What's the greatest threat facing humanity? War, hunger, climate change, economic volatility, political instability?

While many challenges face our planet, is there possibly a central one that leads to many others?

The Torah has one, and it's probably not a threat you'd expect to be on the 'most wanted list'. But focusing on this problem, acknowledging it, and trying to solve it, can have life-altering effects for the better.

So, just what is this problem, this grave threat?


Why is emptiness so serious?

Everything in life, or at least most things, are empty on their own. Most of existence, from trees to cars to money to food, is but an empty slate, a blank page, waiting to be filled. Nothing is good, and nothing is evil - it's all blank, meaningless, and can be swung to both sides.

If everything is empty, who has the wherewithal to fill this emptiness? Who gets to fill the blank pages, to swing the pendulum towards good or otherwise?

Us, human beings.

G‑d entrusted the key to meaning - both good and evil - exclusively in the hands of the human. It is us who get to decide if something will be good or not, and what type of inner character it'll hold. 

It is for this reason that idol worship is so strictly prohibited by the Torah. After all, what is so bad about a hewn stone, and gold statue, or a wooden figure?  

The problem is not the stone, the gold or the wood. The problem is turning them into a God. If we view them as empty slates, filled with the potential to be used for good, then those materials can do wonders. But if we see those same materials as Gods themselves, then trouble begins. For we then deny those materials the ability to be filled with good, to be used as tools to make the world a better place, and worship them instead.

The same can be applied to everything in life, from trees to cars to money to food. If we see them as empty slates, waiting for us to use them for a good purpose, they fulfill their God-given purpose and help us in our mission to fill the world with goodness and kindness. But if we worship them as Gods on their own, and just try to accumulate more for no higher purpose, they can be harmful. 

This is why emptiness is so serious a 'threat'. Evil itself is not, because it is only in the hand of a human being to transform something from empty to evil. Our mission in life is to make sure that as much emptiness as possible is filled with light. Every smile, every Mitzvah and every kind word, helps fill the emptiness with goodness and makes our world shine.

Rabbi Avrohom