The Individual and Society (R' Chaim Navon, Yeshivat Har Etzion)
1 א

(יח) וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ יקוק אֱלֹים לֹא־ט֛וֹב הֱי֥וֹת הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדּ֑וֹ אֶֽעֱשֶׂהּ־לּ֥וֹ עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ׃ (יט) וַיִּצֶר֩ יקוק אֱלֹהִ֜ים מִן־הָֽאֲדָמָ֗ה כָּל־חַיַּ֤ת הַשָּׂדֶה֙ וְאֵת֙ כָּל־ע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וַיָּבֵא֙ אֶל־הָ֣אָדָ֔ם לִרְא֖וֹת מַה־יִּקְרָא־ל֑וֹ וְכֹל֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִקְרָא־ל֧וֹ הָֽאָדָ֛ם נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה ה֥וּא שְׁמֽוֹ׃ (כ) וַיִּקְרָ֨א הָֽאָדָ֜ם שֵׁמ֗וֹת לְכָל־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּלְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּלְכֹ֖ל חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה וּלְאָדָ֕ם לֹֽא־מָצָ֥א עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ׃ (כא) וַיַּפֵּל֩ יקוק אֱלֹהִ֧ים׀ תַּרְדֵּמָ֛ה עַל־הָאָדָ֖ם וַיִּישָׁ֑ן וַיִּקַּ֗ח אַחַת֙ מִצַּלְעֹתָ֔יו וַיִּסְגֹּ֥ר בָּשָׂ֖ר תַּחְתֶּֽנָּה׃ (כב) וַיִּבֶן֩ יקוק אֱלֹהִ֧ים׀ אֶֽת־הַצֵּלָ֛ע אֲשֶׁר־לָקַ֥ח מִן־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְאִשָּׁ֑ה וַיְבִאֶ֖הָ אֶל־הָֽאָדָֽם׃ (כג) וַיֹּאמֶר֮ הָֽאָדָם֒ זֹ֣את הַפַּ֗עַם עֶ֚צֶם מֵֽעֲצָמַ֔י וּבָשָׂ֖ר מִבְּשָׂרִ֑י לְזֹאת֙ יִקָּרֵ֣א אִשָּׁ֔ה כִּ֥י מֵאִ֖ישׁ לֻֽקֳחָה־זֹּֽאת׃ (כד) עַל־כֵּן֙ יַֽעֲזָב־אִ֔ישׁ אֶת־אָבִ֖יו וְאֶת־אִמּ֑וֹ וְדָבַ֣ק בְּאִשְׁתּ֔וֹ וְהָי֖וּ לְבָשָׂ֥ר אֶחָֽד׃ (כה) וַיִּֽהְי֤וּ שְׁנֵיהֶם֙ עֲרוּמִּ֔ים הָֽאָדָ֖ם וְאִשְׁתּ֑וֹ וְלֹ֖א יִתְבֹּשָֽׁשׁוּ׃

(18) And the LORD God said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.’ (19) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them; and whatsoever the man would call every living creature, that was to be the name thereof. (20) And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a help meet for him. (21) And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the place with flesh instead thereof. (22) And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. (23) And the man said: ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ (24) Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. (25) And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

2 ב

Samuel David Luzzatto AKA the Shadal (1800 -1865) lived in Trieste, Italy

3 ג

(יח) לא טוב היות האדם לבדו: אין הכוונה לומר, שהאל נמלך ממחשבתו, אלא המכוון הוא להעיר אותנו על יקרת הזיווג. ולהודיע כי לא טוב היות האדם לבדו, ולפיכך רצה הקב"ה, שיהיה האדם שרוי שעה אתת בלא אשה ואח"כ הזמינה לו כדי שתהיה חביבה עליו אחר שהרגיש כי בזולתה היה חסר, ומזה ילמדו גם הדורות הבאים כי לא טוב היות האדם לבדו. ותלמידי מוהר"ר איגל מוסיף, כי מה שכתוב לא טוב וגו' אינו אלא כאומר שעדיין לא נשלמה כוונת הבורא בבריאת האדם, כי אחר בריאת כל דבר כתוב וירא אלהים כי טוב, שנעשה רצונו, וכאן לא נעשה עדיין רצונו, כי מעולם לא היה רצונו שיהיה האדם יחידי.

"It is not good for man to be alone": The intention of the text is not to say that G-d changed his mind; rather, G-d wanted to emphasize to us the importance of having a partner. And in order to make it known that it's not good for man to be alone, G-d wanted man to exist for a moment in time without a wife and afterwards summoned her to him. Therefore, she would be beloved to him since he had already experienced that without her he was lacking. And future generations will also learn from this that it's not good for man to be alone. And the students of R' Eagel add that the words "it's not good" teach us that G-d's direction for the creation of man was not yet complete, since after every act of creation the text says, "And G-d saw that it was good", that His will was carried out, and here His will was not yet carried out. Therefore His will was never that man would exist alone.

