Shaya Cohen -


The Value of Human Connection

Where are we closest to G-d?

We have talked many times about how people cannot have a proper relationship with G-d unless they have a proper relationship with another person. From G-d’s decision to give Adam a mate right after He tells Adam not to eat the fruit, to the injunction that the Jews at Sinai, right after the revelation, should “return to your tents,” it is clear that we are not even able to follow a commandment properly unless we are doing it in the context of marriage.

Indeed, it is commonly pointed out that “man” and “woman” in Hebrew differ only by the letters in G-d’s name; and without those letters, there is only “aish”, destructive fire (apropos of Tisha b’Av). Healthy relationships must have G-d in them in order to avoid self-destruction.

So in a good relationship, G-d is ever-present, the third partner.

It is curious that the Gemara quotes Job about when G-d was closest to him.

Oh, who would give me a life like the months of yore, like the days when G-d watched over me. (29:2)


When the company of G-d was above my tent (29:4)

Since time is referred to as months and not years, the Gemara says that Job is talking about his time in utero, before birth. And it goes on to discuss the famous explanation about the unborn child learning the Torah in the womb.

But the text of Job itself does not refer to knowledge of Torah. It is merely about a golden age, when the proximity to G-d was as small as possible. Think of the unborn baby as having almost infinite potential, because it is closest to G-d, the source of infinity.

What is the connection? I would suggest that the lesson is actually very simple: we are closest to G-d when we are closest to another human being. An unborn baby is enveloped and supported by its mother, body and soul. The baby is entirely dependent on its mother for every single need.

And it is at this time that G-d watches over a person, hovering over his tent. If G-d exists in the relationships between people, then the strength of the divine relationship is in proportion to the strength of the human relationship. While some people manage to develop this kind of bond through the hard work of building a relationship in marriage, everyone starts life as an unborn baby, enjoying, as Job describes it, the greatest possible closeness to G-d.

Comments are welcome!

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