Friday, September 29, 2006

Be a man

Rabbi Shlomo (Gustav Karl Friedrich) Wolbe (1914- 2005) explains[1] what it means to "be a man." He writes that a man recognizes his places in the world. Great men recognize their role and understand that there are those who are superior to themselves and there are those inferior to themselves. Evil men, on the other hand, become haughty, and many instances become bent on world domination[2]. This can explain why Rabbi Yochanan said[3] that Adam is an acronym for ash, blood, and bile in the middle of a Talmudic discussion about haughtiness and superficial pride. When a human realizes who insignificant he truly is, he will see that he is only a conglomeration of blood, ashes, and bile. According to this understanding, one can even understand that Adam refers to the Adamah (ground), and that the fact that humans are made from the ground and destined to be buried there serves to remind man about his role in the great scheme of existence and especially in comparison to the greatness of man's creation. A man, by nature, is a damager, whether intentional or inadvertent[4]. A man must also rely on others, therefore only a married man is a true man,[5] and so the Rabbis introduced a blessing detailing the creation of man to be said at every Jewish wedding[6]. Since a man needs to rely on others, he needs land upon which to stand, so the Talmud also said[7] that a man who does not own real property is not called a man because the Torah says, "And the land was given to the sons of Adam.[8]" Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman (1875-1941) writes[9] that the degree of one's manhood is measured by his amount of fear of heaven, as King Solomon wrote, "In the end, [after] all is heard, fearing HaShem and observing His commandments is all [there is to the definition of] man.[10]"

[1] Alei Shur, Volume 2, 1:1
[2] See Chullin 89a
[3] Sotah 5a
[4] Bava Kamma 3b
[5] Yevamos 63a
[6] Kesubos 8a
[7] Yevamos 63a
[8] Psalms 115:16
[9] Kovetz Mamaarim
[10] Ecclesiastes 12:13

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...