4 ד
  • Why did G-d create man alone first, and only after some time create woman?
  • Is there value to the experience of being alone?
5 ה

The covenantal faith community, in contradistinction to the natural work community, interprets the divine pronouncement "It is not good for man to be alone" not in utilitarian but in ontological terms: it is not good for man to be lonely (not alone) with emphasis placed upon "to be"... Adam the second must quest for a different kind of community... His quest is for a new kind of fellowship which one finds in the existential community. There, not only hands are joined, but experiences as well; there, one hears not only the rhythmic sound of the production line, but also the rhythmic beats of hearts. (The Lonely Man of Faith, pp. 26-28)

6 ו

Adam the second is a profound man, and therefore also a lonely man. The community which he establishes is, therefore, existentially far more significant. That community is also more demanding: in order to benefit from social relations, one must also sacrifice. For this reason, Adam the second must sacrifice so that Chava, his life-mate, may be fashioned: he must give up a rib. The partnership that he creates with Chava, which is the archetype for the community that he creates, is profound and meaningful. Spiritual and sensitive people create more meaningful social connections. (R' Chaim Navon, The Individual and Society, Yeshivat Har Etzion)

7 ז

The synagogue served to maintain society precisely where and to the extent that it avoided all social motives... At the climax of Jewish public devotions, on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, when the likelihood is greatest that the individual will turn his thoughts away from his selfish motives and social ambitions, he is likely to be absorbed almost completely in his society-congregation. This experience of coalescence, though it is temporary, is not likely to go without effect. The internal cohesiveness of the Jewish community was undoubtedly nourished by the depth of the religious experience of the ever-recurring ritual... Only where religion lives on its own independent resources - man facing God - is it unconsciously and paradoxically also transformed into an all-important social preservative. (Jacob Katz, Tradition and Crisis, pp. 181-182)

8 ח
  • What do sources 3-5 tell us about the features of a spiritual community, or what you need to build spiritual community?
9 ט

Case Study: Esther

10 י

(ז) וַיְהִ֨י אֹמֵ֜ן אֶת־הֲדַסָּ֗ה הִ֤יא אֶסְתֵּר֙ בַּת־דֹּד֔וֹ כִּ֛י אֵ֥ין לָ֖הּ אָ֣ב וָאֵ֑ם וְהַנַּעֲרָ֤ה יְפַת־תֹּ֙אַר֙ וְטוֹבַ֣ת מַרְאֶ֔ה וּבְמ֤וֹת אָבִ֙יהָ֙ וְאִמָּ֔הּ לְקָחָ֧הּ מָרְדֳּכַ֛י ל֖וֹ לְבַֽת׃

(7) And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter; for she had neither father nor mother, and the maiden was of beautiful form and fair to look on; and when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter.

11 יא

(י) לֹא־הִגִּ֣ידָה אֶסְתֵּ֔ר אֶת־עַמָּ֖הּ וְאֶת־מֽוֹלַדְתָּ֑הּ כִּ֧י מָרְדֳּכַ֛י צִוָּ֥ה עָלֶ֖יהָ אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־תַגִּֽיד׃

(10) Esther had not made known her people nor her kindred; for Mordecai had charged her that she should not tell it.

