to this can be seen in the Hebrew word for sleeping—shayna. This word is made up of the same root letters as the word for change, the word for repeat, and the word for year, hinting to the idea that at the beginning of every year we each have the choice to repeat the sleeping away of the previous year or to hear the call of the shofar and make a change.)

The next question of course becomes, what then should I do with my life? What is life all about?

Our answer to this question of life's meaning can be summed up in two misunderstood words: Divine Service.

Let's try and build a deeper approach to this unappealing phrase.

From Nothing, Nothing Comes
If we were to have a look at anything in our world, whether viewable by the naked eye or via a microscope, you would not need a scientist to figure out that it had to have had something that created it. This is because anything in the finite is, by its nature, limited within time and space, and therefore requires something else to have brought it into existence. If we were to take this chain of cause-and-effect all the way back, we would have to conclude that there is no rational alternative other than the fact that at the beginning of this process exists an entity that does not operate under the limitations of this finite arena and is responsible for bringing the finite—time and space—into existence in the first place. This is what we refer to as the Infinite and what we call God.

(Many people, when they hear the word "Infinite" think of a blob that expands endlessly. Let us be clear that by "Infinite" we do not mean "endless." "Endless" implies something within the bounds of time and space that just goes on. However, what we mean by "Infinite" is that which is beyond the dimensions of time and space altogether.)

It follows, that the Infinite, not being limited to dimensions of time and space, is not only the creator of all there is, but is in essence all there is. After all, any other suggestion would be limiting the illimitable.

This leaves us with three questions that we will delve into in the coming articles:

  1. If the Infinite is beyond all limits, doesn't that imply that He should be able to limit Himself if He chooses? After all, if He "can't" limit Himself, is that not in itself a limitation?
  2. If the Infinite is all there is, then what am I?
  3. How can I talk about doing a Divine Service, a service for One who is beyond all limits? What possible service can I offer the Infinite?