In the book of Genesis, the Creator hears the people’s cries that the city of Sodom has fallen into sin and threatens to destroy the city if it is true. He is met with opposition by Abraham, however, who pleads with him, saying that, even if there are only five righteous people left in the city, it is not worth destroying. The Creator hears Abraham’s argument and agrees to spare the city.
This story reveals a strange phenomenon. Most of us see the Creator as an all-powerful being, and as such, we understand that the Creator knows what’s best for us. Yet, it appears here that Abraham actually had influence over the Creator, changing his mind! What is the meaning of this story, and how does it relate to our lives?
In the Zohar, it is stated that we are meant to come to a level of partnership with the Creator. Rav Ashlag further explains in his commentary that the Creator began the process of Creation, but He cannot finish it – it is up to every one of us, on both an individual level and as a collective whole, to complete the process of Creation. In other words, we are actually meant to ascend to a level where we work together with the Creator as partners.
Abraham had committed his life to this partnership with the Creator. When a righteous person reaches this level of true partnership with the Creator, then the Creator can decree something, and the righteous person can say, “No, you can’t do it, God, because I am as much a partner as you!” This is the reason Abraham was able to change the Creator’s mind about destroying Sodom.
We too can achieve this level of partnership with the Creator, and in fact, this concept is a very important understanding for our lives. The more that we see ourselves as partners to the Creator, the more we act as partners, and the more power we have in that partnership.
Imagine that two people start a business together. One person goes to the business every day, manages all of the daily operations, and puts his time and money into the company. The other comes in once a month to check the books but doesn’t really dedicate. Eventually, the first person starts to realize that they are doing all of the work and investing more into the company, and therefore, deserve a bigger percentage of the company. The same is true with our partnership with the Creator. To the exact degree that we are invested in the partnership, that is the degree we have power in that relationship.
So, how can we achieve this level of true partnership with the Creator? We show the Creator that we are partners by the way we live our lives - completely dedicated to our own spiritual growth and the growth of the world. This requires us to transform. The more sharing, giving, and selfless we become, the better partner we are.
The exciting and inspiring idea here is that the Creator actually wants us to be partners. It is up to us, however, to reveal how much of a partner we are. It’s important to understand that this partnership isn’t all or nothing. It isn’t that we are either a 50/50 partner or not a partner at all - it is a constant process we are all going through. As we build our relationship with the Creator and transform ourselves, we become more and more of a partner. To the exact degree that we are a partner, we have that much say. This affects the power and the level of our prayers.
Eventually, a truly righteous person like Abraham achieves a 49/51 partnership - the Creator gives us the extra share. When this happens, we can actually tell the Creator what to do. When we are complete partners, the Creator has to listen to our prayers. If we are committed completely to the partnership, then when we ask, it has to happen. Likewise, when the Creator says something must be, we can say, “No!” just as Abraham did.
We sometimes feel that the Creator has complete control over everything, and that we have no say in the world, but the Zohar teaches us that every single one of us can and is meant to come to this point where we are truly partners to the Creator. The idea of building this partnership shows us what an incredible responsibility we have to transform ourselves and the world.
Adapted from Michael Berg’s Ten Luminous Emanations Lesson 17