In the immediate afterglow of Sukkos and Simchas Torah, following nearly a month of intense alone time with God, we find ourselves propelled from our momentous high headfirst into the mundane. As we take leave of this time of intimacy with God - this period during which we reaffirmed His sovereignty and control over the world and our lives, cleansed ourselves of every blemish, tore down the walls between us, and spent eight days celebrating our relationship, leaving behind the comfort of our homes, setting aside our work, our routine, leaving behind everything in pursuit of spending time with Him - we wonder: how can we go from the heights of closeness to the routine humdrum of a world after the Chagim?
The answer, of course, is Bereishis.
Rashi (1:1) notes that the phrase “Bereishis Bara” tells us that God made this world for Klal Yisrael, and for the Torah that links us to Him, both of which are referred to as “Reishis.” When we go back to Bereishis, we realize that no matter how mundane, no matter how empty of overt connection, celebration, or tradition our lives appear to be, God created this world for us. Every flower, every tree, every particle of matter is for us. That alone allows us to feel uplifted, to recognize that it is not just about the fanfare. God loves us in the quiet moments, too, and fills the natural world with means for connection accessible on any given day.
But that is not all.
In describing the creation of man, the Pasuk in Bereishis (2:7) says, “VaYitzar Hashem… es Ha’Adam… VaYipach B’apav Nishmas Chaim,” and God created man, and He blew into him the soul of life. When God created man, He instilled within him a soul, that elevated, lofty, spiritual piece of us that separates us from every other living thing. The Pasuk in Mishlei (20:27) says, “ki ner Hashem nishmas adam,” the flame of God is the Soul of man. When God made man, He blew a part of Himself into us. When God created the world, He created it with us in mind. And when He created us, He did so with our relationship with Him in mind; wherever we go, whatever we are doing, we constantly carry a piece of God inside of us.
Many theories of human development note the importance of how infants and young children develop internal representations of our earliest relationships that we carry with us throughout our lives. When a child is securely attached to his parents and internalizes them as nurturing, loving, and safe, he can, as he grows, begin to separate, to venture out on his own, carrying within him the wisdom, love, guidance, and emotional support of those caretakers, even from a distance. We go through the majority of our lives independently, away from that cocoon, and yet when we have internalized a feeling of being valued and worthwhile, we can feel safe, secure, and loved, even when we are alone.
This is the Neshama, the soul, the piece of God that we carry within us at all times. It is what helps us feel loved, secure, and spiritually connected even when we don’t have holidays to celebrate, even when life is just “real world” life. God purposely created us with a piece of Himself within us, so that no matter where we are or how far we feel we have strayed, He is never far.
Our relationship with God develops in stages and is maintained through both internal and external means. Rosh Hashana was our engagement, our agreement that we belong to each other, and that our relationship with God will shape our life decisions. The wedding, one of the most exultant and important days of a person’s life, when nothing separates the couple from each other, and all past mistakes or misunderstandings are lost, forgotten, erased – was Yom Kippur. And after the wedding, we spend Sheva Brachos in endless celebration, basking in each other, setting aside all work, all obligations, everything but our relationship. This, of course, was Sukkos and Simchas Torah.
But even in the mundane, in the rote routine to which a couple returns after the wedding, in the “real life” they begin to lead together, they carry an internal representation of the relationship. Perhaps it is the feeling of being connected to another, or the thoughts they now give to what the other person likes or wants or dislikes or needs. And they carry external reminders, as well: ring on a finger, a picture framed on a desk at work, or set as the background on a phone.
Lihavdil, as we leave behind the intimacy of “ani lidodi v’dodi li,” of “shivti b’veis Hashem kol yimei chayai,” we return to Bereishis. We read about the manner in which God created every last blade of grass for our benefit, and are reminded of the way in which we are intrinsically attached to Him through our Soul. We start at the beginning of the story of our relationship with God, reveling in the tale like a couple receiving the proofs from their wedding, or the link to their Vimeo, a few weeks after the last rose petals have wilted and the feeling of euphoria is beginning to fade. Whether we think about our relationship with God as that of a parent and child, or husband and wife, whether we connect to Him internally through our God-given soul, or externally, through His made-for-man world - what matters most is that we understand His desire to be connected to us, and for us to be connected to Him, to be with Him in this beautiful world that He created for us.