I cried a baby’s cry yesterday when my orderly told me that his grandfather in Padua saved fifteen Jews in his farmhouse during the war. There were five families that he hid from the Nazis for months. He and his wife fed them and cared for them even while he continued his daily farm chores. Once, even, a Nazi patrol was served lunch above while the Jewish families with their children stayed below in the subterranean cellar. Upon liberation, the families pleaded to repay this saint – Guido Stocco and his wife – but he had only one request: when they get to Israel, to please send back seeds from different trees indigenous in the promised land. He planted the seedlings on his farm and 20 years later at the reunion of the rescued with their saviours, picnicking in the shade of the strong bold trees and regaled their lives an overwhelming gratitude to G-d and Italian hero. I told my orderly that those seeds are now also planted here in Beth-El. So it goes that everything starts anew; this is the greatest of creation I know in my past year – that every day begins the world again. I never say that I’ve improved or make a better day from yesterday. Every attainment that I have reached is a bettering of myself since birth. The only means that healing means that to me now(?) and that is being on the trajectory of expansiveness in G-d’s world.
The Rabbis surely puzzle over the notion of “tzelem Elokim.” The whole point of Torah is that G-d has no image. There is no form that could contain the answer that that is what is implanted into Adam and Eve. It is eternity that human beings are created into; G-d implanted the infinite into our souls and we are infused with the Divine, imbued with the endless, when we live the Torah through mitzvot. As the Torah begins procreation there was ruach elokim merachevet mip’nei hamayim. The spirit of G-d hovers within the inchoate, so is the cell of everything from that in the path of G-d’s presence. All the words of the soul are about the blowing of the air and the wind entering us; ruach, nefesh, and neshama.
Do you ever wonder why it was so important for the snake to intercede with Chava before she ate of the tree of life? Why did the snake first direct her to the tree of knowledge of good and evil? The tree of life was permitted to Adam and Eve.
Yet what was the knowledge that they gained? How was good and evil manifest in the unfolding story? The ultimate knowledge of Torah is the knowledge of G-d – that always as much as we can, conscious is the element of growth and infants of the soul. Before the taking of the tree, they had absolute truth – their tzelem Elokim had pure knowledge – they were tam or meit. Like the word “emet,” pure knowledge of the One, the aleph or the word “tameh,” the word in reverse – “salid” – impure. So is truth either absolute purity or death? In the knowledge now of the evaluations of good and evil comes the dangerous values of strength or weakness, distinction or deception. That’s why the word “nachash” comes from the word “menachesh,” to guess, and confused in contradistinction to “da’at,” knowledge of G-d. The infinite knowledge can see the separation. Even of twilight nothing is blurred in the realm of knowledge, but our value systems are employed – the yetzer tov and the yetzer rah approximate life at best. If now Adam and Eve eat from the tree of eternal life in a confused state, mankind will be doomed eternally. Our human task is to return to the knowledge and truth of being through G-d’s gift of Torah. This is Jewish study until the redemption.
Adam and Eve suddenly judged their exposed bodies and realized a shame of nakedness, therefore they tried to hide. G-d’s “ayeka,” “where are you?”, becomes clear. Where are you thinking you can hide from truth?, G-d asks. Which reality will we follow – our limitations and perceptions or G-d’s universal insights? So, G-d chose us to travel in His image. This is the story that happened on Shabbat. On Shabbat, we are all given an extra soul, a neshama yeteira, to stroll in the breeze of the garden every week; to return to the image of an even higher garden of eden in the world-to-come. The image of G-d is walking in to the breath of G-d inside us.
The word “gan eden” too can be reworded: you can have two important words out of the letters “na’a” which means motion, movement, and travel, and also the word “neged,” the word of reflection of seeing the soul in the other that you see – you find yourself inside the intimacy of the other that you love. This, of course, is each person’s paradise. Another combination of letters are the words “da’ah,” knowledge, which is knowledge of G-d, and the letters nun gimmel nun, which means niggun. We all must have our song that’s developed a melody through our life that emotionally finds us to the Almighty.
Adam birthed Eve it seems from a rib that G-d took from man. Ribs protect the lungs and the heart. These second pumps of involuntary motion that course through our bodies, lives. These are the physical and spiritual presentations of each human being. Chava (life) receives the ruach Elokim directly. G-d had to touch Adam’s nose and mouth to blow in His divinity. That’s why it can be considered that Chava is the “me’od,” the veryness, of Adam. Aleph daled mem – that is Adam, versus mem aleph daled – that is me’od, the abstraction and spirit of the life force which is the soul in its purest light. Chava owns the hidden and that is why I believe women light the Shabbat candles to begin the holy Sabbath within the home. It is the sacred partnership of husband with wife and wife with husband. Children are their additional candles to the sacred two. Shabbat Shalom.