Ezer Kenegdo | Sefaria (2024)

בראשית א׳:כ״ו-ל״א

(כו) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹקִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ וְיִרְדּוּ֩ בִדְגַ֨ת הַיָּ֜ם וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּבְכָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבְכָל־הָרֶ֖מֶשׂ הָֽרֹמֵ֥שׂ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (כז) וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹקִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹקִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃ (כח) וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹתָם֮ אֱלֹקִים֒ וַיֹּ֨אמֶר לָהֶ֜ם אֱלֹקִ֗ים פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֛וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁ֑הָ וּרְד֞וּ בִּדְגַ֤ת הַיָּם֙ וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּבְכָל־חַיָּ֖ה הָֽרֹמֶ֥שֶׂת עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (כט) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹקִ֗ים הִנֵּה֩ נָתַ֨תִּי לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־כָּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב ׀ זֹרֵ֣עַ זֶ֗רַע אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י כָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאֶת־כָּל־הָעֵ֛ץ אֲשֶׁר־בּ֥וֹ פְרִי־עֵ֖ץ זֹרֵ֣עַ זָ֑רַע לָכֶ֥ם יִֽהְיֶ֖ה לְאָכְלָֽה׃ (ל) וּֽלְכָל־חַיַּ֣ת הָ֠אָרֶץ וּלְכָל־ע֨וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֜יִם וּלְכֹ֣ל ׀ רוֹמֵ֣שׂ עַל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ֙ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה אֶת־כָּל־יֶ֥רֶק עֵ֖שֶׂב לְאָכְלָ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃ (לא) וַיַּ֤רְא אֱלֹקִים֙ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם הַשִּׁשִּֽׁי׃ (פ)

Genesis 1:26-31

(26) And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.” (27) And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (28) God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.” (29) God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. (30) And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give] all the green plants for food.” And it was so. (31) And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

בראשית ב׳:ט״ו-כ״ד

(טו) וַיִּקַּ֛ח ה' אֱלֹקִ֖ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵ֣הוּ בְגַן־עֵ֔דֶן לְעָבְדָ֖הּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ׃ (טז) וַיְצַו֙ ה' אֱלֹקִ֔ים עַל־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר מִכֹּ֥ל עֵֽץ־הַגָּ֖ן אָכֹ֥ל תֹּאכֵֽל׃ (יז) וּמֵעֵ֗ץ הַדַּ֙עַת֙ ט֣וֹב וָרָ֔ע לֹ֥א תֹאכַ֖ל מִמֶּ֑נּוּ כִּ֗י בְּי֛וֹם אֲכָלְךָ֥ מִמֶּ֖נּוּ מ֥וֹת תָּמֽוּת׃ (יח) וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ ה' אֱלֹקִ֔ים לֹא־ט֛וֹב הֱי֥וֹת הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדּ֑וֹ אֶֽעֱשֶׂהּ־לּ֥וֹ עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ׃ (יט) וַיִּצֶר֩ ה' אֱלֹקִ֜ים מִן־הָֽאֲדָמָ֗ה כָּל־חַיַּ֤ת הַשָּׂדֶה֙ וְאֵת֙ כָּל־ע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וַיָּבֵא֙ אֶל־הָ֣אָדָ֔ם לִרְא֖וֹת מַה־יִּקְרָא־ל֑וֹ וְכֹל֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִקְרָא־ל֧וֹ הָֽאָדָ֛ם נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה ה֥וּא שְׁמֽוֹ׃ (כ) וַיִּקְרָ֨א הָֽאָדָ֜ם שֵׁמ֗וֹת לְכָל־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּלְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּלְכֹ֖ל חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה וּלְאָדָ֕ם לֹֽא־מָצָ֥א עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ׃ (כא) וַיַּפֵּל֩ ה' אֱלֹקִ֧ים ׀ תַּרְדֵּמָ֛ה עַל־הָאָדָ֖ם וַיִּישָׁ֑ן וַיִּקַּ֗ח אַחַת֙ מִצַּלְעֹתָ֔יו וַיִּסְגֹּ֥ר בָּשָׂ֖ר תַּחְתֶּֽנָּה׃ (כב) וַיִּבֶן֩ ה' אֱלֹקִ֧ים ׀ אֶֽת־הַצֵּלָ֛ע אֲשֶׁר־לָקַ֥ח מִן־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְאִשָּׁ֑ה וַיְבִאֶ֖הָ אֶל־הָֽאָדָֽם׃ (כג) וַיֹּאמֶר֮ הָֽאָדָם֒ זֹ֣את הַפַּ֗עַם עֶ֚צֶם מֵֽעֲצָמַ֔י וּבָשָׂ֖ר מִבְּשָׂרִ֑י לְזֹאת֙ יִקָּרֵ֣א אִשָּׁ֔ה כִּ֥י מֵאִ֖ישׁ לֻֽקֳחָה־זֹּֽאת׃ (כד) עַל־כֵּן֙ יַֽעֲזָב־אִ֔ישׁ אֶת־אָבִ֖יו וְאֶת־אִמּ֑וֹ וְדָבַ֣ק בְּאִשְׁתּ֔וֹ וְהָי֖וּ לְבָשָׂ֥ר אֶחָֽד׃

