HE-SHE says: Be a ‘Mensch’

serious_manA Mensch is many things and one simple thing. A mensch does what is right because it is right; towards family, towards strangers, at home and in public. When people behave with honesty, integrity, consideration and respect, they themselves prosper as does society at large.
By spreading mensch-like behavior we can make our society happier, healthier and more successful.
(beamensch.com)


Mensch (mentsch) – literally “man”: an honorable, decent, stand-up person, as in, “I don’t care who you marry, as long as he’s a mensch.”
(myjewishlearning.com)

 

God’s Hidden Name Revealed
by Mark Sameth, Reform Judaism Website 2009

 
As God begins to create the first human being—the Adam—he says, “Let us make the earth-creature in our own image.” The text goes on: “Then God created it in God’s own image. Male and female God created them” (Genesis 1:26–27).
The text seems to be saying (and the rabbis of the Talmud and Midrash understood it this way) that Adam was created by God as male and female. The rabbis spoke openly about this, and even composed elaborate speculative stories about the separation of this hermaphroditic creature into the male and female characters that we know as Adam and Eve. …
What the rabbis were less willing to openly discuss was the extent to which this earth creature was created in the dual-gendered image of God. But if we read the text as a mystic might, paying extremely close attention and assuming that the biblical text conceals more than it reveals, we may find hints regarding God’s androgynous nature.

 
androgyn2
 
Consider, for example, that the Torah:
– identifies Moses as a nursing father (Numbers 11:12)
– tells us that Adam “is the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20)
– recounts that Abraham instructed his servant to be on the lookout for a woman who will offer to water the camels because “he is the woman” for my son (Genesis 24:44)
And the list goes on.

Needless to say, the notion of an androgynous God creating essentially androgynous human beings has profound implications.
Long ago the Zohar, the book of Jewish mysticism par excellence, declared, “It is incumbent on a man to ever be male and female” — a strange statement especially in the 13th century. But recently our society has begun to show signs of being able to understand, and willing to accept, this message. …
Jeffrey Salkin, author of ‘Searching for My Brothers, notes that Jewish and Western cultures have long held very different perspectives on the issue of androgyny.
While Western culture says “be a man,” he explains, the message of Jewish culture has always been “be a mensch.” Menschlekeit, which he defines as “mature manhood,” is “a combination of both masculine and feminine traits.”

 


Queen: I want to break free

The Kinks: Lola

 

Striving for wholeness in ourselves

 
In her landmark book, ‘Deborah, Golda, and Me’, Letty Cottin Pogrebin challenged Jews “to enlarge men’s capacity for emotional expression and family care-giving, and to expand children’s options regardless of their gender…”
The work of Reform Judaism — indeed the work of all the world’s progressive, egalitarian, religious communities — requires an ever deepening commitment to this mending.
This means: striving for wholeness in ourselves; with our loved ones; in the relationship between self and community; and in the relationship among individual communities and the world at large.

He-She is Our God, He-She is One

Now, grounded in this new understanding of God as He-She, it is time for us to jettison the stereotypical conception of God as an old man with a long white beard sitting in the clouds.
Thinking of God as He-She allows us the freedom to see the Divinity as the totality of all male and female energy. …
It is time for us to consider changing our most sacred prayers, in particular those which refer to God as Lord. … We can confidently revisit our faithful declaration: “Hear O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4) and affirm instead: “Hear O Israel: He-She is Our God, He-She is One.”

Mark Sameth, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion class of 1998, is a member of Pleasantville Synagogue Community, Pleasantville, New York.

 

A Serious Man:  Movie 2009


A serious man: Trailer

 
A Serious Man” is the story of an ordinary man’s search for clarity… It is 1967, and Larry Gopnik, a physics professor at a quiet Midwestern university, has just been informed by his wife Judith that she is leaving him…
His son Danny is a discipline problem and a shirker at Hebrew school, and his daughter Sarah is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job. His brother becomes more and more of a burden, an anonymous hostile letter-writer is trying to sabotage Larry’s chances for tenure at the university. Plus, the beautiful woman next door torments him by sunbathing nude.

Struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions, so he can become a righteous person, a Mensch, a Serious Man?
 

serious_manA mensch is a person with whom you would be happy to befriend and associate with, because you feel genuine in a mensch’s presence.
Menschlichkeit (the art of the mensch) has nothing to do with looks, with wealth, with success or with intellect.
A mensch exudes a certain magnetism that attracts us, whether or not words or glances are exchanged. A person is a mensch because he simply makes others feel good.
(jewishhealing.com)

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