There are six things that one must clarify: Who am I? Where am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Who put me here? Why?
The six letters of the first word of the Torah, “In the beginning” (בראשית), divide into two three-letter words which read, “He created six” (ברא, created, שית, six [in Aramaic]). The root “to create” in Hebrew (ברא) means also “to clarify.” Thus, the Torah’s first word, its first instruction to man (Torah means instruction, each of its words is an instruction to man), can be read, “Clarify six” (the first three-letter word can be read either “He clarified” in the past tense or simply “Clarify” in the imperative). This is the “In the beginning” of our Divine service. The first thing we must do, to best serve our Creator and be productive in life, is to clarify the six fundamental queries stated above.
The complete clarification process takes a whole lifetime, but the kernel ideas, the answers to the six queries, can be stated in short:
Who am I? If you are Jewish, the answer is “I am a Jew.” A Jew is one of God’s chosen people, chosen to bring light to the world. If you are not Jewish, the answer is “I am an intelligent human being.” All humans are created and given the intelligence necessary to do their part in the rectification of reality. In defining the function of a Jew and a non-Jew in the world order we already begin to touch on the last query, why? Cleary, the answer given here is generic. What takes a lifetime is to answer the query for the individual (and so for the following queries).
Where am I? In the lowest of created worlds, the world referred to as “a world of deceit,” a world blind to Divine reality, full of sin and corruption, estranged from God.
Where did I come from? From nothing (the primordial nothing, before creation).
Where am I going? To everything (the World to Come).
Who put me here? The Creator, the one and only God.
Why? In order that I know and unite with Him, by fulfilling His will, in this lowest of worlds. Thus I create a dwelling place for Him below. But why does He need me to know Him and why does He need a dwelling place below? Only God knows.
The astute student of Kabbalah will note that each of these six queries and answers addresses, in particular, one of the supernal sefirot: Who am I? – foundation (יסוד). Where am I? – kingdom (מלכות). Where did I come from? – wisdom (חכמה). Where am I going? – understanding (בינה). Who put me here? – crown (כתר). Why? – knowledge (דעת).