We’re back at the beginning
We’re back at the beginning. Our Torah scroll is set with all its weight on the left. The first chapters of Genesis assert a hard-hitting truth: “Lo tov heyot adam l’vado.” “It is not good for a human being to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) God has just made the first human, from dirt and Divine breath, and places this new being into the Garden of Eden “to work the earth and take care of it.” Then God watches and studies this new creature and observes a fundamental character trait: “It is not good for this person to be alone.” Was this a design flaw that God then sought to correct? Or was “Needs to be with Others” an intended feature from the start and only with the creation of the “ezer k’negdo” (helpful partner) was the creation complete?
We’ve all learned a lot about alone-ness these many months. Some have found new discoveries, new strengths, new talents in isolation. Others have found the solitude to be depressing or even frightening. However, necessary physical distancing continues to be, it seems that solitude is not what God intended for us.
The Kli Yakar, of 17th century Prague, explains the verse “It isn’t good for a person to be alone” to mean that “a human being, by its very nature, has a greater need for Love and Union (אהבה ואחדות) than any other living creature.” There is something about our humanity, about the human condition, about the human experience that drives us towards human connection. It seems that God built into the original design, interdependence among human beings.
Shabbat is on its way. We may not be able to gather around Shabbat tables as we wish we could. We may not be able to congregate in the sanctuary as we wish we could. But we can connect and reconnect with other human beings near and far. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Send some flowers. Join in tomorrow morning’s Torah Study at 9 am when we go back to the beginning of our Torah cycle and begin again — together. Invite a friend to a “watch party” of our Shabbat Morning Service when we will see two new B’nei Mitzvah to the Torah for the first time. You will delight in meeting them and they will be strengthened by knowing you, their congregation, are with them.
Genesis 2:18, put in the positive, asserts: It is good and healthy for a person to be with other human beings. This is what sacred community does best. This is what Shabbat is for.