Printed from JewishThailand.com

02/20/2020

Friday, 21 February, 2020 - 3:19 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

2/20/2020

Yesterday, when I looked at the digital date on my computer it jumped out at me.

What do you notice when you look at the date?

The number 2 of course.

Tomorrow 2/22/2020 will contain even more 2’s than yesterday’s date.

In general, with the year being 2020 there is a lot of the number 2 around.

As the Ba’al Shem Tov taught, everyone we see or hear is a lesson for life.

What does the number 2 teach us?

Let us go back to the very beginning of humanity. 

5780 years ago.

Man was created alone, single. 

Adam.

Have you ever said to anyone, ‘leave me alone’?

That could mean anything from ‘don’t disturb, irritate, fight or G-d forbid harm me’. 

Adam didn’t have to say, ‘leave me alone’. To be more precise he couldn’t say ‘leave me alone’. 

He was alone.

It is be lonely to be alone.

But it is also peaceful. 

By default. You cannot argue with yourself. 

A little while later, Chava (Eve) was created.

There are now two humans on earth.

Male and female. Husband and wife.

Two. 

The fun and games begin.

Different. Not the same. Opposites. 

It’s gives an opportunity for arguments. Disharmony. Fractiousness. Divisiveness.

Oy vey!

Yesterday’s date was full of 2’s. tomorrow has even more 2’s. 

Quick, I thought to myself, instead of thinking of the 2’s as negative let me discover the positive aspects of 2!!!

I mean, if the date yesterday and the date tomorrow and the entire year is going to have me looking at number 2, I had better find the positivity in it.

Thank G-d, I did. I discovered that the number 2 is a fantastically empowering number.

Here goes.

Let me use marriage as an example. 

Humanity was not created in a married state. There is a reason that G-d created man single. To teach us the importance of every individual person. Each life matters. YOU count!

(Click here, here and here for more on this).

But Hashem doesn’t leave the world in its one-man state for long. Once that lesson, the indispensability of every person, has been embedded within humanity, G-d no longer leaves Adam alone. G-d upgrades creation to make Adam’s life even better.

G-d gives Adam a helpmate. A female counterpart. A companion of the opposite gender. 

In simple English we call it a wife.

Now there are two people living together.

That is much better than before. The Torah tells us that for that brief period before Chava was created, Adam was extremely lonely. He felt incomplete. Adam knew the great gift of marriage that G-d had given him.

As for Chava? She was literally not able to conceive of life without Adam. He was there from the moment she came into existence. She didn’t ever experience life as a single. (Click here for Kabbala’s teachings on the topic of differences between male and female).

Marriage should be and can be phenomenal.

Yet, we all know the statistic out there about marriage. Obviously as good as marriage is, they are not easy to hold together.

Because meeting your number 2 is a challenge. It requires moving away from the unchallenged peacefulness of the independent ‘I’ as the self-absorbed number 1 who stands uncontested. 

Two is a challenging number by its very definition. It creates a struggle over previously assumed supremacy. At the very least it contests the singularity and monopoly of the One.

Is challenge bad?

In a sense that is like asking Is marriage bad.

Of course not!

It depends on how you perceive it and what you do to make the best of it.

Ask the caterpillar if challenge and struggle is bad. The struggle is the catalyst that enables him to grow wings and become a butterfly.

Same with marriage.

The Talmud says that if ‘you merit’, the husband and wife dynamic can be one of immense benefit and support. G-d gives us the recipes in the Torah for a wholesome and beneficial marriage relationship. The laws of Family Purity and Mikva are G-d’s roadmap for making a marriage the truly wholesome and enchanting experience that it is meant to be.

(Yes, as we all know, a marriage gone awry is the greatest source of fractiousness. Divorce lawyers have their hands full. Its not just a fight between two people, it’s a struggle between two people who were two parts of one whole. The greatest opportunities also have the flip side of great disappointment when they don’t work out).

However, even an enthralling marriage is not a straight line without ups and downs. It is after all a union between two people with differences. The Talmud says it succinctly about people in general ‘just as their faces are not identical, so are their opinions not the same’.  

The Chasidic masters provided a reinterpretation of the verse in the Torah describing the creation of Eve as a partner to Adam: ‘I will make for him a helpmate against him’ as being the great secret of life. 

Her being against him is the greatest help!

This deeply insightful reading of the verse is a gamechanger.

The differences and the ensuing friction that the 2 brings to the 1 is a gift. The very resistance and challenges that it offers, that itself is the gift. 

It is up to us to look at the ups and down of life in this way. To reframe the challenge and the struggle not as a source of angst, rather as a source of opportunity for greater growth.

If you utilize the 2 opportunity correctly, you get to the great gift of 3.

In a marriage, that refers to the G-dly blessing of a third entity that emerges from the union of the two marriage partners. 

A child. A fusion of mother and father in a independent third entity. 

You cannot get to that infinitely valuable gift of a child without going through the challenge of relinquishing your uncontested one’ness. 

Two is thus the greatest source of blessing.

It may not seem obvious while you are engaging the 2. The friction may overshadow the latent gift. 

By the time you see the results, the 3, you look back and realize how good the 2 was.

 (Rabbi Eliezer Posner explains this thought masterfully in relation to the days of creation. Day two vs Day three).

This week’s portion is Mishaptim. Rule of judgment. What to do when people have disagreements. The Torah doesn’t say never disagree. We are humans. We see things differently than each other and we think differently. The Torah teaches how to reconcile disagreement. What is right and what is wrong. The Torah instructs us to overcome our differences via going to an unbiased judge schooled in Torah’s moral code.

How would one implement this kind of reframing?

The date 2/20/2020 contains more than just 2’s. It contains 0’s too.

The key to having productive 2’s is 0 = ZERO = humility.

Think back to an argument you have had with a relative, a spouse or a friend. 

Was the actual difference of opinion the problem? Usually not.

Diversity is helpful and colorful. We don’t like eating bland foods. We like variety. Sweet, then sour. Or sometimes we like sweet and sour together.  

The negativity that is associated with difference of opinion is the ego that is mixed in. It is the arrogance and ego that leads differences of opinions to become personal power struggles and contentious squabbling. 

Take away the ego and you can have a healthy exchange of ideas and come to a happy medium. 

If you can focus on trying to focus on the goal of raising a well-balanced happy and healthy family you will be more successful in navigating the challenges of marriage and discovering the gift of two different identities merging as one.

If you can look beyond personal gain and think about serving Hashem and making this world a better place, you arrive at a better place, a greater depth, a more wholesome conclusion, because of the diversity and challenge of the number 2 who may disagree with you. 

May Hashem bless us to be able to be humble, empowered and inspired to learn more Torah, do more Mitzvahs and be exemplary in our caring conduct to our loved ones and friends.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

 

PS The world is facing a time of uncertainty.

Our region, China and its neighbors are not sure of the status of the Coronavirus.

For us in Thailand, the Israeli restrictions on travel from Thailand to Israel and the quarantine upon arrival in Israel, have brought Israeli tourist traffic to a trickle.

Chabad of Thailand is used to having thousands of guests every day at the Chabad Houses and Kosher Restaurants. Even after taking emergency measures and slashing costs, the remaining overheads are still substantial. 

Expenses without the usual revenue’s spells HELP. 

Threatened with ruin because of Corona Virus, El Al will receive an emergency $50 million government infusion.  

But who will come to the rescue of Chabad of Thailand?

Hopefully YOU!

It’s a challenge.

No question that it will lead to something great.

It always does.

Shabbat Shalom

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