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Bereishit 5778

Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Many people think that the stories in the Book of Genesis are children's stories or fables. However, as you will see from the following analysis of the story of Adam and Chava (Eve) by David Baum -- excerpted from his phenomenal book, The Non-Orthodox Jew's Guide to Orthodox Jews -- that there is deep wisdom in the Torah applicable to each of us. No wonder the Torah is the #1 Book ever sold!

"The Torah's account of creation sheds a great deal of light on the true nature of men and women and what they should mean to each other.

"When God originally created Adam, he was created as one being comprised of both a male and female aspect. Had nothing changed, he would have been able to reproduce by himself without a partner. Only Adam was created like that; the rest of the animal kingdom was created as males and females. Once Adam saw that all of creation had these counterparts, he desired to have one as well. And at that point, God removed half of Adam (a "side" in Hebrew, not a rib as people often mistranslate it) and using this as a base, built Chava.

"This account raises many obvious questions. Why did God not create human beings as male and female at the outset? Why did He wait until Adam desired a mate to create one for him? Why did Adam desire it? What was he missing? And once Adam desired a mate, why didn't God pair him up with one of the animals that were already created? Or create a whole new being for him? Why did He need to take part of Adam? And, why didn't He make the second being identical to the first?

"The answer to all of these questions lies in the purpose of life itself: We are here to create ourselves by emulating God in order to draw close to Him. If men and women did not need one another, we could very easily begin to feel that we are completely independent, which would lead us away from God, not towards Him. Had God left us in that state, His purpose in creation would never have been realized.

"So why did Adam desire a mate once he saw that the rest of creation lived in pairs? It's hard to imagine Adam, who was created by the hand of God and lived in Gan Eden, being jealous of a giraffe or a squirrel. No, what he saw was that all of God's creations had interactive relationships, each giving to and caring for the other, and that he was alone. To emulate God and to fulfill his purpose, he needed to be a giver, but he had no one to give to. Once he realized that, he longed for a mate.

"What was missing from the selection of animals before him that he could not find a mate? When God created man he gave him dominion over the "fish of the sea, the birds of the sky and every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen. 1:28). A relationship with a subordinate being would not be a real one; to achieve its purpose the relationship between a man and a woman must be of mutual benefit. Each party must be able to develop an emotional intimacy with the other and be able to give to the other in a substantial way. This can only be done amongst peers.

"This fact also alludes to the position of women in Jewish thought. Chava is not subordinate-why would God create a subordinate being for Adam after he had rejected all the animals for that very reason? Also, Chava was not created from his back or his foot. She was created from his side; therefore her place is at his side.

"Now that we understand why human beings need a mate, why did God not create man from the outset as two beings? Because, again, that relationship would not fulfill God's intention for us. Our free will requires that we choose our path, not have it thrust upon us. Adam had to consciously want a mate in order for him to be able to fulfill his purpose.

"So once Adam desired a mate, why did God not just create a female from the earth in the same way He had made Adam? Because the female side had already been created-it was part of Adam, who was not considered male until his female side was removed. (Before Chava's creation, the Torah actually refers to Adam in the plural.) Had another being been created anew, Adam would still have viewed himself as an entirely autonomous being and could have fallen prey to the same problems he would have had, had he stayed alone. By splitting Adam in two, God demonstrated that both men and women are incomplete and that each needs the other half in order to be whole, i.e., we are mutually dependent. This is why there are only two genders, not three or four or even more: The purpose is achieved with two.

"This knowledge of our incompleteness is fundamental to understanding life. That is why the Torah goes to lengths to describe the creation of male and female but makes no mention of skin color, hair color or height and weight-because they are not important. For the same reason, it does not describe the creation of male and female in the animal kingdom.

"Lastly, God created the female wholly unlike the male in order to force each of us to become true givers through having to be sensitive to one another's needs. If man and woman were identical, the relationship would require almost no effort and neither would be much of a giver.

"Judaism considers a single person to be incomplete: A man without a woman is only half a person and a woman without a man is only half a person. Alone, neither are able to reach the heights for which they were created. Without a good relationship with the other, neither are able to lead a full, happy life or have inner peace. The underlying truth is that each of us is one being that has been torn in half, and I mean that literally; the Torah goes out of its way to mention that God had to close up Adam's wound after taking the side of him that would form the foundation of Chava. It seems there was a gaping hole that would have killed him if not for the surgery.

"Further, the Talmud states that ever since God took the side from Adam, man has been pursuing it. Obviously we need it, which explains why a man can be lonely in a crowd and yet at peace once he has a woman in his life. A man's loneliness is not satisfied by a group of friends because God didn't create a friend for Adam, He created a mate. Without a woman, a man is always alone and always missing something, regardless of the size of the party.

"One of the most unique aspects of human relations is that we each expect to find a soul mate for life. Imagine being told by a couple that they are getting married but for only three years, and then they'll be splitting up to go their separate ways, or asking a woman to marry you for a specific number of years. Imagine responding to your friend's excited announcement of her engagement with the question, "How long do you guys plan to stay married?"

"Since marriage is basically a reattaching of a part of ourselves, our natural attitude toward it is the same we have toward any part of ourselves: We intend to keep it forever. Given the choice, each of us would always prefer to keep all of our body parts, even our tonsils and appendix. (There is no prohibition of divorce in Judaism, but it is supposed to be an option of last resort. It is a tragedy when a family breaks up and so the option of divorce is usually exercised only in really unsustainable situations.)

"Animals, however, do not share this attitude because their males and females were created separately, as separate beings. They were not created originally as one and then divided. For them, mating is simply a way to perpetuate the species, nothing more. They do not find lifelong relationships; they find breeding partners."


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Torah Portion of the week

Beraishis, Genesis 1:1 - 6:8

The Five Books of Moses begin with the Six Days of Creation, the Shabbat, the story of the Garden of Eden -- the first transgression, consequences and expulsion; Cain & Abel, the ten generations to Noah, the Almighty sees the wickedness of man in that generation and decrees to "blot out man" (i.e. the flood).

One of the most profound verses in the whole Torah is "And God created man in His own Image." Since God does not have a physical being, this means that we are endowed with free will, morality, reason and the ability to emulate God Who bestows kindness. Also, if we really appreciate that we are created in the image of God, we realize that we have intrinsic worth. Therefore, there is no need to be depressed wondering if you have intrinsic worth!


Candle Lighting Times

October 13
(or go to

Jerusalem 5:34
Guatemala 5:25 - Hong Kong 5:42 - Honolulu 5:50
J'Burg 5:56 - London 5:53 - Los Angeles 6:03
Melbourne 7:17 - Mexico City 6:57 - Miami 6:37
New York 6:00 - Singapore 6:35 - Toronto 6:19

Quote of the Week

Real men don't love the most
beautiful woman in the world --
they love the woman who can make
their world the most beautiful!



In Memory of
Jerry Hahn

with love, Lynn

Happy Anniversary
Alexander & Anita Ray

With Love,
Papa and Mom

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