12 יב

(י) וַתֹּ֤אמֶר אֶסְתֵּר֙ לַהֲתָ֔ךְ וַתְּצַוֵּ֖הוּ אֶֽל־מָרְדֳּכָֽי׃ (יא) כָּל־עַבְדֵ֣י הַמֶּ֡לֶךְ וְעַם־מְדִינ֨וֹת הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ יֽוֹדְעִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר כָּל־אִ֣ישׁ וְאִשָּׁ֡ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר יָבֽוֹא־אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ֩ אֶל־הֶחָצֵ֨ר הַפְּנִימִ֜ית אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־יִקָּרֵ֗א אַחַ֤ת דָּתוֹ֙ לְהָמִ֔ית לְ֠בַד מֵאֲשֶׁ֨ר יֽוֹשִׁיט־ל֥וֹ הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ אֶת־שַׁרְבִ֥יט הַזָּהָ֖ב וְחָיָ֑ה וַאֲנִ֗י לֹ֤א נִקְרֵ֙אתי֙ לָב֣וֹא אֶל־הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ זֶ֖ה שְׁלוֹשִׁ֥ים יֽוֹם׃ (יב) וַיַּגִּ֣ידוּ לְמָרְדֳּכָ֔י אֵ֖ת דִּבְרֵ֥י אֶסְתֵּֽר׃ (פ) (יג) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מָרְדֳּכַ֖י לְהָשִׁ֣יב אֶל־אֶסְתֵּ֑ר אַל־תְּדַמִּ֣י בְנַפְשֵׁ֔ךְ לְהִמָּלֵ֥ט בֵּית־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ מִכָּל־הַיְּהוּדִֽים׃ (יד) כִּ֣י אִם־הַחֲרֵ֣שׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי֮ בָּעֵ֣ת הַזֹּאת֒ רֶ֣וַח וְהַצָּלָ֞ה יַעֲמ֤וֹד לַיְּהוּדִים֙ מִמָּק֣וֹם אַחֵ֔ר וְאַ֥תְּ וּבֵית־אָבִ֖יךְ תֹּאבֵ֑דוּ וּמִ֣י יוֹדֵ֔עַ אִם־לְעֵ֣ת כָּזֹ֔את הִגַּ֖עַתְּ לַמַּלְכֽוּת׃ (טו) וַתֹּ֥אמֶר אֶסְתֵּ֖ר לְהָשִׁ֥יב אֶֽל־מָרְדֳּכָֽי׃ (טז) לֵךְ֩ כְּנ֨וֹס אֶת־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים הַֽנִּמְצְאִ֣ים בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן וְצ֣וּמוּ עָ֠לַי וְאַל־תֹּאכְל֨וּ וְאַל־תִּשְׁתּ֜וּ שְׁלֹ֤שֶׁת יָמִים֙ לַ֣יְלָה וָי֔וֹם גַּם־אֲנִ֥י וְנַעֲרֹתַ֖י אָצ֣וּם כֵּ֑ן וּבְכֵ֞ן אָב֤וֹא אֶל־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־כַדָּ֔ת וְכַאֲשֶׁ֥ר אָבַ֖דְתִּי אָבָֽדְתִּי׃ (יז) וַֽיַּעֲבֹ֖ר מָרְדֳּכָ֑י וַיַּ֕עַשׂ כְּכֹ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוְּתָ֥ה עָלָ֖יו אֶסְתֵּֽר׃ (ס)

(10) Then Esther spoke unto Hathach, and gave him a message unto Mordecai: (11) ’All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law for him, that he be put to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live; but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.’ (12) And they told to Mordecai Esther’s words. (13) Then Mordecai bade them to return answer unto Esther: ‘Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. (14) For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father’s house will perish; and who knoweth whether thou art not come to royal estate for such a time as this?’ (15) Then Esther bade them return answer unto Mordecai: (16) ’Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day; I also and my maidens will fast in like manner; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.’ (17) So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

13 יג

The relationship between the Jewish people and its individual members is different than the relationship between any other national group and its constituents. All other national groups only bestow upon their individual members the external aspect of their essence. But the essence itself each person draws from the all-inclusive soul, from the soul of God, without the intermediation of the group... This is not the case regarding Israel. The soul of the individuals is drawn from ... the community, the community bestowing a soul upon the individuals. One who considers severing himself from the people must sever his soul from the source of its vitality. Therefore each individual Jew is greatly in need of the community. He will always offer his life so that he should not be torn from the people, because his soul and self-perfection require that of him. (Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Orot, p. 144)

14 יד

There is a person who sings the song of his soul. He finds everything, his complete spiritual satisfaction, within his soul.

There is a person who sings the song of the nation. He steps forward from his private soul, which he finds narrow and uncivilized. He yearns for the heights. He clings with a sensitive love to the entirety of the Jewish nation and sings its song. He shares in its pains, is joyful in its hopes, speaks with exalted and pure thoughts regarding its past and its future, investigates its inner spiritual nature with love and a wise heart.

There is a person whose soul is so broad that it expands beyond the border of Israel. It sings the song of humanity. This soul constantly grows broader with the exalted totality of humanity and its glorious image. He yearns for humanity’s general enlightenment. He looks forward to its supernal perfection. From this source of life, he draws all of his thoughts and insights, his ideals and visions.

And there is a person who rises even higher until he unites with all existence, with all creatures, and with all worlds. And with all of them, he sings. This is the person who, engaged in the Chapter of Song every day, is assured that he is a child of the World-to-Come.

And there is a person who rises with all these songs together in one ensemble so that they all give forth their voices, they all sing their songs sweetly, each supplies its fellow with fullness and life: the voice of happiness and joy, the voice of rejoicing and tunefulness, the voice of merriment and the voice of holiness.

The song of the soul, the song of the nation, the song of humanity, the song of the world—they all mix together with this person at every moment and at all times.

And this simplicity in its fullness rises to become a song of holiness, the song of God, the song that is simple, doubled, tripled, quadrupled, the song of songs of Solomon—of the king who is characterized by completeness and peace.

Orot Hakodesh II, p. 444