Jewish Happiness and Growth
By Moshe Katz
A Simple Jew

July 17, 2017, 23 Tamuz 5777

The world is filled with many modern cliches; Think outside the box, leave your comfort zone, it is what it is, and happiness is to be found within yourself.

There is a modicum of wisdom in this, but please, it is not the word of God. It is just man trying to make sense of chaos. Yes, we must seek happiness and not expect happiness to come from the outside. We must make our effort. In Jewish terms this is called Hishtadluth, similar to Gung Fu, Great Effort, my inner struggle. Yes, to get on our feet we must first get off our butt. But as the Bible teaches, it is not good for man to be alone. (Genesis, Bereshith chapter 2, verse 18) and the verse continues I will create for him a counterpart to help him. (woman).

The rabbis who study the mysticism of the Bible ask, Why Did the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, begin with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the letter Beth, (B)? What not start with Alef, (A)?

Now lets' think. Alef is the first letter of Emeth (Amath), Truth. Truth is certainly a good thing, a very powerful and important concept. But it is not enough. Yes, Truth is not enough.

God is a single, one, God is complete as a single unit, man is not. Only God can fulfill his purpose in the universe as a single unit, all other creatures require a set; male and female. Otherwise they die out, in more ways than one.

Beth has the value of 2, while Alef has only the value of 1. In Eastern traditions, like Buddhism, enlightenment comes from being alone, from deep meditation, from detaching oneself from the world, from removing oneself from society and meditating in the mountains. In Judaism this is frowned upon. Celibacy is rejected. Family and community life is celebrated.

One person, no matter how great, can never create a third. That is the law of nature. Only two people, a man and a woman, can create a third. Thus they become part of creation along with God himself!

So Alef, 1, Truth, is inherently limited. While two, even without perfection, even an imperfect couple, even without pure truth, can be complete and produce a future.

It is the same with study partners. We are taught a man must have a friend, a rabbi, and a study partner, Havrutha. These are things one must have. The Talmud says, a friend or death. You must make every effort to acquire a good friend.

One man studying alone is limited. Two studying together delve into new areas and reach new depths of understanding, new heights of spirituality. In the book of Ecclesiastes it is written, the two are better than the one, for if one shall fall the other shall help him get up.

Thus the most holy book starts with 2, not 1.