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Posted on October 26, 2017 (5778) By Rabbi Yisroel Roll | Series: | Level:

Rav Yosef B. Soloveitchik describes the two options of loneliness and aloneness,[1] as follows:

The Torah begins with a description of the creation of man:

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. Breishis 1:27

In this account, we note that:  1.  Adam is created male and female; 2. nothing is said about the body of Adam; 3. The name Elokim alone is used; 4. Adam’s mandate is וּמִלְאוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, וְכִבְשֻׁהָ; replenish the earth, and subdue it. Breishis 1:28

This Adam, who we will call Adam I, is given the task of using his Godly intellect to master, and to understand the science of the world. To do this, man needs to discover his own identity and dignity, and to find his place in the world, as King David states:  Yet You have made him but little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Tehillim 8:6

When man realizes that there is a hierarchy in creation: inanimate, plant, animal and the one who speaks [2]—he becomes aware that he is the crown of creation. That is why the account of Adam I does not include a description of his body, for he is an intellectual soul, seeking to use his intellect to achieve his task, namely, וְכִבְשֻׁהָ to subdue, and manipulate the environment through his collective technological and creative genius, in order to  survive, and to create  a successful world in which to live.

Faced with a complex world, Adam is born with an inbuilt partner—for he was created “male and female He created them.” Adam I feels helpless in the cosmos and he turns to his partner, his wife, to work with him to conquer and subdue the world in a technological division of labor. He seeks “coherence, legitimacy and reasonableness.”[3] For this task, God gave Adam I a functional partner with whom to collaborate on his projects and schemes. This is how Adam I can וְכִבְשֻׁהָ, subdue and master his environment. Chava-Eve, is his companion to pursue common objectives. On this level, Adam I is not lonely.

Lets us go deeper. Adam I is not lonely because he has a male and female dimension within his own self. “Male and female, He created them” means that man has within his own psyche, a male dimension, as a mashpia–—giving, producing, influencing; and he has a female dimension as a mekabel—receiving, integrating, building. The male dimension in man conceives of an idea or project and the female dimension within man turns the concept into a practical reality. The male dimension is the architect and the female dimension is the building contractor. They are functional and utilitarian partners, and yet, there is something missing.

While Adam I is busy conquering the world, he is missing the direction and purpose of that great endeavor. When he gets to the top of the mountain, when he builds his mansion, when he reaches the moon, he stops, looks around and asks, rhetorically, “Is this it? Why am I not satisfied? Now what?”

What man needs is an ultimate purpose, and that can only be provided through a relationship with God. The trek up the mountain, the building of a mansion and the journey to the moon,  satisfy man when he uses these endeavors in service of God’s plan. This can only be achieved through understanding God’s mind by learning His Torah and by relating to Him through performing His mitzvos. The mountain he climbs must be Mount Sinai. The mansion he builds must be a house of Torah. The journey to the moon must be the hischadshus-renewal, he feels when he witnesses the new moon, on Rosh Chodesh.

The dimension of Torah that gives man a sense of purpose is the study, appreciation and experience of Shabbos, which is tachlis maaseh Breishis.[4] We work six days toward a goal, a destiny, called Shabbos. Similarly, man is inspired when he studies and lives  the mitzvos called Edos—symbolic mitzvos, which elevate our mundane activities toward a meaningful connection with Jewish history and personal growth. [5] This dimension of Torah gives Adam I, a sense of direction, meaning and destiny. He transforms his Adam I emptiness by harnessing and channeling his existential aloneness in service of God’s Aloneness, by making a contribution to God’s Ultimate Purpose and Plan for the Universe.

Now enter Adam II. In the second chapter of Breishis there is a different account of how Adam was created:

Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Breishis 2:7

In this account, we note:  1. Adam is created alone, and Chava is created afterwards, as his helpmate; 2. Adam’s body is created from the dust of the ground; 3. The name Hashem Elokim is used; 4. Adams’ mandate is לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ to work it and to protect it. Breishis 2:15

Rav Soloveitchik calls this being, Adam II. The fact that in the account of Adam II, the Adam being has a male dimension, and then later a female dimension, who join together as one,  speaks to the social dimension of man—man who seeks redemption from his loneliness, through a relationship with woman. Adam II seeks companionship through shared experiences, communication, and emotional connection. Adam II, because he was created alone, is plagued by loneliness and seeks partnership.  Adam I, since he was created together with woman, (male and female He created them) is never lonely.

Adam II is aware of his existential loneliness and seeks redemption. The redemption sought by Adam II is internal, in the depth of his soul. He seeks a consciousness that his existence is worthwhile, and anchored in a connection to something eternal.  Adam I seeks meaning through exercising control over his environment, Adam II can only find meaning by exercising control over himself.[6]

Adam II also cannot achieve his goal alone. He needs a spiritual  partner in order to achieve his task which is לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ–to work it and to protect it, by serving a higher cause. Adam II was created out of the dust of the ground because humility is the pathway to his redemption. In this endeavor, his partnership is not only with Chava, but since God brought  Chava to him, it is a covenant with God, as well. In this partnership we have three parties, Adam, Chava and God.

