How wonderful to begin the annual cycle of reading the Torah once again. The stories of Genesis are very familiar to us—or so we think. Unfortunately, many of us learned the stories as children and there our knowledge and understanding remained—with the sophistication of a 10 year old, maybe 13, but never maturing, never growing in sophistication, never appreciating the nuances, psychology and depth that could actually occupy a lifetime of study. I am always fascinated at how many different translations of the same Hebrew there may be and how the translations may be governed by the particular outlook or even agenda of the person writing the translation. Think of the power that an editor has over individuals who are dependent on them for translation. Think of the power that a reader has if they can read in the Hebrew and can either translate it themselves or have the skill to look up translations themselves.
I am also fascinated by the ability of scholars in every generation to find new understandings, new interpretations and new perspectives making our Torah extremely and always relevant.
Case in point: This Shabbat, Rabbi Aaron Bergman will be examining the relationship of the first husband and wife in history (or were they just living together?) and how their own relationship may have impacted their sons Cain and Abel. What did Cain and Abel experience growing up as part of Addam’s family?
God refers to Eve, not as woman (that is the word that Adam uses), but as Ezer K’negdo, a “helper against himself.” Genesis 2:18. Considering the implications of that nuanced verbiage, no wonder we must be passionate learners and recognize that how we learn the creation story as children is much different than how we learn it as adults. Can you imagine that some people are surprised to learn that Eve was Adam’s second wife after a horribly failed marriage? They might be if their Torah study ended with their bar mitzvah. What was the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden again? What was the forbidden fruit? What did Aristotle think it was? Plato? Kant? Freud?
Take your learning to the next level. 10:00 a.m. in the Shiffman Chapel. Rabbi Bergman’s teaching is sophisticated and nuanced, but very accessible and approachable. Dare I say fun?
Looking forward to seeing you there.