Simhat Torah: Parashat VeZot HaBerakha to Parashat Bereshit
Parashat VeZot HaBerakha marks the end of the written word of HaKadsoh Barukh Hu in the Hamisha Humashai Torah, The Five Books of the Torah HaKedosha. It is the culmination of Benei Yisrael’s experience from their seeds of origin in this world until their gathering as a unified nation, at least 3 million holy neshamot standing at the foot of the mountain as their beloved leader, Moshe Rabbenu departs from them. In a way, the ending of their journey is also their climax. We see what Benei Yisrael have become over their lifetime as a nation. Moshe Rabbenu delineates each Shevet’s acclaim and dons on them myriads of berakhot. Look where they have finally come!
But it all had to start from somewhere. That is why we begin again with Parashat Bereshit; to remind us of where we once began. Two people placed in an otherwise empty world have given rise to 3 million descendants who would bear their name and form. How did they possibly manage such a thing? What power was it that they had? If one thinks about it, this surely is not a simple thing; it would not happen on its own.
When studying the Parasha, one cannot help but to notice that the creation of Adam HaRishon is mentioned twice: once in perek Alef and once more in perek Bet. If we read the words of the Torah, these two men seem to be created completely differently. In perek Alef, this being is created ‘be’selem Elokim’, in the image of HaKadosh Barukh Hu, using the verb ‘va’Yivrah’ which connotates ‘creation’ of a subject. There is also no mention of his body; he is created solely in terms of spiritual G-dliness. In perek Bet, man is ‘formed’ (ve’Yeser) out of the dust of the ground, ‘afar min ha’adamah’, in more physical terms. Wait, I’m confused. Was man created twice? Were two men created? If a second man was created, what need was there for the first one?
Rav Soloveitchik reconciles this seeming contradiction beautifully in his sefer, A Lonely Man of Faith. Rav Soloveitchik explains only one man was created, however, he was created with two facets of his ability; one of creating and one of forming; one where he subdues and one where he submits. The man created in perek Alef is called Adam Alef or ‘Majestic Man’ where he has a passion to create, build and progress; he wants to be just like HaShem, he wants to be a creator. This Man wants to take things into his own hands and to be in control. He is replicating HaShem’s will to create, the will to extend one’s dominion over nature. Perhaps this is why until now, the Torah only uses the name of ‘Elokim’ when referring to HaShem. The name ‘Elokim’ encompasses HaShem’s attribute of justice and ‘worldliness’ so to speak. In perek Alef, man is born to create and manipulate his world.
Only in perek Bet do we see use of HaShem’s name as ‘Yud-K-Vav-K’, this is the attribute of mercy, of the supernatural, the attribute of G-dliness. The man in this perek, Adam Bet, is ‘lonely’ if it were not for the compassion that HaKadosh Barukh Hu has for his children. Man realizes his dependence on a higher authority and is humbled by this. He understands that he merely comes from the dust of the earth. Rav Soloveitchik refers to this man as ‘Covenantal Man’, for if it were not for our relationship with HaShem Yitbarakh, we would not be able to endure in this world. Only through our faith and tefillah, through our complete submission to HaShem, through our devotion can we continue to exist. Sure, we surround ourselves with the materials that we have created, but what do we form them into? Sometimes it is not about being in control and being the one to create. It is about taking what you are given and forming it into the best it can be.
We must understand that it is not enough just to create something and put it into this world, it must be worked on, destroyed and rebuilt, honed and cultivated until it can reach a final product, like the convergence of both Adams, Adam Alef and Bet. It was this inherent realization that Adam and Hava had that enabled them to propel 3 million of Benei Yisrael into the world. This dichotomy of subduing and submitting, the pull between being in control and giving in to authority should give us a balance of both the confidence and the humility that we necessitate in order to progress in this world. This symbiosis will enable us to reach levels higher than what we would have if we only depended on one of these facets. Sometimes to get to the end, we must keep in mind where we once began.
With great Siyata diShemaya, may we all establish this balance between confidence and humility in order to create and form worlds where we can reach our highest potential and only become closer to our ultimate Creator, HaShem Yitbarakh J
Hag Sameah and Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorakh!
Sources: Rav Soloveitchik’s A Lonely Man of Faith, a biur by Rav Ronnie Ziegler and based on Shiurim by Morah Klein