Genesis 2:15-24

(15) The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden, to till it and tend it. (16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; (17) but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.” (18) The LORD God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” (19) And the LORD God formed out of the earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that would be its name. (20) And the man gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts; but for Adam no fitting helper was found. (21) So the LORD God cast a deep sleep upon the man; and, while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that spot. (22) And the LORD God fashioned the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman; and He brought her to the man. (23) Then the man said, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called Woman, For from man was she taken.” (24) Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.

רש"י על בראשית ב׳:י״ח:א׳

(א) לא טוב היות וגו'. שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ שְׁתֵּי רָשׁוּיוֹת הֵן, הַקָּבָּ"ה בָעֶליוֹנִים יָחִיד וְאֵין לוֹ זוּג, וְזֶה בַתַּחְתּוֹנִים וְאֵין לוֹ זוּג (בראשית רבה):

Rashi on Genesis 2:18:1

(1) 'לא טוב היות וגו IT IS NOT GOOD etc. — I shall make an help meet for him in order that people may not say that there are two Deities, the Holy One, blessed be He, the only One among the celestial Beings without a mate, and this one (Adam), the only one among the terrestrial beings, without a mate (Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer 12).

רש"י על בראשית ב׳:י״ח

(ב) עזר כנגדו. זָכָה – עֵזֶר; לֹא זָכָה – כְּנֶגְדּוֹ לְהִלָּחֵם:

Rashi on Genesis 2:18

(2) עזר כנגדו A HELP MEET FOR HIM — (כנגדו literally, opposite, opposed to him) If he is worthy she shall be a help to him; if he is unworthy she shall be opposed to him, to fight him (Yevamot 63a).

רד"ק על בראשית ב׳:י״ח

(א) ויאמר ה' אלקים, אמר אל לבו, או אמר ואדם שמע, והאמירה קול נברא לשעתו. ולפי ששמע מהאל "אעשה לו עזר כנגדו" לפיכך קוה שימציאהו בהאסף הבריות לפניו, ולכן נכתב באותו לשון עצמו "לא מצא עזר כנגדו". ונכתבו אלה הדברים בין המצוה והחטא, המצוה היתה לאדם, ואדם אמר לאשה אחר שהובאה אליו כי זה צוה עליו האל, והיא קבלה המצוה כאשר אמר לה אישה כי בת דעת היתה וידעה כי האל בראם, והיה מדבר אליהם באמצעות השכל שנתן להם על שאר ב"ח השפלים. (ב) לא טוב היות ה א ד ם ל ב ד ו, לא טוב שיהיה לבדו בלא חברה, כי אין לו חברה עם הבהמות החיות והעופות כי אינו שוה עמהם בבריאה.

(ג) אעשה לו עזר, שיהיה עוזר כאשר יצטרך, כמו שאמר (קהלת ד' ט') טובים השנים מן האחד, ועוד שצריך להשאיר אחריו ממינו ולא יתכן זה מבלי אחר שיהיה ממינו.

(ד) כנגדו, שיהיה לפניו ולעזרתו תמיד לשרתו, והכף ככ"ף כהיום (שמות ל"ט) כמשיגי גבול (הושע ה' י') כמתאוננים (במדבר י"א ב') והדומים להם, שהם לאמת הדבר ולחזקו, ודרש עזר כנגדו ידוע, זכה עזר לא זכה כנגדו (ב"ר י"ז, יבמות ס"ב). ומה שהבדילו משאר היצורים החיים כי כולם נבראו זכר ונקבה והאדם נברא לבדו, היה זה לטובת האדם ולכבודו, כמו שהוא מובדל משאר החיים בחמרו וצורתו, כי שאר החיים אין לזכר יתרון על הנקבה, והאדם יש לו יתרון על נקבתו למשול עליה ולצוות אותה כאשר ירצה כי היא אחד מאבריו, וכמו שהאבר שבאדם הוא לרצון אדם להנהיגו כאשר ירצה כן האשה לאדם. ובעבור שהאדם עקר היצירה שנברא תחלה והאשה טפלה לו ונוצרה ממנו היה כח באדם לכל דבר יותר מהנקבה וכח השכל גובר בו יותר מאשר באשה:

