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.

Comments

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: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…