At LimmudNY, I heard Rabbi Yitz Greenberg (who, incidentally, is surprisingly hilarious) speak about people being created in the image of God, what that means, and what that means for human sexuality and Jewish sexual ethics. What I got out of it is not directly about sexual ethics, but rather a more simple message that should be obvious, and might be obvious to others, but was just on the brink of obviousness to me. This pushed the nascent, recently-developed thought over the edge into unalterable reality.
It says in the Mishna in Tractate Sanhedrin 4:5:
להגיד גדולתו של מלך מלכי המלכים, הקדוש ברוך הוא, שאדם טובע מאה מטבעות בחותם אחד, וכולן דומין זה לזה, מלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא טובע את כל האדם בחותמו של אדם הראשון, ואין אחד מהם דומה לחברו
"...to proclaim the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, for when a human being strikes many coins from one mould, they all resemble one another, but the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, fashioned every man in the stamp of the first man, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow."Adam and Eve were created in the image of God and we were all created from Adam and Eve. Yet, miraculously, we are all different from each other. No two people are alike. Our uniqueness and our Godliness are one and the same, since they come from the same place.
What of this uniqueness? Who cares?
When we love people, when we really connect to people, we love them because of their unique identities. We love them for precisely the things that make them different from everyone else we know. When Rabbi Greenberg said that, I realized that it was true in my own life, about all of the people I love. I know that I certainly wouldn't love them more if they were more like someone else.
Therefore, the person who will ultimately love me more than anyone else is also going to love me for what is uniquely me about me.
Ergo, it is absurd to hide or alter my essential one-ness, my essential uniqueness, for the sake of finding a lifelong partner. (I don't think I ever actually do this, but I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't help move things along in that department.)
I also realized that I only want to end up with someone who will love me for my singularity. I don't seek perfection in a potential partner by any means, but anything less than someone who loves me for who I really am is not acceptable.
Clarification: I'm not suggesting that someone has to love me for my singular ability to be late or for my singular ability to let papers accumulate until the piles are too high for words. No, what I mean is that I want someone to love me for all the things that I love about myself, even as I strive to fix the things that I don't love about myself.
Likewise, I want to find someone to love for all of the things that make him him, for all the things that he likes about himself. (I think that this is part of why it's so hard, or perhaps impossible, to fall in love with someone who loves nothing about himself.)
I think that I may be getting to a place where I can finally say that I like x, y, or z about myself, without worrying that that's a bad, egotistical thing. And for that, I am extremely grateful.
All in all, not a bad set of realizations for one weekend! Thank you, LimmudNY.
[Cross-posted to Jewschool.]