The Jewish world celebrated its New Year on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 19 and 20. By the Jewish calendar, the year 5770 began. In our tradition, Rosh HaShanah marks the day on which the world was created and the time when human beings were created. 

Ask 100 people about the Biblical account of how and when people were created, and 99 will tell you about Adam and about how Eve was created from Adam’s rib. This of course is accurate. But few know that there are two rather different accounts of Man’s creation, one in Genesis chapter one and the second in Genesis chapter two. The key differences between the two are explained clearly by the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik, the American prophet of modern Orthodox Judaism, in his 1956 article, “The Lonely Man of Faith”, published in Tradition, vol. 7, 1965. The two accounts are relevant for innovators and entrepreneurs.

The first account of mankind, Soloveichik notes, in Genesis 1, states that human beings were created in God’s image. “And God created man in his image; in his image God created man, male and female He created, and God blessed them…”. What does this mean, “in his image”? It means, the learned Rabbi says, that just as God is the Supreme Creator, so are human beings creative, just like their Creator. This first version of humanity speaks of how human beings — men and women, created together, jointly — seek to master their environment, by constantly asking the question “how?”, and come up with ideas that answer it in ways that make life better. This is the ‘feet on the ground’ aspect of innovation and entrepreneurship, whose roots are in Genesis 1. What are our needs? How can we meet them? Here, mankind is commanded “to fill the Earth and conquer it” creatively.   

But the second version of human beings’ creation is “significantly different”, Soloveichik writes. In Genesis 2, man is created by God out of the earth. Women are then created out of Man’s rib. And mankind is commanded by God not to conquer the Garden of Eden, but rather to preserve and enhance it. (In no time, we manage to mess up that mission badly). No mention is made here of God’s image. So, says Soloveichik, in this version, mankind asks metaphysical questions: Why? For what purpose? This version of mankind is “head in the clouds”, the thinkers, the questioners, the dreamers. Mankind questions everything.

Innovators and entrepreneurs fulfill both versions of mankind’s Creation. They are feet-on-the-ground innovators, creators. And they are head-in-the-clouds dreamers, questioners, who challenge every assumption and who break the rules.

Both qualities of mankind are vital if we are to endure and prevail on this earth. And both qualities are vital, if innovators and entrepreneurs are to succeed in changing the world by meeting real pressing human needs.

*This blog was inspired by a brilliant lesson led by our Rabbi, Dov Hayun, Rabbi of Moriah Synagogue, Haifa.