In Parshat Ki Teitzei the Torah tells us the prohibitory mitzvah that a woman should not wear a man’s clothing nor should a man wear a woman’s clothing. Reb Nosson gives us some insight into the deeper meaning of this mitzvah.
A man and his garments represent emet, truth. A woman and her garments represent emuna, faith. Before Adam and Chava ate from the etz hadaat, the tree of knowledge, they did not need to wear clothing. Emet and emuna were one. They did not need to have boundaries between them. They were a unified expression of our connection to Godliness as well as our perception of Godliness. But Adam and Chava were expelled from the Garden and no longer are truth and faith one.
Rashi explains that if we exchange men and women’s clothing this leads to immorality. What does this mean at a deeper level? It means that when we mix up truth and faith and get confused about how they operate it will make us vulnerable to the arguments of the sitra achra, the other side. We’ll be so confused that this will lead us to exchange truth for falsehood, and faith in the one God for false faiths.
Man represents truth. How we arrive at truth is through knowledge, facts, understanding. Woman represents faith. When we reach the outside boundaries of what our minds can understand with facts, faith takes over. (That’s why we say “take a leap of faith”, and why women are known for “women’s intuition.”
Emet can more readily be achieved through an intellectual process. Emuna is generally achieved through a feeling in the heart. Truth and faith are necessary and valuable achievements for both men and women. In the world we live in, these reside on different planes. A person has to be careful to not take on faith when it’s possible to understand something through the (intellectual) search for truth.
We must guard both truth and faith. Rebbe Nachman warns us to not learn secular philosophies. If we learn them, they are eventually going to lead to a shutting down of faith. Secular philosophies pose impossible questions as if these questions can find solutions that are intellectual. These questions are at the boundary and require us to move outside the boundaries of the intellect and shift into faith.
Also, one must not, on the other hand, embrace faith when he can understand something through truth. When you can understand something through truth, you don’t need to move into faith. How can we know for sure when emet is required or emuna is required? We can begin by asking Hashem to help us discern, to connect us to teachers who can help us, to strengthen our connection to the Tzaddik emet and his clarifying teachings.
May you have a day in which you know when to embrace emet or emuna.
Based on Rebbe Nachman’s Torah, Ki Teitzei