Friday, July 4, 2008

The Danger of Duality

Rav Yitzchak Aizik Chaver zt”l taught that our tradition of avoiding eating, drinking, and other activities in zugos, or pairs, is a very deep matter. One unit represents Hashem’s absolute Unity; two is dangerous, because it introduces the concepts of duality, division, and conflict. Going from one to two is compared to the descent from Hashem’s Unity before creation to the “Other-ness” of a seemingly independent creation. Adding a third element is a way to restore the initial unity—much in the way that the midline of the body is the point of balance and integration that joins together two apparently independent sides. The odd unit is the way that we are brought back symbolically to the One.
The Ben Ish Chai zt”l illustrated this esoteric idea with a story. A man was hiking in the wilds on his own, when suddenly a fearsome lion crossed his path. It stared at him balefully, clearly sizing him up as prey. Fear-struck, the man’s mind raced during the few split seconds he had left, as he scurried to think of some way out of this deadly predicament. Just as the beast crouched to pounce, he came up with a desperate plan.
“Bang!” he shouted at the top of his lungs, sighting down his upraised walking stick. In mid-leap, the lion fell down, dead! Half-dead from shock himself, the man could barely believe it. “Could it be that my walking stick has such power?!”
Just then, a hunter came upon the man. Euphorically, the hiker exclaimed, “My stick is just as powerful as your gun! Look what it did to this lion over here!”
“You fool!” the hunter could barely restrain his laughter. “Did you really think that screaming ‘bang!’ brought him down? I saw he was about to devour you, and I held him in my sights and shot him with my own rifle!”
How foolish do we seem when we fail to the see the One pulling the strings behind the scene!

No comments: