Posting early today – have the sheer joy of having my hubby home for two whole days! If you haven’t had time to read the last post you should go back and catch up!!
The Dark Side of Paradise
My paraphrase of the first paragraph of this chapter: The good guy isn’t always who the story is about. Later on we will get to Cain and Abel. The story wasn’t really about Abel. It was about the bad guy, Cain.
“Who are the main characters in the story of the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden? Our first impulse is to point to Adam and Eve. But maybe the story is about someone else, too – the snake. He’s not a very popular being, certainly not a hero, but perhaps the story is about him almost as much as it is about us.”
I am rife with questions at these statements. Why would you even focus any amount of time on the snake? Bad snake: bad, bad snake. Now that I understand Jewish thought on the snake (thanks to the author) I can more fully understand (going deeper?) where this chapter went without having an apoplectic fit. Bear in mind this book was written by Rabbi Fohrman, who is a resident scholar at the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah studies and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University where he teaches Biblical Themes. He also teaches for Yeshivat Sha’alvim and Yeshiva University’s Gruss Kollel in Jerusalem among other things. Need I say more? By the way I am anxiously awaiting word from him on a new project he is thinking of.
The back flap of the book cover says; “You will gain an experience in the richness and depth of Torah, and a profound confrontation with concepts that define the core of what it means to be a person. For these are not stories, but rather paths to a fuller, more meaningful life.” The key phrase for me and what ultimately I am getting out of this is exactly the statement above: concepts that define the core of what it means to be a person. (and I might add all that entails good and/or bad)
Back to the Dark Side of Paradise.
“From the text of the Torah, what do we know about the snake? Well, for starters, he talks – not very snake-like at all. And to make matters worse, we’re not even supposed to be surprised that he talks.”
Skipping ahead a few paragraphs:
“The snake walks. The snake talks. He likes good food. He is intelligent. What does he remind you of?”
I would guess you could fill in a few of the blanks of the missing paragraphs above. But I’ll bet not all. And in these missing (from this post) paragraphs is a logical list of questions that most of us probably haven’t asked. Many of these questions cause you to truly ask the last question “what, in the end, makes him a snake………?”
The Hebrew words for what the snake actually says to Eve are translated to make sense to us in English. ….”the basic, literal translation of these words is quite strange, to say the least.” Well, of course that takes me to a new level of wonder, as Hebrew always does!
“But there’s no reason to philosophize about it. The text itself reveals to us whether the snake was lying or telling the truth.”
Now at this point I am huffing up a little bit. What do you mean? Of course he was lying. No wonder people discard the Torah. No wonder people say it doesn’t matter what it says – English is understandable. Well folks, hang onto your hat. You are in for some thought provoking in the next post, which may be a couple of days away. Don’t go away!
Again I will remind you this book is written from the perspective of Jewish thought so if there is something at this point in your read that really bothers you, well I guess I would suggest you sidetrack and do some reading to help get your mind in a place of some semblance of understanding Jewish thought and the Hebrew language. Having had the luxury of having some actual time with my husband last night, we were able to dialogue this question. Why do I understand this and what would God have me do because I do? Part of the answer to that question actually came the day before as I went about my daily routine and went to the post office to pick up my mail. An hour and a half later I get to leave the post office. LOL! But I digress, sorry.
“Ask ten people on the street for a one-sentence definition of God. You’ll probably hear that God is All-powerful. That God is All-knowing. That God is One. That God is the Creator. Would anyone tell you that being God is “knowing good and evil”?
Tomorrow Chapter Four: The Naked Truth
You may buy the book here.