Saturday, October 15, 2005

Reconciling Differences, Differentiating Reconciliation

“Said the Holy One Blessed Be He: they should all be tied in one binding, and they will atone one on the other”.
hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhVayikra Rabba, XXX, XII.

Said R’ Yehuda Ben Babba: neither all men, nor all places, nor all times are alike”.
hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhMishna: Yevomos, XVI, III.

Differences differentiate our oneness. Divisions divide our identicalness. Details detail us strangers. It is the blessing and curse of humanity: we are all the same – all the same in that we are all different.

Similarities simulate sameness. Generalities generate resemblance. Equality equals equivalence. It is the blessing and curse of humanity: we are all different – all different in that we are all the same.

Time and again the importance of unity, of no man is better than another, is stressed. Yet, simultaneously, every man looks for that exclusive niche, that path less (or never) traveled, to make him unique, to make him special in the eyes of his peers. So, what is it going to be – bleak unity or unique division?

Unity is a thing of the root. The closer to the root, the more united it will be. Everything, from the sciences to the philosophies to the arts, is rooted in unity – that is, when rooted it is united; only when a something begins expressing itself, when it starts branching out of its root, does it detail into fragmentation.

Uniqueness, on the other hand, is a thing of the branch. The more a something branches out, the more unique it will be. At the root, it is covered in soil; when it branches out, it will bare exotic fruit. Branching, as a form of expression, is expression: the more one expresses himself, the more detailed and, therefore, the more unique that expression will be.

(There is the argument that subtlety is more unique than surplus – an argument which seems to suggest that uniqueness does not find itself in detail. That argument would be true only if detail meant excess; however, true detail is true subtlety.)

After all of that unique talk about unity (or that united talk about uniqueness), how to reconcile the branch of unique individuality with the root of defragmented unison?

Have you ever seen so absurd a sight as this – a man standing in a hut, in one hand he holds a lemon on steroids, and, in the other, a bulimic branch; together he shakes them. Tell me please, is this bringing him closer to G-d, is this how one celebrates the culmination of Creation, Forgiveness, and Life?

Ah, but you look only at the shell – never judge a branch by its leaf, nor a fruit by its peel – just look beneath the surface and everything will be clear.

The Four Kinds – four kinds of personalities: the Esrog, a man rich both in taste and fragrance; the Lulav, a man rich in taste, but not in fragrance; the Hadas, a man rich in fragrance, but not in taste; the Arava, a man rich neither in fragrance nor in taste. These four are much more than some agricultural mixed-breed of tastes and fragrances; they are the four general personalities of man.

Some of us, albeit a precious few, are Esrogim, have both Taste, the delicious lettering of the Torah, and Fragrance, the heady scent of doing good deeds, Mitzvoth; others are Lulavim, concentrating full time on the taste of the Torah and focusing but marginally on the fragrance of the Mitzvoth (marginally because, “one who says ‘all I have is Torah’, even Torah he doesn’t have” (Yevomos, 109,2.): one who learns but doesn’t do, doesn’t truly learn.); then there are those who are do-gooders but are not necessarily great scholars; and finally there are those who, as of yet, are Tasteless and Fragrant-less, they lack in both the “palate” of Torah and the “perfume” of Mitzvoth.

No one is like another, another is like no one; you have something I do not have, I have something you do not have. Herein lies the beauty: G-d says, “Tie them all [the different personalities] in one binding [unite them all], and they will atone one on the other” – alone I am imperfect, alone you are imperfect, but just bind us together and we become perfection. Pure beauty.

There is Unity and there is Harmony. They are not contradictions in terms; they are but two ways of looking at something. In the Holy Tongue the words would be Yochid and EchodYochid, the one and only; Echod, one as opposed to two. At first glance, it would seem that Yochid is greater than Echod, for nothing exists besides for it – it is the one and only. And the first glance would be true in that Yochid has something which Echod does not, the “only” factor; but it would be false in thinking that this factor deems it greater, for Echod has a factor that Yochid does not. Echod is Harmony: true, there exist details, each unique in their own way, but they lay together in harmony. Beauty is not one color splashed on a canvass; Beauty is many colors interacting to create a masterpiece.

Orchestrate an allegorical symphony: there are a hundred musicians, instructing different instruments, noting different notes, pitching different pitches, sounding different sounds; majoring a major, flattening a flat – alone, a bunch of detailing individuals; together, a symphony of sound.

There are two ways of looking at it – the Yochid way and the Echod way: in the Yochid way they are all musicians; in the Echod way they are all playing different instruments.

Here is where Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur differ from Succos: on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we are all musicians, all equalized by the Shofar’s blowing and united by the prayer book: on Rosh Hashana we are in a Nation to King relationship, in a state of awe; on Yom Kippur we are in a Wife to Man relationship, in a state of newlywed wonderment. Ah, but Succos, we let loose: yes we are all musicians, but we all play our own unique instrument; yes we all sit on the same stage, but we all stage our own unique chord – and we do it all in Harmony.

So, the truth is, one cannot be truly unique unless one is truly united, and one cannot be truly united unless one is truly unique. As we, the four different kinds, sit under the stars, surrounded by the Clouds of Glory, may we bind together as one, with you making me complete, and I making you complete – complete, yes, but not completed.

9 Comments:

Blogger Dovid said...

Very interesting.

10/16/2005 1:19 AM  
Blogger wandering said...

interesting how the lulav, esrog, etc symbolize a very external differences. they do not relate to different levels of neshamos or something lofty like that, but on our externalties, our actions.

10/17/2005 2:23 AM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

may i suggest a Mammar from the Rebbe, "u'lekachtem luchem... 5739" (found in Meluket Daled), to better understand this topic? well, i just did.

also check out the sources.

(there is a pirush in the Midrash, by the way, that says the four kinds repersent 4 levels in G-d, and, as the Rebbe says in the aformentioned Mammar, therefor, in our physical world, it translates into the 4 personalities.

but see it four yourslef in the Mammar.)

10/17/2005 3:49 AM  
Anonymous a whale watcher said...

Whoever you are, go out into the evening,
leaving your room, of which you know each bit;
your house is the last before the infinite,
whoever you are.
Then with your eyes that wearily
scarce lift themselves from the worn-out door-stone
slowly you raise a shadowy black tree
and fix it on the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made the world (and it shall grow
and ripen as a word, unspoken, still).
When you have grasped its meaning with your will,
then tenderly your eyes will let it go...

-r.M. rilke

10/19/2005 8:38 PM  
Blogger wandering said...

thank you for the reccomendation. the maamar was very enlightening.

10/19/2005 9:08 PM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

in german, the title of that initiating poem is "eingang", which also, besides for initiation, means "one way" (ein gang) - or, in the "watchers" case, "one whale".

that WAS pushing it.

10/19/2005 10:08 PM  
Anonymous ww said...

ha! well at least you got to expand the limits of your etymological abilities...

10/19/2005 11:34 PM  
Blogger CENSORED said...

Keep up the great work. . .

10/20/2005 1:59 AM  
Blogger The real me said...

Shvily,
Long time no sit in bloggsville, truth be told I haven't even read the post, but I am sure its interesting.

Anyway see you tonight.

10/22/2005 8:17 PM  

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