A Homemade Midrash
By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF
It was the oldest of Midrashim. In fact it was the first Midrash – whether you believe they came from the Presence who spoke atop Sinai – or, depending on your beliefs, who later inspired Holy men to reveal them to the people. It concerned the human heart and the contents thereof.
The Lord had called together all the angels to insure unanimity before he turned the dust of Adam to flesh. His proposal to the assembly of divine creatures was to fill the empty heart of his beloved creature with a lot of love but also some dose of evil – a little selfishness.
Quite necessary, said the Almighty, to preserve the species. The animals leaped and frolicked with joy to hear that they would have some freedom of will. Did he not do the same to the wolf, the leopard and even the spider? Even the birds and the beasts of the fields were included. The mighty mind of G-d, to which time was transparent, saw the future and the need for survival. But man must sooth his savage heart before he could find comfort in civilization. Aggression was necessary for the journey, but not the destination.
They could not eventually be all-giving humanity or else they would perish like the morning mist on the lakes. Besides, humanity must have a purpose. And man’s purpose must be Tikkun Olam – the perfection of G-d’s world: which includes the cleansing of man’s heart – the purification of the heart – once the species was assured of survival.
The other creatures may keep their barbarism. They still need it to survive but the human class – once civilized – must tame their instincts. After all they were made in the “image of G-d” and G-d shunned evil, so said the band of Angels.
The heavenly host roared that man is like G-d. He must be perfect like him.
NO!, replied the Divine voice. Man must first conquer his mammalian instincts.
Is that not within the meaning of Tikkun Olam? Or in English – the equivalent of civilization? Scientists equate it with evolution – we call it Tikkun Olam – the perfection of G-d’s raggedy edged world. That’s our job. And shedding our primitive past is crucial – a major part of our Tikkun Olam assignment.
Why else are we here? To answer an age-old question. What more majestic answer can there be to the question of why we are here? In short, man’s mission was to cleanse his purposely imperfect heart.
He will need it at first to deal with other creatures and the threat of starvation. Remember aggression, selfishness, and even some evil is necessary for yesterday’s evolution, but not for the bright destination.