Before much ink is used, the Torah already tells us about the Divine call for diversity. From the outset, we see throughout the creation story that “God separated,” at each day’s end. Arguably the most referenced biblical commentator, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, RaSHI, (12th Century, France) stated that “God saw that it would not be good for darkness and light to serve together, because it would bring about confusion; so He established a boundary for the day hours and boundary for the night hours.” Our first call for diversity, was not to keep darkness and light away from each other, but rather to create a space where each can summon its own strength so as to prevent confusion from plaguing the world; to develop the space (eve) for the two to exist in harmony.
On day 6th, in the moments preceding Shabbat, Adam the First dwelled in Eden without much concern, without a challenge; without interruption. This one-dimensional model of Mankind would soon change forever, as it was God’s will to do so. As stated, “It is not good for Man to be alone, I will make a Helper opposite him (2:18).” Thus, henceforth, Mankind would forever be linked to the other, not as a burden, but as an opportunity to achieve the most Godly of attributes: the ability to create.
Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz, the Kli Yakar, (17th century, Prague) states that Hitnagdut (opposition) was created to “help, and to benefit the other, so that through directing one’s face opposite the other, one can truly learn how to love. As it is written (Psalms 16:8), “I place myself opposite God always.” Do not understand this to be the opposition found in war, but rather, the opposition where love is built—like a face mirrors water.” This is our aim with Mankind and God: to see diversity as chance to enrich one’s life experiences.
In a world of fragmented beauty and chaos, we have the ability to retreat into a uniformity and sameness that may place us at risk of having the inability to invite-in what appears to be so different then me. But God calls for us, as we have learned, God has a different idea. God calls to me, God calls to humanity, and challenges us to not only welcome and tolerate those who appear to be opposite me, but to see them as a helpmate; to embrace, in the call for diversity.
Isaiah is JOC raised in a Lubavitch family in Monsey, NY. Isaiah received his Bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University, as well as a Master’s in social work. Currently Isaiah is expecting to finish his Rabbinical studies at Yeshiva University in the coming school year and works full time as the Madrich Ruchani (Spiritual and Experiential Educator) at Carmel Academy of Greenwich in Greenwich, CT.
Header image courtesy of Pixabay.