Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use


Are You Two-Faced?

are you two-faced

The Hebrew languages contains an array of hidden meanings and insights. Rabbi Daniel Lappin probed many of these in his book Hidden Treasure.

One of the most intriguing is the word for face, panim. It is in the plural form. The “im” ending in Hebrew is the equivalent of adding an “s” in English. Yet face is not a plural word. It is singular. We only have one face.

Or Do We? 

Perhaps the Hebrew pluralized form conveys something about human nature. Perhaps we can understand “face” as more than a physical attribute. It is our way of experiencing of the world.

We can both love and hate. We give and take. We smile and we frown. To be “two-faced”–or three-faced or four-faced–is not to be duplicitous. It is to be human. 

How God Made All of Us Two-Faced

A stunning exploration of this idea is found in the work of the most important Orthodox Jewish thinker of the twentieth century, Joseph Soloveitchik. Soloveitchik pointed out that the Bible contains two accounts of the creation of human beings.

In the first telling we read “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image and likeness. Let him dominate the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock animals, and all the earth, and every wild animal that walks the earth.’” (1:26)

This story highlights our dominance and majesty. We resemble God, and we dominate the natural world.

In Genesis chapter two, however, we read, “God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life. Man became a living creature… God took man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to till and to tend it.”  (2:7,15)

Here we find no reference to having been created in the image of God. We are not given dominion over the earth. Our primary task is “to till and tend it.”

Two Sides of One Truth

On the literal level, each of these cannot be true. On a spiritual and psychological level, however, they can be.

Each of us has a strong creative side, and a contemplative sacred side. Part of us wants  bigger, faster, stronger. The other part wants gentler, slower, more relaxing.

Part of us prepares endlessly for the future. The other savors the moment. Part of us wants control. The other part wants to be held in the hands of God. 

Soloveitchik’s insight is that the two creation stories in Genesis reflect two aspects of the same person. What seems like the creation of two separate being is really a story about the complexities of us all.

Our greatest challenge is to bring them into balance. Only then we can find harmony and happiness.

To get free weekly spiritual inspiration from Rabbi Moffic, click here. 



Previous Posts

Do You Know What Hurts Me? A Story
  A great rabbi went into a bar. He overheard a conversation between patrons.   One said to the other, “Friend, do you love me?” “Of course I do,” the second man replied. “We’ve known each other our whole lives.”   “Then tell me, friend,” said the first man, “

posted 1:01:07pm Sep. 01, 2014 | read full post »

Does Religion Cause War?
Deadly images on television tear at our heart. We wish for the violence in Israel to end. This land, sacred to three global religions, seems endlessly mired in conflict. Does religion just

posted 12:36:26pm Aug. 17, 2014 | read full post »

The Healing Power of Laughter: The Jewish Genius of Robin Williams
In Jewish tradition we have a special greeting for a genius. Upon meeting such a person, we say, Blessed are You, Eternal God, Source of Life, who has given from His wisdom to flesh and blood.  Had I ever met Robin Williams, I would surely have said it. Williams was a singular genius. He brought

posted 2:26:21pm Aug. 12, 2014 | read full post »

God Never Gives Up Hope: A Prayer for Israel
 I remember my first visit to Israel in 1994. The Oslo Accords had just been signed. Hope reigned. My group was greeted warmly in the Arab market in Jerusalem. The opposite feelings prevail today. We witness bombings, indiscriminate hatred, vitriol. Dozens of my friends who are there now share w

posted 10:19:40pm Jul. 13, 2014 | read full post »

The Secret to Happiness? Let Life Surprise You
I remember sitting one day with my  three-year-old daughter. She had a book in her and was turning the pages and telling the story. This was her regular habit. She could not yet read the words, but she could tell the story based on the pictures. I had one ear listening to her voice and the ot

posted 4:23:22pm Jul. 09, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.