100.05 Man—and the Quest for Potential (pps.72-73)

hard cover page 72

100.05 Man-and the Quest for Potential

Man’s ultimate quest for potentiality is a primary imperative of the universe.
Soloveitchik notes:

Man initially is receptive, is pure potentiality. But creation, by definition, means spontaneity, actuality, action, renewal, aspiration, and daring.251

With respect to the very first reference to man in Genesis (1:26) “let us make man in our image,” Ibn Ezra comments: “Now I shall explain something you should know, namely, that the entire act of creation was for the purpose of man in accordance with the commandment of God. .. . Accordingly, since man’s rational soul never dies it is comparable in its eternity to God. . . . And, therefore, the prophet states that ‘he saw the Glory of God as the appearance of a man.’ “252

The portions of the Torah (Pentateuch) and Prophets read on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, focus on the belated conception of a child by Sarah and Hannah. The focus is not on the creation of the world, which would seem the natural selection. The focus is, rather, on the problem of conception faced by two important personages in Jewish history. Why this focus on Rosh Hashanah? Thus we might reinforce our notion that biological conception parallels the creation of the universe. For the potential of Sarah to conceive Isaac and the potential of Hannah to conceive Samuel are implicit in creation, which is itself predicated on holy potential. Thus the conception of Isaac and Samuel, each of whom would bring cosmic potential a significant step closer to fruition, are indeed events quite relevant to the anniversary of creation. The

——————- NOTES ——————-

251 Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man, p. 131.

252 Stitskin, Eight Jewish Philosophers, p. 120


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