June 12, 2014

60 Days of Growth – Be a Man! Girls, this is for you too! (Day 44)

shutterstock_131587814Have you ever heard the expression, “He’s such a menstch“? or in Hebrew, “Act like a ben-adam!”? What do these phrases really mean? The Yiddish word, menstch, literally means man and the Hebrew word, ben-adam, literally means “son of Adam” or “son of man”. What is meant when we use this expression? Well, you see, in the Torah we are told a story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They were conned by a snake into eating a fruit that they shouldn’t have, this is where the mis-conception happens, they weren’t punished for eating the fruit, as much as they were punished for how they reacted when confronted about it. Rather than taking responsibility for their actions and saying they were sorry, they passed the blame on to the next person (or snake as the case may be) and this really pisssssed God off.

Ever since then, human kind (the sons and daughter of Adam and Eve) have been trying to make up for that. One of the main driving purposes of our lives is to just fess up and take responsibility for our actions. So when we use the term, mentsch or ben-adam, we are reminding ourselves of what it means to be a person, what Adam and Eve should have done, to take responsibility for our actions. That is exactly where the English expression, “Be a man” comes from. It has nothing to do with sexism or manliness, it has to do with the crucial characteristic of Mankind which is taking responsibility for our actions. The characteristic that Adam and Eve neglected to bring out and the characteristic that we are responsible to work on.

Today’s Jewish mission is to “be a man” or be a member of mankind and exemplify this characteristic of mankind, based on the shortcoming of Adam and Eve, and take responsibility for your actions.