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Late one night, as I sat hunched over a pile of books in the Gottesman library engaged in some fascinating research, a rare photograph caught my eye. The photograph, taken in , portrayed Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. The thought struck me that although I was highly knowledgeable about the life and legacy of Hacham Ovadia Yosef, I knew nothing at all about Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik.
This notion perturbed me, and I felt driven to learn more. Rabbi Dr. He dealt extensively with the meaning of Jewish law, and notably helped mediate between traditional Orthodox Judaism and the modern world. In this thought-provoking work, the rabbi investigates the dual nature of man through an in-depth analysis of the apparent contradictions in the portrayals of Adam in each of the two creation stories presented in the Book of Genesis.
In the first Genesis account, Adam I is commanded to dominate the earth. Adam I is described as a technologically sophisticated, utilitarian secular figure, while Adam the II is represented as a more spiritual creature in touch with the Divine.
According to Rabbi Soloveitchik, this textual disparity represents the fundamental paradox integral to the human condition. Man is driven simultaneously by two conflicting urges: his desire to dominate the world and fulfill his practical needs on the one hand, and a quest for meaning which requires complete submissiveness to God, on the other. Faith is lonely because it cannot be fully understood by the secularly-oriented aspect of the human psyche intent on controlling the environment.
So the human being both craves faith and evades it. As the essay unfolds, the rabbi delves into an ever-deepening analysis of the internal experience of those who seek both creative, domination-inspired engagement with the world, and redemptive closeness with God.
A close reading of this work reveals its author as a man torn between two conflicting aspects of the human condition. Apparently, in this role as a man of faith, I must experience a sense of loneliness which is of a compound nature. Thus, even the solitude so profoundly experienced by Rabbi Soloveitchik was dual in nature: it functioned both as a means of furthering his connection to God, and as an inevitable outcome of each level of connection he achieved.
As I suggested above, this state of aloneness is a prerequisite for the human being to develop his personal relationship with God, achieve true faith, and find fulfillment in his capacity as the spiritually-oriented Adam II. But there is even more to loneliness than this. Thus, the loneliness intrinsic to the life of the man of faith, is actually a gift that enables him to find fulfillment on every level. Loneliness stems from the awareness of our own unique individuality. Every person experiences this gift of loneliness in his own unique way.
Personally, this idea resonates with me strongly, as it is the sense of loneliness I experience in my quest to preserve the heritage of Sephardic Jewry that powers my creative drive to research, write and produce. Although I have many colleagues who are active in this realm as well, and equally as passionate as I to keep the Sephardic heritage alive, I feel utterly alone in the sense of urgency I ascribe to this mission.
My awareness that the future of our community is contingent upon a solid understanding of our history and roots is what fuels my deep concern for the next generation. As today turns into tomorrow and the present morphs into the future, my sense of urgency deepens.
And so does my sense of loneliness. But it is precisely this feeling that propels me to reach out to God for assistance, and to reach inward in discovery of my deepest wellsprings of creativity.
Soloveitchik, Crown Publishing Group, page Yehuda Azoulay. Soloveitchik Courtesy, via Yeshiva University Archives. Darcie Davida-Giborah Nadav-Sasson. He is a young and passionate noted scholar, educator, columnist, speaker, author, political activist, and entrepreneur. Double-Love the Convert. Yitzchak Ginsburgh. Shlomo Katz.
The Lonely Man of Faith: My Perspective on the Role of Loneliness in Human Creativity
Home Summer Issue 7. Soloveitchik Summer Issue 7. Escalating the Wars of the Lords. An Integrated Jewish World View. Red or Dead? The Dilemma of the Unbelieving Jew in Israel.
The Lonely Man of Faith
Soloveitchik , first published in the summer issue of Tradition , and published in a newly revised edition in by Koren Publishers Jerusalem. In The Lonely Man of Faith Soloveitchik reads the first two chapters of Book of Genesis as offering two images of Adam which are, in many ways, at odds with one another. The first Adam, or "majestic man," employs his creative faculties in order to master his environment as mandated by God; the second image of Adam is a distinctly different contractual man who surrenders himself to the will of God. Soloveitchik describes how the man of faith must integrate both of these ideas as he seeks to follow God's will. In the first chapter, Adam I is created together with Eve and they are given the mandate to subdue nature, master the cosmos, and transform the world "into a domain for their power and sovereignty. Adam I, created in the image of God, fulfills this apparently " secular " mandate by conquering the universe, imposing his knowledge, technology, and cultural institutions upon the world.
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