As the Torah Turns
Rabbi Lader’s Weekly D’var Torah
Bereishit – Gen. 1:1-6:8 (Oct. 16/17)
Our yearly Torah reading cycle begins again this week, as we roll the scroll to the very beginning – Bereishit – Gen. 1:1-6:8. In Gen. 1:27 we read: Be’tzelem Elohim bara oto; zachar un’keivah bara otam – In the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. In his commentary on this verse, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik* asks what it means that being made in the image of God is directly followed by man being created as two sexes, and suggests that male and female are to be taken not only in the physiological sense but also in the spiritual/metaphysical sense as well. What is this “spiritual/metaphysical sense”? Every soul consists of both a male and female persona – a spiritual androgyny. The combination of these elements can be found in each individual: the dynamic and the active… and the affected and the passive. Each of us both influences and is influenced; we are both a giver and a receiver. Only through the development of both attributes can we attain our full spiritual potential. Soloveitchik offers the example of a teacher and students. As the teacher teaches, he (or she) is the giver, while the students receive. At one point in the lesson, however, a perceptive student may ask a particularly incisive question that leads the thoughts of the teacher in new directions. At this point, the student becomes the giver, and the teacher becomes the receiver. The roles are not fixed. Teachers can inform… and be informed. Students can be informed… and can inform… We are blessed as physical beings; and we are also blessed spiritually. When we actualize our blessing of being a receiver, we open ourselves to absorb spiritual wealth and beauty. When we actualize our blessing of being a giver, we use our spiritual energies to give to others. We cannot do this by ourselves. We are dependent upon each other in order to develop our best selves. I invite you to consider times in your life when you have been a giver… and a receiver… and how you might continue to develop those attributes in the future… *Soloveitchik is considered the outstanding figure of modern Orthodox Judaism in 20th century America, synthesizing Orthodoxy and modernity, and seen by some to have explicated Judaism in terms of universal philosophical and religious ideas.
From Previous Weeks
The Torah reading for Sukkot is Lev. 22:26-23:44, and includes the “fixed times of the Eternal, which you shall proclaim…
In his comments on this Torah portion, Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb reminds us about the importance of listening…
Even closer to the final chapters of Torah
Miraculous garments belong to us all.