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

In the Wake of the Kansas City Horror: The Life-Saving Power of Interfaith Conversation
This post was written with my friend and colleague, Reverend Lillian Daniel.  The late great Abraham Joshua Heschel was once asked why he devoted so much time to interfaith dialogue. He answering by recounting part of his family history. “When the Nazis came for my parents,” he wrote,

posted 1:56:25pm Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Sermon from the Mound: 7 Spiritual Truths from the Baseball Diamond
Sports are one of the great sources for spiritual insights. As a child, I remember paying extra attention when the rabbi used an illustration  from baseball or football. They helped me visualize and understand the spiritual lesson. Of all sports, baseball lends itself best to Jewish wisdom.

posted 3:53:17pm Apr. 06, 2014 | read full post »

The Perfect Diamond with a Scratch: A Story of Hope and Healing
This short story, first told in the 19th century, continues to bring comfort and healing. We can use it every day of our lives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esDr_IdrhjQ

posted 9:57:01pm Feb. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Love Wins: 3 Spiritual Lessons from Disney's Frozen
I used to enjoy walking into a home of peace and quiet. Since the film Frozen premiered, I have lacked this simple pleasure. Its soundtrack seems to play on a continuous loop every day throughout our home. I guess that’s part of the price to pay for having two small children. As a glass h

posted 4:21:04pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Date Night With God
A healthy marriage is sustained by consistency. It is not the big moments—the wedding day, the birth of a child, the new home. It is the acts of love and commitment expressed daily, weekly and year after year. Sustaining them is not always easy. One consistent practice I suggest to young parent

posted 6:28:55pm Feb. 10, 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.