Radak on Genesis 2:18

(1) ויאמר ה' אלוקים, G’d did not utter these words audibly, as is the meaning of the word when applied to human beings, but He “spoke” to Himself. Alternatively, G’d did utter words to that effect without directly addressing Adam, but Adam happened to hear these words. When the Torah speaks of “G-d speaking,” we must understand this as a sound created especially for that particular occasion. Seeing that Adam overheard the words אעשה לו עזר כנגדו, “I shall make for him a suitable companion,” he had entertained the hope that when all the animals paraded before him that he would encounter among them the helpmate, companion, G’d had spoken of. This is how we must understand the words in verse 20 ולאדם לא מצא עזר כנגדו, that he had not found a suitable helpmate when reviewing all the animals and naming them.
The Torah inserted these words between reporting on the commandment not to eat from the tree of knowledge and the sin, in order to make plain that man’s sin was due to the influence of the woman, as he had not eaten from this tree before she had been formed and been given to him as a mate, companion. Clearly, also when G’d gave Adam the commandments and forbade him to eat from that tree, seeing that the woman had not been created yet, she could not have heard this commandment from the mouth of G-d, but only from the mouth of her husband. The woman was clever enough to know that G’d had created both her husband and her. She presumed that communication from G’d took place by means of both her and her husband’s intellect, seeing that they were the only creatures who had been endowed with superior intellect.

(2) לא טוב היות האדם לבדו, it is not good that he has no partner seeing that among the beasts he cannot find a partner, as none of them is on a par with him.

3) אעשה לו עזר, an assistant when the need should arise. Solomon, in Kohelet 4,9, paraphrased this when he wrote: טובים השנים מן האחד, “two are better than one alone.” Furthermore, woman was a necessity if man was to leave offspring behind to ensure the continuity of his species.

4) כנגדו, she should be constantly present to attend to his needs; the prefix letter כ is to be understood as in Samuel I 9,13 כהיום, and as in Numbers 11,1 כמתאוננים, and as in Hoseah 5,10 כמסיגי גבול, in all of which instances the letter כ serves to emphasize what follows. (compare Genesis 25,31 where Yaakov insists that the sale of the birthright be effective immediately with the words כיום, “as of today”) Other explanations of the word כנגדו are that if and when her husband would embark on a sinful path of action, it would be woman’s task to prevent him from doing so by opposing it; these are familiar to all my readers, I am sure. The basic difference between man the species and woman his mate who were not initially created as two separate individuals as opposed to all the other living creatures is to distinguish him favorably from all those other creatures. It draws attention to the fact that man is made from superior raw materials, and that as opposed to the other creatures among whom the male does not enjoy an advantage over the female, man, i.e. the male of the human species, does enjoy such an advantage. The male of the human species enjoys a position of authority vis a vis his female counterpart. The reason that he enjoys this right is the fact that woman is –after all- one of his own original limbs, and a person does have control over the various parts of his body. Seeing that the male of the human species had been the principal creation, woman became an adjunct to him, so that it is logical that man possesses superior strength to woman, and that also the power of his intellect is more manifest than that of his female counterpart.

אבן עזרא על בראשית ב׳:י״ח

(א) ויאמר. טעם לא טוב לאדם ועזר כטעם טובים השנים מן האחד

Ibn Ezra on Genesis 2:18

(1) ויאמר, The reason for "It is not good for Man...and Ezer" is that two are better than one.

רמב"ן על בראשית ב׳:י״ח

(א) לא טוב היות האדם לבדו איננו נראה שנברא האדם להיות יחיד בעולם ולא יוליד שכל הנבראים זכר ונקבה מכל בשר נבראו להקים זרע וגם העשב והעץ זרעם בהם אבל יתכן לומר כי היה כדברי האומר (ברכות סא) דו פרצופים נבראו ונעשו שיהיו בהם טבע מביא באיברי ההולדה מן הזכר לנקבה כח מוליד או תאמר זרע כפי המחלוקת הידוע בעיבור והיה הפרצוף השני עזר לראשון בתולדתו

2. וראה הקב"ה כי טוב שיהיה העזר עומד לנגדו והוא יראנו ויפרד ממנו ויתחבר אליו כפי רצונו וזהו שאמר אעשה לו עזר כנגדו וטעם "לא טוב" שלא יאמר בו כי טוב בהיותו לבדו שלא יתקיים כן במעשה בראשית ה"טוב" הוא הקיום כאשר פירשתי במאמר "וירא אלקים כי טוב" (לעיל א ד)

Ramban on Genesis 2:18

{All of this Ramban and the bolded parts of Ramban #2}

ספורנו על בראשית ב׳:י״ח:א׳

(א) לא טוב היות האדם לבדו לא יושג טוב התכלית המכוון בדמותו ובצלמו אם יצטרך להתעסק הוא עצמו בצרכי חייו:

Sforno on Genesis 2:18:1

לא טוב היות האדם לבדו, the purpose of the human species on earth will not be achieved while (1)man who is supposed to reflect the divine image will be left to personally carry out all the menial tasks of daily life on earth by being solitary.

