Sunday, September 29, 2013

Parashat B'reshit, 5774/2013 edition

Basics here.

Here's a link to a previous Parashat/Parshat B'reshit/B'reishit/Bereshit (whichever) post of mine, with links to previous ones by me and other folks.

My new thoughts for this year:

  • Given the knowledge available to the ancient author(s)--I'm speaking from a non-traditional perspective--they were actually surprisingly accurate in describing the creation of the world.  The creation story that appears first in this parashah (weekly Torah reading) says that both water creatures and birds preceded humans.  Those of us who accept the theory of evolution assert that all life on earth started in the oceans, and also, that birds are the only direct living descendants of the dinosaurs.
  • I've changed my mind about Adam having been intersex (androgynous/having both male and female sex organs):  Once HaShem creates Adam as both male and female, everything HaShem says to them is in the plural.  Adam is not one intersex being, but, rather, the (first male and female of the) human race.
  • The creation story that appears second in this parashah (beginning with chapter 2, verse 4) which is, according to my husband, actually an older story derived from Babylonian mythology, is completely human-centric and not particularly concerned about the rest of creation.  It is an attempt to explain why females have painful childbirth, why, after the fact in an already-patriarchal society, women are subservient to men, why men have to work for a living, and, in passing, why the snake is one of the few land animals that has no legs.  In addition, it presents the descendants of Kayin/Cain as archetypes:  Yaval as the father of cattle herders, Yuval the father of musicians; Tuval-Kayin the father of metal smiths.  Also noteworthy is not only the fact that the now-male Adam and his wife Chavah/Eve don't become aware of their sexuality until after eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, but also the fact that they first show signs of human ingenuity thereafter, manipulating the material available to them--fig leaves--to create something original--clothing--for the first time.
  • An attempt is made at the end of the story that appears second to knit both stories together:  Shet/Seth is born and is described as a replacement for the murdered Hevel/Abel.  However, with the continuation, beginning with chapter 5, of the interrupted "evolution" story, the birth of Shet is mentioned again, but the story of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), the snake, and Kayin and Hevel simply vanish from Parashat B'reshit, never to reappear.


Blogger smoo said...

My wife had a great way of reading the part about man having dominion over women. In the post link below she shows how it doesn't mean the husband will rule but rather her emotions and passions would rule her! Enjoy

Mon Oct 07, 02:31:00 PM 2013  
Blogger smoo said...

Naomi H. Rosenblatt is the author of Wrestling with Angels has a great way of understanding the Eden story as it relates to human maturation. She describes a radically different way to view Eve than in the past. Here, it is the woman who brings knowledge and personal growth to mankind.

Also her development eliminates the concept of original sin!!

See my post below:

Mon Oct 07, 02:36:00 PM 2013  
Blogger smoo said...

Evolutionary biologists (like Richard Dawkins) show that Genesis does NOT work well with scientific analysis.
That said, it doesn't matter because Torah is about humanity's relationship with God. Genesis was not meant to be a scientific textbook but rather impart important lessons.

And what does the creation story have to tell us....? see:

Mon Oct 07, 02:44:00 PM 2013  

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