In his relationship with God, Adam II has an “ever-growing tragic awareness of his aloneness and his onlyness, and consequently of his  loneliness and insecurity.[7] Adam II is aware of his existential humanity, and he humbly cries out:  Out of the depths have I called You, O LORD.  Tehillim 130:1

While Adam I acts, Adam II, “is”.  “To be,” is a unique in-depth experience of which only Adam II is aware. “Being” means an awareness that he is the only one, singular and different, and consequently lonely. For what causes man to feel lonely and insecure if not the awareness of his uniqueness and exclusiveness? The “I” is lonely, experiencing ontological incompleteness, because there is no-one who exists like the “I,”…tormented by loneliness and solitude.[8]  Adam II can then find solace in his loneliness by relating to God through the dimension of Torah called emunah and bitachon. He does this by working in the six constant mitzvos, as discussed in the Shulchan Aruch,[9] as follows:

  • Know there is a God. I am Hashem your God who brought you out of Egypt. (Shmos 20:2)
  • Don’t believe in other gods. Do not recognize any other “gods” in My presence. (Shmos 20:3)
  • God is one. Listen, Israel, Hashem is our God, Hashem is One. (Devarim 6:4)
  • Love God. You shall love Hashem your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your ability. (Devarim 6:5)
  • Fear God. You must revere Hashem your God; Him you shall serve. (Devarim 10:20)
  • Don’t be misled by your heart and eyes. Don’t follow your heart or your eyes, after which one can go astray. (Bamidbar 15:39)

When man works through the test of existential loneliness, which is tantamount to emotional darkness and confusion, and chooses, light, aloneness, and uniqueness, in an emunah relationship with God, he redeems himself. When he grapples with his yetzer hara while engaged in interpersonal relationships,  and chooses, through emunah, to follow his yetzer hatov, he finds meaning and fulfillment. He is redeemed.

Adam I and Adam II exist simultaneously in each of us. We seek success in the world as Adam I, and are engaged in relationships with spouse, parents and siblings, as Adam II.  When we realize that we are simultaneously Adam I and Adam II, and we fluctuate and travel between the two selves, we come to understand that something is missing. We seek ultimate purpose. The antidote is to have our Adam I and Adam II selves, together, enter into a relationship with True Reality–God.

Ultimately the Adam I and II selves achieve this by bringing God into his neshama-thoughts, ruach-words and nefesh-actions.  Man achieves this by seeking l’hisdamos l’kono—to emulate his Creator, by actualizing one or more of God’s Thirteen Attributes. In this way man fills the existential loneliness within him by filling himself –with God Himself. This is called deveikus, and achieves for man, shleimus which dispels the darkness of loneliness.

We learn this from Avraham Avinu who scoured the cosmos for the Creator, who traveled a life journey with his wife Sarah, and then found shleimus when he entered into a bris—a covenant with God.

When we work through the existential loneliness of Adam I and Adam II, we gain aloneness, uniqueness, independence, and therefore, redemption. This is the reason the Jewish day begins at night, as the Torah says:   And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Breishis 1:5. Not only is the nature of creation a duality of dark and light, meaning crisis and redemption, but man’s very essence is comprised of darkness and light, loneliness and aloneness, chomer (materialism) and tzurah (purpose),  within the fabric of his very being.

Adam I is tasked with working through the darkness of his chomer—his physical, material, existential purposelessness. Adam II is tasked with working through the interpersonal isolation and loneliness that he experiences even while he is engaged in relationships with spouse, children parents and friends. He does this by fulfilling the mitzvah of v’halachta  bdrachav—walking in his ways, thus forging a living, dynamic relationship with God. When he adds God to the equation, by acting like God, he brings God into his life and into the world; then daybreak arrives, as boker—morning, means bikur–clarity.

When he chooses to activate the unique good within himself, even while the evil inclination within him is fully operating, he emerges from loneliness, and achieves shleimus—wholeness, Adam Redeemed. We now realize that the story of creation and the world—is the story of man’s journey from Adam I to Adam II, to Adam redeemed.

[1] The Lonely Man of Faith, Doubleday, 1965

[2] Rabbi Chaim Vital, Shaarei Kedushah

[3] Soloveitchik, op.cit., p.29

[4] From Friday night Amidah

[5] Grunfelfanfel, Dayan

[6] Soloveitchik, op.cit.,  p. 34).

[7] Soloveitchik, op.cit., p.36.

[8] Soloveitchik, op.cit., p.40)

[9] Rema, Orach Chaim, 1:1

This is an excerpt from the book, Alone Against the World-the Torah Antidote to Loneliness, by Rabbi Yisroel Roll

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