ספורנו על בראשית ב׳:י״ח:ב׳

(ב) עזר כנגדו עזר שיהיה כמו שוה לו בצלם ודמות כי זה הכרחי לו בידיעת צרכיו והמציאם במועד'

ואמר כנגדו כי הנכנס לכף נגד דבד אחר כשיהי' שוה לו בשקל יהי' נגדו בקו ישר אבל כשלא יהיו שוים שני הנשקלי' יהי' זה עולה וזה יורד ולא יהיו זה נגד זה בקו ישר ובזה האופן אמרו רז''ל שקול משה כנגד כל ישראל אמנם לא היה ראוי שיהי' העזר שוה לו לגמרי כי אז לא היה ראוי שיעבוד וישרת אחד מהם לחבירו:

Sforno on Genesis 2:18:2

עזר כנגדו, a helpmate who will be equal to him, also reflecting the divine image. This is essential for him if he is to know what precisely his needs are and so that he can meet them on time.

The reason why the Torah added the word כנגדו is that whenever one confronts someone of equal power, moral and ethical weight, such a confrontation is termed נגד. It is a head-on collision of will. When the two parties disagreeing are not of equal power, or moral/ethical weight, the confrontation is termed as one being עולה or יורד one of the adversaries either prevailing or losing in such an encounter. It is in this sense that we have to understand such statements as משה שקול כנגד כל ישראל, “that Moses was the equal of the entire Jewish people.” (Mechilta Yitro 1) However, the Torah did not mean for woman to be 100% equal to man, else how could the man expect her to perform household chores for him, etc.? Hence the letter כ at the beginning of the word כנגדו somewhat tones down this equality.

Faith Lectures – Creation: Where Did We Come From?

Chief Rabbi Sack’s lecture series on Faith, chaired by Jodie Cohen

RABBI SACKS: "...He was saying that God is our-to use that lovely American phrase-our significant Other. And we are His. And this now raises an extraordinary possibility. (Just bear with me for a few more minutes: I’m getting there.) What I want to say now-forgive me if I am wrong: I hope I am not wrong-it allows the following remarkable possibility: that we can now go back and re-read Bereish*t chapter 2, the story of Adam and Eve not simply as we have read it until now, as everyone has read it until now, a commentary on the first human being-but as, actually, an oblique commentary on the act of creation itself. That although God is explicitly talking about Adam, He is actually talking about Himself.

This then is the radical possibility. You remember God says “I will make man an ezer kenegdo”? The rabbis, who had a very fine ear for nuance, understood that this is a ‘contradiction in terms’.

An ezer is somebody who helps you, and kenegdo is somebody who opposes you, i.e. I will make man somebody who, on the one hand is a partner but on the other is capable of opposing him.

Now what more precise definition is there of the Jewish understanding of the relationship between God and humanity than that? We are God’s ezer kenegdo. On the one hand, as the rabbis said, we are His shutaf bema’aseh breish*t, His partner, His helper, in the work of creation. On the other hand, we are the only beings in all of creation who are capable of being kenegdo, of rebelling against God. Ezer kenegdo does not merely describe Eve’s relationship to Adam: it describes humanity’s relationship to God.

This then creates the incredible possibility that I want to stay with you, because if I’m wrong, forgive me, that the words of God lo tov heyot ha’adam levado, “It is not good for man to be alone,” are the nearest we get to God’s commentary on His own being, and to that ultimate question which haunts us all, which is: Why did God create the universe?

As long as we think of God in classic philosophical terms, that line makes no sense at all. If God is omniscient, omnipotent, platonic, Aristotelian-it is impossible to comprehend that God should lack anything. Indeed, as Maimonides says at the beginning of the Mishneh Torah, and as Aquinas and all the other theologians say, imagine the whole universe did not exist-God would not have been changed. No difference to Him. Take away the universe, you do not take anything away from God..."

Works Cited

1. Commentary of Ibn Ezra on Bereish*t 2:18

2. Commentary of Radak on Bereish*t 2:18

3. Commentary of Ramban on Bereish*t 2:18

4. Commentary of Rashi on Bereish*t 2:18

5. Commentary of Sforno on Bereish*t 2:18

6. Sacks, Rabbi Lord Jonathan, "Faith Lectures – Creation: Where Did We Come From?" The Office of Rabbi Sacks. 6 February 2001. 30 April 2019. <http://rabbisacks.org/faith-lectures-creation-where-did-we-come-from/>

7. Sefer Bereish*t, Perek 1: 26-31

8. Sefer Bereish*t, Perek 2: 15-24

Ezer Kenegdo
 | Sefaria (2024)
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