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THE ONE OF US

by Rabbi Yisroel Shaw    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"In the image of G-d, He created him, male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27).

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"In the image of G-d, He created him, male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27).

The most meaningful part of the account of the world's beginning is the creation of Man. At the same time, it is the least understood. Let us take a brief glimpse at what our sages tell us about Man's creation. Not only might we gain a better understanding of the words of the Torah, but by looking into the origins of Man, we can gain a better understanding of the human race - of ourselves.

The Torah cryptically states that G-d "created him," referring of course to the first Man, Adam. As we are all aware, he was created alone, and only later (Genesis 2:22-23) was his partner, Eve, created. However, the very next words in the verse contradict this - "male and female He created them," implying that both Adam and Eve were created at the same time. A similar contradiction arises in later verses. The Torah states, ". . .male and female He created them" (ibid. 5:2), while it also states, ". . .for in the image of G-d He created the Man" (ibid. 9:6).

The Talmud (Tractate Berachot 61a) addresses this problem. The Talmud explains, "At first, it arose in the thoughts of Hashem to create two people, and in the end only one was created." Thus, when the verse states, "male and female He created them," it is describing Hashem's original intention, and when it says, "He created him," it is describing what actually happened. This resolves the contradiction between the verses and enhances our understanding of the details involved in creation. However, it also leaves us with more questions.

What does it mean that Hashem originally wanted to create two humans, and then He made only one? How can we say that Hashem changed His mind? Furthermore, if He decided in the end to create only one, why did He later make the one into two?

The Rashba, a 13th century commentator, explains that when the Talmud says that at first Hashem thought about creating two and then created one, it means that the creation of Man was carefully planned out to be executed in the most effective way. Hashem carefully planned out whether to create the male and female entities as one (that is, having one creature with both male and female attributes) or as two (having one creature with male attributes, and another with female attributes). It does not mean that He changed His mind, but rather that His creation was done with forethought and thorough consideration. Why, then, did He later end up making two humans? The Rashba offers two answers:

(1) The two that were eventually created were not the same two of His original plan. Originally, Hashem considered the implications of creating Man and Woman as two completely separate species that could not propagate together and would not serve as counterparts to each other. Hashem, in His Divine deliberation, decided not to create two types of beings and instead He created one being, meaning one species of human beings, which included both Man and Woman.

(2) Alternatively, Hashem originally considered creating Man and Woman from the start as two individual entities (of the same species), but in the end He decided that both Man and Woman should come from one body.

The reason for this decision was so that Man and Woman would feel eternally bonded to each other. When they would come together as man and wife, they would feel as though they were always intended to be together as one, for that is how they were originally created. Again, Hashem never changed His mind, so to speak. Rather, His infinite wisdom pondered all of the possible ways of creating the human being before deciding to do it in one particular way.

The Vilna Gaon, an 18th century Torah giant, offers another explanation. When the Talmud says that Hashem initially "thought to create two," it means that when He created one, He already had in mind to eventually make two out of that one. The end goal and final purpose of Hashem's creation is always the first and the beginning of His thoughts, as we declare every Friday night in the Lechah Dodi prayer, "Last in deed, but first in thought." Hashem thought about creating two beings, and His original thought was actualized later when He took two out of one. In other words, both steps were necessary - the creation of one at first, and then the creation of two - in the creation of the human being.

If Man and Woman were created as one, it would not have been possible for a person - either male or female - to fulfill his or her ultimate purpose of immersion in Hashem's Torah and service of Hashem, because his or her responsibilities would be too great. Therefore, Hashem created Man and Woman separately so they could share the responsibilities and enable each other to accomplish their respective goals. However, Hashem created them as one body to begin with, and not two bodies, as a step towards creating them as two. Man and Woman, as husband and wife in every generation would feel an eternal bond with each other, as though they were created at the beginning of time as one.

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Rabbi Yisroel (Joseph) Shaw attended Yeshiva Atlanta, lives in Israel, and teaches Torah over the Internet at dafyomi.co.il

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