Not Good!

וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ ה’ אֱלֹקים לֹא־ט֛וֹב הֱי֥וֹת הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדּ֑וֹ אֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לּ֥וֹ עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ

Hashem Elokim said: It is not good for the man to be alone; I shall make for him a helper opposite him.
Bereishis 2:18

וַיֹּ֛אמֶר חֹתֵ֥ן מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֵלָ֑יו לֹא־טוֹב֙ הַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתָּ֖ה עֹשֶֽׂה׃ נָבֹ֣ל תִּבֹּ֔ל גַּם־אַתָּ֕ה גַּם־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִמָּ֑ךְ כִּֽי־כָבֵ֤ד מִמְּךָ֙ הַדָּבָ֔ר לֹא־תוּכַ֥ל עֲשֹׂ֖הוּ לְבַדֶּֽךָ׃

Moshe’s father-in-law said to him: This thing which you are doing is not good. You and this nation that is with you will languish, because this thing is harder than you[r abilities], you can not do it alone.
Shemos 18:17-18

Only twice does the chumash refer to something as “לֹא־טוֹב — it is not good”. The first is an assessment by Hashem at the creation of humanity, “seeing” (really: letting us see) that Adam needs a wife. The other in this week’s parashah (Yisro), when Yisro sees Moshe trying to single-handedly teach Torah and decide halakhah, and suggests that Moshe deputizes a hierarchy of what we would eventually call rabbis to handle the easier questions. And both times, it’s “לְבַדּ֑וֹ  / לְבַדֶּֽךָ” alone.

A person is supposed to be connected into a society. Trying to make it לבד, alone, is the very essence of what is means to be “not good”; it is something other than what Hashem made us and the world for.

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  1. barzilai says:

    You would think that והלכתי בדרכיו, what you call imitatio dei, would davka encourage לבדו.

    • micha says:

      And would one think that vehalakhta birdrakhav means we should kill people?

      I am still trying to make sense out of imitatio Dei. R’ Amital notes that the Sifri picks examples from the 13 Middos haRachamim. As in “ta’asu lefanai keseider zeh…” The problem is that the Rambam’s paraphrase in Hilkhos Dei’os does not. Not that I feel a particular need to follow the Rambam, but it does show that the topic isn’t open-and-shut.

      • barzilai says:

        I think pshat is that we have a mesora from Avrohom Ovinu that the true middos are rachamim, and we see cruelty only because physical vision is twisted and shifted.

        • micha says:

          Yes, that works on the hypothetical plane. But it doesn’t help on the pragmatic level — if we cannot see His Middos accurately enough to know how to emulate them, how can one fulfill “vehalakhta bidrakhav”.

          • Shlomo Engelson Argamon says:

            That’s why we get the 13 middot, perhaps – to tell us what to pay attention to, since we cannot figure it out just from our experience of Gd’s actions in the world?

          • micha says:

            See what I said in reply to “barzilai” — RYAmital said just that, but it doesn’t fit the Rambam Hil’ Dei’os 1:6:

            כך למדו בפירוש מצוה זו מה הוא נקרא חנון אף אתה היה חנון מה הוא נקרא רחום אף אתה היה רחום מה הוא נקרא קדוש אף אתה היה קדוש ועל דרך זו קראו הנביאים לאל בכל אותן הכנויין ארך אפים ורב חסד צדיק וישר תמים גבור וחזק וכיוצא בהן להודיע שהן דרכים טובים וישרים וחייב אדם להנהיג עצמו בהן ולהדמות אליו כפי כחו.

            The Rambam illustrates imitatio Dei with examples beyond the 13 middos, even adding “and the like” afterward.

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