Man was created by G-d for a spiritual purpose, and he is called upon to endow his entire life with the attitude that every deed, every morsel, and every thought must be directed toward that purpose. Obviously the task is not simple…
The elements of the universe were all created on the first day, the rest of the six days of creation consisted of clarifying, separating, and forming (Ramban). The rest of history consists of man taking the universe with which he was presented and further developing it. Whatever happened, is happening, and will happen until the final redemption at the End of Days, is a continuing outgrowth of the first moments of confusion when everything existed and nothing was formed, when all was a mixture of elements…
So, too, is man. He is a confusion of forces that can ascend to the heavens if they are defined, nurtured and purified. The potential of the universe is infinite; so is that of man, the miniature universe. As (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto) makes plain, the keys to this goal of purity are wisdom and reverence; wisdom to recognize and reverence to direct. Because "the beginning of wisdom is (reverence for) the fear of G-d" (Psalms 111:10).
Without fear of G-d, humanity is (capable of) the mental gymnastics that turn values into grotesque caricatures of truth and decency. With reverence, however, wisdom can function as the tool that fashions material man into a fountain of purity.
printed in Arachim newsletter about 20 years ago from Artscroll by Rabbi Nosson Scherman