Two Sides of a Coin: On Parshat Bereshit
There’s a popular saying that there are “two sides to the same coin.” In last week’s Torah reading, we witnessed the creation of the world. Throughout the פרשה, we witnessed a lot of “two-sided coins.”
We see so much duality in this פרשה: the creation of light and darkness, day and night, the heavens and the earth, and finally, woman and man: Adam and Chava. The first letter of the parsha is the Hebrew “בית,” the second letter of the alphabet. The number “2” and the concept of duality seems to be a reigning theme throughout. The fact that the last book of the Chumash is a repetition of the story of the Jews’ wanderings in the desert, and that a lot of the stories in the Torah are retold in a slightly different manner speak to this point as well.
By creating the world, Hashem is building a “house” for himself “below.” He’s employing the attribute of חסד: random kindness in shaping us and our surroundings. Fact is, He didn’t have to create the world. Hashem is beyond time and space. He’s infinite and therefore, world or no world, He’d still be there. Once again, we see the concept of “duality” at play. Once the world has been created, Hashem dwells in both the Heavens and the Earth.
This pertains to the religious Zionist concept of balancing Torah study and work as defined by Rav Kook (ז”צל). In his monumental אורות התשובה, the Rabbi identifies the need for a life that includes these two elements. As it says in Pirkei Avot (Wisdom of the Fathers), “עם אין תורה, אין קמח,עם אין קמח,אין תורה:” “If there’s no Torah, there’s no flour, If there’s no flour, there’s no Torah,” i.e. There’s no work without Torah study and vise versa.
We have to work hard to accomplish our goals. But religious Zionism cannot exist with Torah. I’ve written before criticizing my own path for the lack of modesty we, religious Zionists, imbue (that’s just one place we’ve failed big). We, Jews, cannot maintain a presence in the Holy Land, the land “Hashem has His eyes on from the beginning to the end of the year,” if we don’t continue upon the path of our holy forefathers. I believe the Haredi path is inherently flawed as well. It doesn’t make enough of an emphasis on hard work. Hard work is what makes us human; it’s what allows us to fulfill our mission in life.
As a people, the key thing for us is unity. We must learn from last week’s parsha. The concept of “duality” applies here as well. We must combine the two ways of life: the Haredi and religious Zionist. We must learn to benefit from the “best of both worlds:” the worlds of Torah study and hard work.
May we merit a life of Torah and flour: of learning from our holy forefathers and of working hard to get to where we were meant to end up. שבוע טוב from Jerusalem, Israel!