Imagine a teenager lying on a grassy field, gazing into the night sky. As he stares up at the stars, he thinks to himself, “Look at how enormous the universe is. The sky just expands endlessly... It must go on forever.” After sitting with that thought for a few moments, he becomes uncomfortable. “How can anything go on forever? Everything must stop eventually.” But after a few moments of relaxation, his thoughts intrude again. “But how can the universe stop? What exists on the other side when the universe ends? It must go on forever...” And this inner dialogue continues as he struggles to contemplate the infinite within his finite mind. This struggle is not a childish one; it is a challenge that confronts any finite being who tries to connect to the infinite.

Countless Torah themes and halachos are centered around the value of the community (tzibur/klal) and how one must dedicate himself to the greater good of the Jewish People. If everyone is unique and individually important, how can we understand the concept of unity and the need to work toward becoming part of something bigger than ourselves? Must we sacrifice our uniqueness and individuality for the sake of the “klal,” for the greater good of the community? What is the deeper Jewish approach to this struggle and conflict between individuality and community, between uniqueness and being part of a unified group? In our last article, we began opening up this topic by explaining Rav Dessler’s three levels of order. In this piece, we will delve more deeply into this topic in order to build a paradigm through which we can answer these questions on an even deeper level.

There was an old man who would walk along the beach every morning before work. He was walking along the shore early one morning after a big storm had passed, and found the beach littered with starfish. As he continued further down the shore, he suddenly noticed a small boy in the distance who was picking up shells from the shore and gently throwing them into the ocean. As he got closer, he realized that this boy was actually walking amongst the thousands of starfish that had been washed up during the storm. As he came across each starfish, he would gently pick it up and throw it back into the ocean.

Before Adam sinned, he required no clothing (B’reishis 2:25). His physical body radiated light, loyally expressing his angelic soul. Once Adam sinned, however, his physical body lost this spiritual level, no longer fully expressing the or (light) of his inner soul. The pasuk describes how Adam and Chavah suddenly realized their nakedness and became embarrassed, desiring to cover their bodies with clothing (ibid. 3:7). What is the meaning behind their embarrassment, and why was clothing the ideal remedy?