As we once again start at the beginning of the Torah, some of my favorite pieces of midrash (rabbinic stories) emerge from our tradition.
A gem from Genesis Rabbah:
God’s creation of heaven and earth can be compared to the following:
A parable of a king who had cups made of delicate glass.
The king said: If I pour hot water into them, they will expand and burst; if cold water, they will contract and break. What did he do? He mixed cold and hot water, and poured them in, and so they remained unbroken. Likewise, the Holy One said: If I create the world with the attribute of mercy alone, its sins will be too many; if with justice alone, how could the world be expected to endure? So I will create it with both justice and mercy, and may it endure!
How refreshing to hear that the world’s Creator painted this masterpiece with varied shades of understanding and nuance. We aren’t meant to live within the confines of black and white. To have such a stark contrast is recipe for disaster. Rather, we must learn to see the world in thousands of colors, infinite possibilities, deliciously ripe with justice, mercy, compassion, fairness, integrity and tolerance.
What a beautiful lesson for those of us that strive to teach every day. Whether we are instructors in our professions or teachers in our homes, it is a reminder that we are constantly God’s partner in the recreating of this world. May our hands and our hearts model our Creator’s: shaping a world in which human beings simultaneously pursue righteousness and offer love.