Adam & Eve


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Elsewhere on the forum, quite some time ago, I had promised some words about Adam and Eve. I have been remiss in doing so. Life has a way, sometimes, of getting in the way of doing what one set out to do. So to begin, and with the aim of following up on this post in the not so distant future, let me first state that according to the Torah - Genesis 2:18 to be exact - woman was created to be man's equal. Translations that simply say "helper" or "help meet" or "help mate" completely miss the mark.

In Genesis, G-d says for Adam will be made an - עזר כנגדו- ezer k'negdo - which is an idiomatic phrase which literally means a help opposite to him, but the word ezer connotes strength and is usually used in reference to

G-d's power so that a better understanding of the term is that woman was created to be a strength equal to man. As the sages of Israel taught, woman was created from man's side to underscore that she was not meant to walk ahead of him in mastery, she was not meant to walk behind in a subservient manner. She was meant to walk at his side as his equal. The sages further taught that the term ezer k'negdo was used to teach that when a man was right, woman would be there to support him with her strength.... and when man was wrong she would be there with her strength to oppose him.

More to come. Honest!

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A brief digression before proceeding.

I am always candid if I am asked if I belief the story of Adam and Eve to be factual history. Simply put, no I do not. I am also asked, from time to time, if the author of Adam and Eve narrative meant for it to be taken literally or whether it was written as allegory or an etiological "just so" story. The scholarly answer to that question is that we do not know and we probably never will. Nor, at this time, can we say whether the redactors or the canonizers believed it to be factually accurate or something else.

What we do know is that the sages of Israel were fundamentalists, but they were not literalists. They believed in the truths that they saw being taught in Torah, but they were not tied to a belief that the narratives were factual reporting.

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Thanks RabbiO can't wait to hear to more. Want to wish you a wonderful Purim that is fast approaching?

Thank you for your holiday greetings. Purim begins Saturday night.

One more digression before I go on.

My friend, you have oft times described my ancestors of biblical times as misogynistic -- that is, they hated women. That is a bit of an overstatement. First of all, the sages of Israel taught a man without a woman was incomplete. As they put it, such a man was alone, without hope, without joy, without blessing and without atonement. Furthermore, the sages believed that without doubt women were more inately spirtual than men, and that women were probably inherently more intelligent than men. What they believed, to the detriment of women, was that men were more rational than women because women were: a) more emotional; and b) less in control of their emotions.

While it would be fair to state the male attitude toward women was paternalistic, and while that attitude might rightly be construed as sexist, misogyny is a bit over the top.

Edited by RabbiO
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One final digression.... I think!

A word about midrash. The word comes from the Hebrew word "to inquire." Midrashim are stories by the sages. There are two types, midrash aggadah and midrash halacha. The first are stories meant to fill the gaps in biblical narrative. The second are stories meant to elucidate and illuminate points of law. The fun thing about midrashim is there are often multiple midrashim dealing with the same biblical narrative and because they are conjecture they are totally at odds with one another.

I will be using a midrash or two so I thought this would be helpful.

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Thank you for your holiday greetings. Purim begins Saturday night.

One more digression before I go on.

My friend, you have oft times described my ancestors of biblical times as misogynistic -- that is, they hated women. That is a bit of an overstatement. First of all, the sages of Israel taught a man without a woman was incomplete. As they put it, such a man was alone, without hope, without joy, without blessing and without atonement. Furthermore, the sages believed that without doubt women were more inately spirtual than men, and that women were probably inherently more intelligent than men. What they believed, to the detriment of women, was that men were more rational than women because women were: a) more emotional; and b) less in control of their emotions.

While it would be fair to state the male attitude toward women was paternalistic, and while that attitude might rightly be construed as sexist, misogyny is a bit over the top.

I use the word misogynistic more in the sense that women were treated as inferior to men. Daughters were sold off to be married without any say in the manner. Women were basically raped and enslaved after their husbands were killed in ethnic clashes. Males were mentioned exclusively in the lineages and numbers of people involved in any event. If I am not mistaken Lot's daughters aren't even given names.

Lets see off the top of my head I can name Eve, Rachel, Rebecca, Sarah, Ruth, Ester, Bathsheba, Hagar and Queen of Sheba. Not a whole lot of ladies there.

The denigration of women begins from the very first day they are born. A woman becomes unclean when giving birth to another human being but if that human being happens to be a female child the women remains unclean for twice as long.

Women had to make offerings to God for uncleaness after mensturating. It's as if she was guilty against God just for being a woman.

Some of those Jews who wrote the New Testament were also ancestors of yours whose denigration of women is well documented.

