Friday, October 24, 2008

Bereshit - Back to the Beginning

Happy Friday, my friends! I hope that you had a good week, and that you are nearing the end of the work-week. Doesn't Shabbat, the day of rest, the weekend, always come at just the right time?

Tonight, we Jews have returned back to the beginning of the entire Torah. We finished reading the whole Five Books of Moses, the very end of Deuteronomy, last week during the holiday of Simchat Torah, and now we find ourselves ALL THE WAY back at the beginning, Genesis, Chapter One, Verse One.

My dear friend, Andi, has posted a beautiful post about reading the beginning of Genesis. I hope you will stop by and give it a read.

I will be leading services tonight (as I often do), and I am going to be speaking about one of my favorite characters, Lilith. Who is Lilith? She is the answer to the fact that there are TWO creation stories in the Torah.

There's this one: (Genesis 1:27): And God created man in God’s own image, in the image of God created him; male and female God created them.

Then there's this one: (Genesis 2:21-25): And the ETERNAL God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the place with flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the ETERNAL God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And the man said: 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

How do we reconcile these very different accounts of how humans were created (at least, as far as the story goes....don't get me started on creationism......)? Biblical Scholars just recognize that there are two texts, reflecting two different traditions, and they were edited together.

The rabbis of long ago, though, tried to make it one narrative - they brought in the character of Lilith: Adam's First Wife.

However, since she was created at the same time as Adam (in Genesis 1), she DARED (how could she?? Oy....) to think that she was equal to Adam. She was therefore banished from the Garden of Eden, and relegated to demon status from then on. The rabbis then state that Eve was the better choice of wife for Adam, because she knew that Adam was her master. Can you believe this?

So, gals, let's all live as proud descendants of Lilith - we can be equal, too!! Just as the creators of Lilith Magazine and Lilith Fair did, we can reclaim her as a proud feminine role model.

Shabbat shalom!

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