Midreshet Amit


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The 2 Adams: Striking the Perfect Balance

By: Tzippy Kaplan

In this week’s Parsha, Bereishit, we start off with the story of creation...twice? In both Perek Aleph and Perek Bet, the story of creation is told, but if you look closely, there are some major differences between the tellings. The most noticeable differences are in the telling of creation and in the role of man. In Perek Aleph, the seven days of Creation were told in great detail, in an organized fashion, and with such positivity (as seen by the “Ki Tov” at every day of Creation.) Additionally, in this Perek, man is charged with the responsibility of Peru Urevu, to populate the Earth. In Perek Bet, the story of Creation is rushed, mostly focusing on the creation and roles of man and women. Man’s role changes to naming all of the animals and not eating from the Eitz HaDa’at. How can we reconcile the fact that the same story is told differently in two different Perakim? There are two Biblical skills used when this issue comes up: differentiation and harmonization. Differentiation is when the differences between the two tellings of the story are used to highlight what we are supposed to learn from the story. Harmonization is reconciling the differences between the tellings to show how that there are no contradictions. Rav Soloveitchik uses differentiation to create the concept of Adam 1 and Adam 2.

The Rav uses the differences in the description and the role of man to create Adam 1 and Adam 2. He describes Adam 1 as a creative, dominant character who wishes to rule over everything. Adam 1 focuses on the physical, practical side of life; he asks how does the world work rather than why the world works the way it does. In contrast, Adam 2 is described as a more humble, spiritual character who desires to grow close to Hashem. Adam 2 focuses on the spiritual and metaphysical, contemplating the purpose of life, why the world exists, and who is Hashem. Both versions of Adam have positive and negative aspects. Adam 1 is a creative, practical, force of nature, but he is not in touch with spirituality. He is compared to a modern day Jew who is in danger of assimilating completely in the modern world. Adam 2 is the complete opposite: he is fully in touch with Hashem and spirituality, but he has his head in the clouds, never involved in society.

It is our duty as modern day Jews to not fully become Adam 1; we must create the perfect balance of Adam 1 and Adam 2. We must not let being active in the modern world distract us from keeping the spirituality and closeness with Hashem with us at all times.

Shabbat Shalom.