Also of note is the rarity of finding a "good woman" which is rarer then finding rubies....Proverbs 31:10 "A good woman is hard to find

Edited by Fawzo
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Also of note is the rarity of finding a "good woman" which is rarer then finding rubies....Proverbs 31:10 "A good woman is hard to find

Women, it is true, were not accorded the same status as men in biblical times and even after. Your response deserves more than a one line response from me for you raise several issues. Down the line I'll try to respond in greater depth.... but first I want make it through to the end of my remarks on this thread.

One thing though, just in passing. There is nothing in Proverbs 31:10 that talks about either a good woman or rubies, rare or otherwise. What it actually speaks of is a capable woman whose value is greater than pearls.

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KJV

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

CJB

10 אWho can find a capable wife?
Her value is far beyond that of pearls.
ב 11 Her husband trusts her from his heart,
and she will prove a great asset to him.
ג 12 She works to bring him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

Amplified Bible

10 A capable, intelligent, and [b]virtuous woman—who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.

12 She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.

Neither version sounds demeaning when read in context. IMO

Thank you RabbiO for your commentary on the Adam & Eve story. Please continue.

As Rabbi Daniel Lapin says "Everyone needs a Rabbi". I thank you for filling that role here at the ULC forums.

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so far, it seems a far nicer story as you tell it. you have often mentioned that this verse or that does not say what another might think it does. is it translation that is at issue? interpretation? it seems to be. is it as simple as a jewish view versus a christian view? do reform interpret the same as orthodox? as lubuvitchers? just trying to clarify as I consider the conversation

but from what I have read of the bible, and from what I can recall, there seems a crystal clear implication that a woman is not equal to a man, and yes, unclean. at the very least, it is interpreted as such. and many point to the bible and these words to subjugate women.

(I have never read the torah, I don't read hebrew. so I have no way of experiencing it in the same way)

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so far, it seems a far nicer story as you tell it. you have often mentioned that this verse or that does not say what another might think it does. is it translation that is at issue? interpretation? it seems to be. is it as simple as a jewish view versus a christian view? do reform interpret the same as orthodox? as lubuvitchers? just trying to clarify as I consider the conversation

The sages of Israel taught that the Torah has seventy faces. Seventy is a number that stands for infinity. In other words there are often a myriad of ways to validly interpret a particular passage.

I have pointed out before that there is a midrash in the Talmud regarding a dispute between the disciples of Shammai and the disciples of Hillel regarding interpretation. The argument spanned three years without either side conceeding. Finally the argument came to an end when a voice from heaven declared,

אלו ואלו דברי אלוהים חיים

Eilu v'eilu divrai elohim chaim.

Both this and this are the words of the living G-d.

Edited by RabbiO
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On the other side of Shabbat, we'll get back into this thing, back to the tree and its fruit, back to the snake and Eve, back to just what the heck did G-d mean when Adam was told that if he ate the fruit of the tree that "dying you shall die", which is what the Hebrew literally says, and the punishment meted out to Adam and Eve. Just in passing I will remind you that the fruit of the tree did not impart knowledge as to the difference between good and evil. I have previously discussed that elsewhere on the forum.

Edited by RabbiO
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On the other side of Shabbat, we'll get back into this thing, back to the tree and its fruit, back to the snake and Eve, back to just what the heck did G-d mean when Adam was told that if he ate the fruit of the tree that "dying you shall die", which is what the Hebrew literally says, and the punishment meted out to Adam and Eve. Just in passing I will remind you that the fruit of the tree did not impart knowledge as to the difference between good and evil. I have previously discussed that elsewhere on the forum.

But of course that is just yours and one of seventy interpretations one may come up with ;)

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But of course that is just yours and one of seventy interpretations one may come up with ;)

I agree with you Fawzo! :derisive:

-for everything is always in the interpretation and a view from where one is sitting. A comma, a period, an exclamation mark can totally change a context or the meaning. As for the Bible--I am sure all is there, but it is in an allegorical form. Interpretation thus lies in the heart. We are each given the gift to understand from God, what we need to know and what we do with it that makes the difference. No one is more gifted than an other in understanding the "truth".The peasant woman in a village in the Andes knows as much as the Pope, though he may have all the learning, theology, philosophy behind him--but" divine truth is truth" available to all who seek it from within. The mind of God is rather difficult and that we shall never know.

blessings and peace,

Suzanne

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  • 3 weeks later...

But of course that is just yours and one of seventy interpretations one may come up with ;)

Please be mindful that Peter is talking about what THE HEBREW text says (in literal translation).

Not (yet) what those literal Hebrew words "were intended to convey".

When speaking of "just one interpretation among seventy", Fawzo, I believe you are thinking about "The Bible"...

which is NOT, I think, what RabbiO was alluding to..

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