Monday, July 25, 2022

Judaism on One Leg: What is Man/Woman/ Human Part 1


Judaism on One Leg: What is Man/Woman/ Human Part 1

For the video discussion follow the link:

Lesson Four- What is Man/ Woman/ Human Part 1

 Betselem Elohim July 23 2022

Essentially- we believe in the human being!


Question from last week- on creation, six days, Adam on the 6th.What do we make of it?

Midrash Rabbah on sense of time in creation:

Rabbi Judah bar Simon said: it does not say, ‘Let there be evening,’ but ‘And it was evening.’ Hence we derive that there was a time-system prior to this. Rabbi Abbahu said: This teaches us that God created worlds and destroyed them, saying, ‘This one pleases me; those did not please me.’Bereshit Rabbah 3:7


In his commentary on the Torah, Rabbi Bahya ben Asher (11th century, Spain) concludes that there were many time systems occurring in the universe long before the spans of history that man is familiar with. Based on the Kabbalah he calculates that the Earth is billions of years old.


Maimonides Guide to the Perplexed: Bk II :19



Charles Darwin was excited to report:


 "even an essay in Hebrew has appeared on it, showing that the theory is contained in the Old Testament!".

(1876, Naphtali Lew

y sent Darwin a copy of his book, Toldot Adam, and a covering letter, both in Hebrew. As Darwin could not read Hebrew, he asked Henry Bradshaw, librarian at Cambridge University, to have the letter translated)




Before we can understand what is man/mankind/humanity in Bible—


What was it among our neighbors:



Enuma Elish- Babylonian creation story- after battle of the gods against the monster, Tiamat( Hebrew=Tehom), Marduk sets about new project:

Tablet VI

1 When Marduk heard the gods' speech…4 He counsels that which he had pondered in his heart,
5 "I will bring together blood to form bone, 6 I will bring into being Lullû, whose name shall be 'man'. 7 I will create Lullû—man 8 On whom the toil of the gods will be laid that they may rest.

Out of the vanquished monsters:

13 "Let one brother of theirs be given up.14 Let him perish that people may be fashioned.
15 Let the great gods assemble 16 And let the guilty one be given up that they may be confirmed."

29 "Qingu is the one who instigated warfare, 30 Who made Tia-mat rebel and set battle in motion."
31 They bound him, holding him before Ea, 32 They inflicted the penalty on him and severed his blood-vessels. 33 From his blood he (Ea) created mankind,
34 On whom he imposed the service of the gods, and set the gods free.
129 On the peoples that he created, the living beings,
130 He imposed the service of the gods and they took rest.

Contrast with last act of creation: Shavat vayinafash—but not demon blood, no man as slave to the gods


The Greek version:

The Creation of Humans in Greek Mythology

Prometheus created man out of earth (mud), and the goddess Athena breathed life into his creation. [similar here to Gen 2]


Epimetheus[ to supply qualities] had already given all the good skills and qualities to other creatures, and nothing was left for man. Consequently, Prometheus made man stand upright—as only the gods had done[divine image]—and gave him fire.[ These two human traits are against the gods orders, therefore, he is chained to a rock and liver torn out by eagle every day]


What about Woman?

The punishment that Zeus inflicted on man was to create Pandora (with the help of the god Hephaestus), the first woman. He gave Pandora a jar as a gift and told her that she was not allowed to open it. The jar was full of misfortune, disease, and plagues, but at the bottom there was also hope.(interpreted by Greek commentators as a crude joke, that hope, too, is a demon)


[The ancient Greeks were master cynics!]



Now, you can put the Biblical account of creation of human in totally new  perspective:

Gen 1;26

Not out of chaos, not out of the body of a vanquished demon

 כו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל-הָאָרֶץ וּבְכָל-הָרֶמֶשׂ הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל-הָאָרֶץ

 כז וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ  זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בָּרָא אֹתָם

 כח וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם אֱלֹהִים פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁהָ וּרְדוּ בִּדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבְכָל-חַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת עַל-הָאָרֶץ


And God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.”And God created humankind in the divine image, creating it in the image of God— creating them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them: Bear fruit and be many and fill the earth and subdue it!
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, and all living things that crawl about on the earth!.

Or version 2: Ch 2:A personal act, different from the creation of all other living creatures

 ז וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה

And YHWH God formed the human, of dust from the ground; He blew into his nostrils the breath of life and the human became a living being.[not delegated to a lesser god,as in the Greek, and not out of demons blood, as in the Babylonian]

Man must be partnered: The woman is a blessing to the man, not a punishment:

 וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים לֹא-טוֹב הֱיוֹת הָאָדָם לְבַדּוֹ אֶעֱשֶׂה-לּוֹ עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ.  

YHWH God said:
It is not good for the human to be alone;
I will make him a helper corresponding to him.

Fire-unlike the Prometheus myth- in the Midrash- a gift from God to man to make ( Gen Rabbah 11:1):Man is afraid of the dark after he has sinned. God strikes two stones together to show how to make fire and overcome his fear.

The human as “ tselem”-an image, a reflection, a silhouette, of God:

Let us make humankind, in our image, according to our likeness!( Les majeste-the royal we)

בצלמנו. בִּדְפוּס שֶׁלָּנוּ      : כדמותנו . לְהָבִין וּלְהַשְׂכִּיל:

In our pattern, with the ability to understand and reason.( Rashi)

AND G-D SAID: ‘LET US MAKE MAN.’ There was a special command dedicated to the making of man because of his great superiority since his nature is unlike that of beasts and cattle which were created with the preceding command.   … Thus man is similar both to the lower and higher beings in appearance and honor. In real likeness his body thus compares to the earth while his soul is similar to the higher beings. (Nachmanides)


The unique value of each human being

"And you shall love your neighbor as yourself": R. Akiva says: This is an all-embracing principle in the Torah. Ben Azzai says: (Bereshith 5:1) "This is the book of the generations of Adam" [This is the record of the begettings of Adam/Humankind. At the timeof God’s creating humankind, in the likeness of God did he [then] make it,] — This is an even greater principle.:Bereshit Rabbah 24:7 Lest one say that because I was accursed, let my friend be accursed with me. Rabbi Tanhuma said: If you do so, know whom you are cursing: He created him in the divine image.


  בֶּן עֲזַאי אוֹמֵר זֶה סֵפֶר תּוֹלְדֹת אָדָם, זֶה כְּלַל גָּדוֹל בַּתּוֹרָה (ויקרא יט, יח):  , רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ, זֶה כְּלַל גָּדוֹל בַּתּוֹרָה, שֶׁלֹא תֹאמַר הוֹאִיל וְנִתְבַּזֵּיתִי יִתְבַּזֶה חֲבֵרִי עִמִּי, הוֹאִיל וְנִתְקַלַּלְתִּי יִתְקַלֵּל חֲבֵרִי עִמִּי. אָמַר רַבִּי תַּנְחוּמָא אִם עָשִׂיתָ כֵּן דַּע לְמִי אַתָּה מְבַזֶּה

: בִּדְמוּת אֱלֹהִים עָשָׂה אוֹתוֹ.

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