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The Cherubs' Secret: How to Read the Biblical Creation Story
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We're going to pick up now, this is part 2, if you missed part 1 and have an interest in seeing it, you can find it, I believe, in the archive section at alephbeta.org, and you can pick it up there. But we were talking about a number of questions last week; specifically we were talking about the two creation stories which, for the purpose of simplicity tonight I'll be calling creation 1 and creation 2. Generally when I'm talking about creation 1 I'm talking about the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, and when I'm talking about creation 2 I'm talking about the repeat of the story of creation that begins about verse 4 or so in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis.
I mentioned to you last week that historically Biblical criticism, which is the Wellhausen school of Biblical criticism, the notion that the Bible is not the product of a single author G-d, but is the product of a number of different human authors and thrown together by a redactor. That that theory - initially popularized by Wellhausen - comes from or originally came from these two stories in Genesis; Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, and they seem like two different stories that provide radically different accounts of creation. What we began to do last week is to look at these stories and suggest that they are related to each other in very intricate and elegant ways. That they don't seem to be the kind of thing that was slapped together by one author happened to say this and then another author had an entirely different view and happened to say that. They are very, very closely coordinated with each other, even as they say different things.
I began to suggest a theory that I want to elaborate a little bit more with you. So the game plan tonight is I'm just going to elaborate the theory a little bit more, then I'm going to take a little bit of a closer look at creation 2, and then we're going to take a more significant look at creation 1.
But again to the theory; the theory is an elaboration of Rabbi Soloveitchik's theory that I mentioned to you last week. Rabbi Soloveitchik in his article Lonely Man of Faith, or his book - I think his book; Lonely Man of Faith - makes the argument that the reason why there are two creation stories, so to speak, is because there are two views of man that the Torah is giving us, and these two views of man are equally valid. The Torah is describing two kinds of - two ways of [unclear 3:28] - both are true and each is at war with the other and you can't understand what it means to be human without understanding that dialectic, without understanding how these two ways of thinking about a human being struggle with one another. The literary device that the Torah uses to describe that is creation 1 and creation 2.
Last week I began to suggest what I might call an elaboration or maybe a little bit of a different spin on Rabbi Soloveitchik's theory. The question I asked you is if in fact Rabbi Soloveitchik is right, in Lonely Man of Faith, that the Torah is trying to give you two views of man, so why tell us two views of creation? Why go through two whole creation stories? Just go through two creation of man stories. The answer that we began to suggest was that if Rabbi Soloveitchik is right, it may well be that the reason why there are two views of man is because something larger is going on. There are two competing views of creation, both of which are valid, but there's two different ways of looking at creation, and the creation of man is a subset of each. So depending upon how you look at creation you will have a different view of man. If you look at creation the way creation 1 looks at creation, man will look a certain way. If you look at creation the way creation 2 looks at creation, man will look a different way.
The idea behind all of this is again, the question of genre. Last week I suggested to you that before you read any book you have to understand the genre. The theory I suggested to you is that the genre of the Torah is guidebook and it's seeking to guide human beings in how to live their lives, in how to live - guide a nation and individuals within that nation as to how to develop relationships with each other, with G-d and with those around them. That's what the Book is about.
Because of that the Book will deal with a lot of things; it will deal with history, it will deal with a little bit of science, it will deal with philosophy, it will deal with a lot of things, but it's always going to deal with things from a certain perspective, from the perspective of guidebook. Which is to say it's not interested in history per se, history as an end in and of itself, it's not interested in science as an end in and of itself, it's not interested in philosophy as an end in and of itself, the only thing it's really interested in is - as the word Torah suggests, Hora'ah - it's interested in guiding you. That's the only thing it's interested in. So it's going to use all of these disciplines for the purpose of guidance and it's going to give you a guidebook's perspective on all of these disciplines.
By the way, let me just say something - let me just elaborate on that a little bit. In order to do that the guidebook may have decided - the Torah may have decided - that the best way to describe - that it's important to talk about creation for you. The reason why it's important to talk about creation is because one of the most basic things that you need to do for man if you want to guide mankind, is they have to have some sort of understanding - the people need to have some sort of understanding - of what they're doing in the world, of what they're doing in th universe, of what they're doing in the cosmos. The most basic story you can tell them then is a creation story that gives them some sense - that gives humans some sense - of what they're doing here, of what their relationship to everything around them is.
If you would say to some extent that the question of what the meaning of life is, is the question of what am I doing in the universe, so one of the ways you would begin to deal with meaning of life is to try to understand your place in the universe and therefore the creation story is going to be a very, very important story. But it's going to be the way the Torah decides to tell you about the creation story. Again, because the Torah's interest is neither science nor philosophy nor history, but some sense of guidance as to what your place in the universe means.
Now, here's the interesting part - and this I where I plan to take you next week and kind of the week after that - but here is the kind of theoretical ground that I'm going to be working with here. What if you were a scientist and what if you were still to say - what if you were interested in the scientific account of creation? And you said the following thing. Fine, so the Torah is a guidebook, but the fact is it's still talking about creation, it is still talking about actual events that occurred in creation at some point in time. So there has to be some sort of relationship between those events that the Torah describes and what actually happened, right? I mean, it can't be that there's no relationship between them, you have to show me how you can - explain this to me, that the Torah is providing a guidebook's kind of perspective on those events, but I still should have some way of relating, of seeing, some sort of scientific basis for what the Torah is talking about. After all, we are talking about the same story, aren't we?
