Holy Worms

The opening phrase of the Torah, "In the beginning God created…" (1202) = "worms" (תולעים) and "doubts" (ספקות).

There are good worms and bad worms. Amalek is a bad worm, a worm of doubt. King David, on the other hand, is a good worm, as he says of himself, "I am a worm and not a man." And so, the Jewish People is connoted "the worm of Jacob," for although they are as weak as a worm their power is in their mouth – the power of prayer (a worm can bring down a giant cedar tree with its mouth and so can the Jewish People bring down its giant enemies with prayer).

What about doubts? Are there good doubts? A good doubt is to doubt the validity of doubt, to doubt skepticism. To take it a step further, a skeptic doubts the existence of God; but a believer, sure that God exists, doubts his own existence. Not just "to be or not to be" but "I am or am I not."

God commands us to do good deeds because otherwise we would doubt whether we are worthy of taking the initiative. Am I worthy to teach others? I doubt it (if I wouldn't doubt it I would really be in trouble), but the Torah instructs me to share with others whatever knowledge God has blessed me with. And so it is with regard to good deeds in general.

"Worms" in the plural appears only once in the Bible. The Jewish People in the wilderness was commanded not to keep the manna overnight, but to trust in God that it will fall from heaven every morning. However there were skeptics amongst the people who disobeyed and saved the manna for the next day: "Some of them left of it till morning, and it bred worms and stank."

The two root letters of "bred [worms]" (רם, 240), spell backwards "bitter" (מר) = Amalek (עמלק). Thereafter the Torah relates that Amalek appeared to wage war on Israel. The internal doubt and lack of trust in Divine Providence gave rise to the external doubt, Israel's archenemy, Amalek. But Moses defeated Amalek by the power of his mouth, with prayer.

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