Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Opposites That Divide/Opposites That Unite

You can't have Superman without Lex Luthor.  You can't have Batman without the Joker.  You can't have good without evil.  A poor, misguided Jew once tried to convince me that similarly a supreme being needs us,  a people who need him.  That's not true, of course, and how HaShem is above both good and evil, why He chooses to make Himself known to us principally via His One-ness, and so forth takes up the lion's share of Da'as T'vunos.  None the less, HaShem did create a world that is a balance of opposites.

There are also opposites that complement and complete each other; Ricky needs Lucy.  Male and female are as opposite as you can get, but the oppositeness is a cry for unification.  One has what the other lacks; together they make a whole.  As it turns out, the concept of male-ness and female-ness runs quite deep; much beyond the obvious physical manifestation throughout the plant, animal, and human kingdoms.  The G"ra, in his pirush on  Mishlei, notes that the sitra achra (the dark side of the force, Luke) has male and female dimensions.  One expression of this is that the male dimension is anger, the female dimension is overwhelming desire (aka, taiva),   In general, says the G"ra, the male side presents itself just as it is, while the female side presents itself as your friend and then gets to you from the inside.  Moreover, while the open threat (anger) is a problem, the deceitful threat is actually more dangerous.

Thinking about this further, I realized that this idea has very far reaching implications.  First, consider the positive side corresponding to these.  Corresponding to anger we have the passion of "milchemta shel Torah" -- the war of Torah to get to the absolute truth that is waged constantly in batei medrashim.  Corresponding to taiva we have tznius -- the modesty that is the hallmark of the true bas Yisrael.  This also explains a common prejudice that the world has that Orthodox women are simply passive participants.  (Clearly, they've never met any Orthodox Jewish women...)  The world at large is badly misconstruing the strength of the Jewish woman.  The mida of tznius translates into working behind the scenes; wielding real power and influence, but in private where they can have the greatest effect.

Finally, our two great enemies, Eisav and Yishmael also fall neatly along these lines.  Eisav is "in your face" storm troopers (male dimension), while Yishmael is sneaky suicide bombers (female dimension).  Correspondingly we have two mashiachs, one for each enemy.  Mashiach ben David (from Yehuda) is always out front doing battle and can triumph over all except Eisav.  Defeating Eisav requires mashiach ben Yosef; whose strength lies in drawing out the enemy with a facade of weakness and then attacking when all defenses have been lowered.

To me, this reveals a whole new level of understanding the Jewish marriage.  It is impossible for any individual to triumph as a solo.  Winning the war with the yeitzer hara requires partnering with and trusting someone who is as opposite as can be.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…