Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of G-d was hovering over the face of the water. And G-d said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And G-d saw the light that it was good, and G-d separated between the light and between the darkness. --Genesis 1:1-4
What is most fascinating to me is that G-d can certainly snap His proverbial fingers and come up with all this cosmic stuff in one synchronous moment. Yet He didn’t. The Torah says “in the beginning of G-d’s creating” to tell us that there was a start to this cosmic process. Hashem began with His own form of cosmic clay. It says, “the earth was tohu vavohu (וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ).” This tohu vavohu represents for us the cosmic clay from which everything was formed. Within it held all potential for the universe, yet it was useless in its primordial state. Hashem creates the order of the universe by following a very deliberate and patient process.
If G-d went to all this trouble to separate light from darkness, water from heaven, seas from land, then why does it seem like the tohu vavohu monster is always on our backs? Why does chaos seem to stalk us and throw parts of our lives back into disorder? If I consider the state of my workshop, desk, the trunk of my car, or my email inbox, I am plagued with the never ending task of battling disorder. We all have that closet in our house where everything gets thrown when we want to forget about it, and the “junk” drawer that contains all the little things we might need someday. This is the tohu vavohu in our lives. We must pull out the light and partner with G-d to create seder/order (סדר) within His creation below.
See the article “order from below” to understand how...