Search This Blog

Thursday, February 14, 2013

And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, and let it be a separation between water and water."
--  Gen. 1:6

The book of Genesis describes the creation process as a series of separations: light from darkness, Earth from the heavens, day from night, the various life forms and humans from other life forms.  However, the final separation did not occur until after the creation.  That was the separation of humanity from God.

From the perspective of metaphysics, there are aspects of Torah that cannot be revealed in terms of simple language.  The Sages tell us "The Torah speaks according to the language of man", that is to say, expressions, which can easily be comprehended and understood by all, are applied to the Creator.  In addition, Maimonides asserts, "For this reason the prophets treat these subjects in figures, and our Sages, imitating the method of Scripture, speak of them in metaphors and allegories; because there is a close affinity between these subjects and metaphysics, and indeed they form part of its mysteries."

The separation of humanity from God began with the first commandment given exclusively to humans.  When God told humans "you shall have dominion", humans were separated from the rest of creation.  Then humans acquired speech.  Speech is the necessary component of intelligence.  When humans were tasked to name the animals, they obtained the capacity for choice.  Choice is required for creativity.

In an earlier post {12/25/13), I referred to Maimonides' attributes of God.  Three of the six were intelligent, creates and governs.  If you compare them to the ones that we just identified with humans, this raises an interesting question.  Is this what was meant when Gen. 1:27 states, "God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them"?

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  As a result, a barrier is placed between them and God (the cherubim with the flaming sword).

After the creation of Adam and Eve, we are told, "Now they were both naked, the man and his wife, but they were not ashamed." (Gen. 2:25)   After they ate the fruit we find, "And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves and made themselves girdles." (Gen. 3:7).  Historically, this has been interpreted as a tale relating sexuality and sin.  I beg to differ with this opinion.  This literal interpretation contradicts the creation story itself.

 I will follow the guidance of Maimonides and the Sages and view the creation story as allegorical, containing profound wisdom for those who seek it.  The references to "nakedness" cannot apply to sexuality as a sin.  At the time of the creation, before the Tree of Knowledge incident, God commanded Adam and Eve (humanity) to "be fruitful and multiply".  Nakedness can have another connotation: to be exposed.  That is, they had become aware of themselves.  In Freudian terms, they had acquired an ego. When combined with intelligence and creativity, self-awareness / ego provide us with the capacity to separate ourselves from the world beyond ourselves (i.e. the observed) and become an observer.

However, as Kabbalah teaches, anything positive, taken to an extreme, becomes a negative.  The negative of self-awareness is narcissism and idolatry.  Then we become so self-engaged that we see everything as an extension of ourselves.  We cease to be an observer.  We create a barrier between ourselves and the acquisition of knowledge of God.  As Maimonides asserted, "we can only obtain a knowledge of Him through His works".


Original content copyright © Secular Kabbalist


No comments:

Post a Comment