Stuart Fickler, Ph.D.
Chapter 1 - Why Are We Here?
How often have you heard that question? How often have you asked that question of yourself? Are you aware that the answer is in the very first chapter of the Torah? Genesis 1:27. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them. 28. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
This is the central principle of the entire Torah. Everything else in the Torah is connected to God’s words in Gen. 1:28. I have seen many mission statements in businesses, government and hospitals, but God’s words constitute the best mission statement that I have ever seen.  In one sentence it succinctly states the mission of humankind. It is the “Prime Directive” for humanity. But, like any good mission statement it requires policies, procedures and tactics to make it effective.
To put this in a Torah context let’s look at Rashi’s first comment on the Torah. He begins by raising the following question. In the beginning: Said Rabbi Isaac: It was not necessary to begin the Torah except from “This month is to you,” (Exod. 12:2) which is the first commandment that the Israelites were commanded, (for the main purpose of the Torah is its commandments, and although several commandments are found in Genesis, e.g., circumcision and the prohibition of eating the thigh sinew, they could have been included together with the other commandments). Now for what reason did He commence with “In the beginning?” Because of [the verse] “The strength of His works He related to His people, to give them the inheritance of the nations” (Ps. 111:6). For if the nations of the world should say to Israel, “You are robbers, for you conquered by force the lands of the seven nations [of Canaan],” they will reply, "The entire earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it (this we learn from the story of the Creation) and gave it to whomever He deemed proper When He wished, He gave it to them, and when He wished, He took it away from them and gave it to us.
Similarly, we might ask: Why the Torah doesn’t begin with verses 27 and 28? And following Rashi’s argument, it is because the mission statement must be placed in the context of a world having one Creator that determines the boundaries and limitations of all of God’s creation. In particular, within the context of God’s creation, what is the meaning of “replenish”, “subdue” and “have dominion over”?
Consider an example that might help to put this seemingly abstract idea on a more personal level. You have been seeking a new position and receive an invitation to the office of the CEO of Global Conglomerates, Inc., the largest corporate entity in the world. The CEO tells you that you are now Executive Vice-President of Division A. He then shakes your hand and says, “Congratulations, now get out there and organize it, run it and make a profit.” As he leads you to the door, do you have any questions? He gave you a clear and concise mission statement. What else do you need to know? How about authority, policies, procedures, resources, targets and rewards and conditions of termination?
In the “Cosmic Conglomerate” that is God’s Creation, all of that is contained in the Torah.
With God’s help, to be continued. Next time: “In the Beginning”.
Emet v’chaim.

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