Male and Female, He Created It-Them
Gratitude and Lovingkindness
Modeh Ani L’fanecha – we began the morning with the morning prayer of gratitude and some centering breath. This was followed by reflections on the sefirah of Hesed – the flow of love and giving. Then personal check-ins, and we were fully present.
Lamed – Bet: The Heart of Torah
We decided that rather than carrying on directly with our inquiry into the lives and relationship of Abram and Sarai, we would instead backtrack to study today’s parsha of B’reysheet, and particularly the verses describing the creation of man and woman, in order to deepen our understanding of the deeper archetypes that may be reflected in the lives of our first forefather and foremother.
Recognizing that it is Simchat Torah, we read the last verse of Deuteronomy followed by the first verse of B’raysheet. The last letter of Torah, Lamed, added to the first letter of Torah, Bet, spells the word Lev, heart – an appreciation of torah as the heart of our people. Throughout the Torah we read of the struggles of Moshe and the people, travelling through wilderness, facing internal and external obstacles, all with the goal of reaching the Promised Land. And at the end of Torah they stand on the plains of Moav, on the brink of entry into Israel. And then . . . it all begins again, all over. How profound a life teaching this is, that at the moment of arrival, at the point of achieving our goals, we never actually enter the Promised Land. It all back on itself and we begin a new cycle from the beginning. And the heart continues to pump, as we spiral further and deeper into our lives.
Our tradition teaches us that creation occurred through speech, through the use of the Hebrew letters. B’reysheet begins with the letter Bet. We understand from this that the events of Creation described in the first chapter of Genesis are not taking place in this physical world, but in the World of B’riyah, the world of Creation, conceptualization. The Bet also carries the value of 2, indicating that this universe was created beginning with the concept of 2: dualism, opposites, diversity. This raises the question: where is the Aleph? Why does the Torah not begin with the first letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet? The Aleph, silent, unity, lies before the Bet, before the world of B’riyah, before speech, in the World of Atzilut, Emanation, Primordial Thought, a world not accessible to us as human beings. Thus, from Aleph flows Bet, the first act of Creation, the first letter of Torah, the letter that puts it all into motion.
Genesis 1:26. God created the Earthling
On the sixth day of Creation, God created Adam, most often translated as Man. But we know that this was not “man”, as opposed to “woman”. This was The Adam, primordial human. Perhaps the term “Earthling” would be a better translation? The Midrash teaches us that this was an androgenous Being, containing both male and female halves, joined at the spine, facing away from each other. Adam was clearly not a single male human, as the Hebrew goes on to say “They shall rule over the fish . . . birds . . . animals . . . earth.”
1:27: He created it, male and female He created them.
Usually translated into English as “he created him”, perhaps the origin of philosophies of male superiority, sexism, etc, the Hebrew object pronoun can also indicate the neutral – it. We might instead interpret He created “Humanity (it)”. And “It” was male and female both, Them. Again, with the language of It-them, the concept of multiplicity-unity, and we remember that what is being described is happening in B’riyah, not in the world of physical reality. The verb used here for creation is Barah – “He Barah’d it/them”. So this is describing the conceptualization of the essential nature of the Human as containing equal parts of maleness and femaleness, what Jung would later label anima/animus, and new age teachers would call our Inner Feminine/Masculine. We are them – it.
Genesis 2:6. A mist/flow ascended from the land
An interesting image: mist, or in one translation, a flow ascending from the dry land. Moisture from below to water the dryness of earth to allow the next step, the formation of Man.
Genesis 2:7. And God formed the Human of Dust
The verb used here – Yotzer, to form – let’s us know we have now moved down into the World of Y’tzirah, the World of Formation. Still not in physical reality, but getting closer, more substance, as the Man of Dust is shaped from the clay of the Earth (Adamah) by Yah Elohim (the first use of the YHVH in the Torah). Removing one letter from Adamah forms Adam, He then breathed the living soul (Nishmat Hayim) into the nostrils of Adam – like a wet kiss – breathing to life the first human formed from the clay of the 2 primal elements, Earth and Water.
2:19. The Souls of the Chayot
Adam names each of the living creatures – animals of the field, birds, etc – reflecting the essence of their being in each name. We also read here that HaShem-Elohim had formed (yotzer) each living being out of the Adamah and instilled it with a Nefesh Chayah, just as he had done for Adam. This answered a question posed earlier: do only humans have the breath of the divine within them? Clearly our mythology tells us this is not the case, that every living being has a soul.
2:18 – 2:25: Woman: Ezer K’negdo
We read in 2:18 of God’s decision to divide the hermaphroditic Adam into separate male and female beings. This may now be moving into Assiyah, the World of Physicality, as Torah uses the verb Aseh in this verse – “I will make . . . “ So the male-female Adam is cast into a deep sleep and divided, removing the side, replacing it with flesh, forming Woman to correspond to Man, the words Ish and Ishah now appearing for the first time to describe these beings. We note that the word Isha (woman) is Ish (man) with the letter hey at the end, bringing us back to Abram and Sarai, both of whom had the Hey added to their names to signify their moving to a holier level. The purpose of this split into 2 is to form an Ezer K’negdo – a helper opposite/against him – for the Adam. This describes the role of couples for each other – each to form a container, a helper, a struggle-mate for the other.
Next meeting: Saturday November 13 (24 Tishri), 10 AM – noon, location to be named.