This is what I want to begin to talk to you about tonight and continue over the next couple of weeks. What would you say to that scientist? Fine, it's a guidebook's perspective of events, but show me something. The guidebook, does it relate to evolution, does it relate to the Big Bang, does it relate to 13.4 billion years, does it relate to the theory of relativity, quantum physics? I mean, something - is it at all related? Or is that - or if this is what happened, so does the guidebook refer to it at all?
The answer that I would give to that fellow, or the theory that I would suggest, is the following. And this is just a theory, it may be completely wrong. My personal theory, I take personal responsibility for this being wrong, it's just the way it seems to me, but I'm just going to share it with you, this is how it seems to me. It seems to me that that kind of question is kind of like going into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and going to the Impressionist room, wherever that is, and taking a look at a beautiful Renoir. So here you are, you're looking at a Renoir and you have this beautiful picture of a Parisian park plaza in 1858 and there are these women with these very fancy hats and they're chatting under these tall oak trees. And the grass is sun dappled and it's very, very beautiful.
You find yourself entranced by the picture and you think, this is a gorgeous picture and lucky for you, as you are leaving the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you have to leave through the gift shop - that's the way they work these things. In the gift shop lo and behold there is this big, blown up poster of the very Renoir that you love, so you buy one, and you perch it above your bed and that way you could always look out upon this idyllic, bucolic scene painted by Renoir.
Now, what if you wanted to say - let's analogize this - Renoir is giving you one perspective upon that scene, an Impressionist perspective of that scene, but you can imagine different perspectives upon that scene. Asking about those different perspectives is almost like querying that painting and looking for a different perspective within it. So imagine you could do the following - this could never have been possible in Renoir's day and age, but now with computer science and computer technology you can imagine that something like this could be possible.
Would it be possible to create, using some sort of 3D animated software, to be able to input Renoir's painting into a program and be able to say, Renoir is giving you a particular perspective on this - and by perspective now I just actually mean an actual point of view. Let's just say that it's a point of view of an observer looking from a 70-degree angle through this particular trees. What if I said I want to understand what that scene would like from a different angle? I don't want to be the observer perched on the hill over here, I want to be the observer sitting on the rock wall over there. I want to know what this scene looked like from the rock wall. Do you think it would be possible - might it be possible - to imagine, or to be able to take all the data from this painting and then to re-create Renoir's painting from the perspective of the observer over there at 180 degrees, on the rock wall?
You can imagine a sophisticated computer program that might actually be able to do that. So you can have a new painting above your bed, which is the new version of the Renoir - what the painting would look like if it were painted from the perspective of the guy sitting over there on that rock wall.
Might we, if were sophisticated enough, try something like that with the Torah? In other words, could we play a game - now again, don't try this at home, this is a dangerous game - but the game would look something like this. Could we say, fine Torah, you're a guidebook, I get that, I'm totally willing to accept your guidance, I'm willing to do all that, and as long as I read you as a guidebook, I'm doing what you want me to do, I'm playing your game, I'm trying to understand my place in the universe. I get all that. But what if I looked at your perspective that you're giving me in this guidebook like that Renoir? What if I then said, might it be possible for me to take what the Torah is giving me and factor out the guidebook, factor out that particular perspective of guidance, and somehow arrive at a different perspective - a perspective of these events from the rock wall? Or, a perspective of these events from the perspective of science? Would it be possible to input the data that we get from a particular perspective, the guidance perspective, and then factor out that perspective and adopt a different perspective on it, and say, given what the Torah says, here's what it would look like from the scientific perspective?
You can imagine that if you had a sophisticated enough algorithm that might at least in theory be possible to do. Okay, believe it or not that's what I actually want to try to do with you over the next couple of weeks.
But first of all what I want to do is we're going to take this slowly and the game plan is the first thing I want to do is we're going to play the Torah's game. We're going to say okay Torah, you're guiding us, we're going to adopt your perspective, how are you trying to guide us? Give me some sense of how it is that you're talking to me about creation 1 and creation 2 intending to guide me and my people as a human being? What are you trying to say?
We'll try to play that game a little bit, that game of following the Pshat of the Torah in that way, as it were. But when we're done with that we're going to try something dangerous and somewhat sophisticated. Which is we're going to try to then say, okay, all of that had very little to do with science; that had to do with what you want me to understand about my place in the universe. However, you told me about some scientific happenings over there, is there a way I can read your story again and read it from the perspective of science? Can I somehow factor out the perspective that you've given me and adopt a different perspective?
How would we do such a thing? I'll even give you a little bit of an idea of how we might do such a thing. Almost again kind of like a mathematical equation, it would go something like this. If the Torah is guiding human beings it means that at the very least we would say this, that the Torah is going to talk to us about creation from an overly anthropocentric view. Anthropocentric means man-centered. The Torah is going to adopt a very man-centered view on creation. That would make sense because the Torah is talking to men, talking to humans, about our place in the universe, so because it's talking to us and it's trying to guide us, it's telling us what we need to know about creation. The difference between that and the scientific view of creation is that the scientific view is not man-centered. The scientific view is what happened.
If you think about creation in terms of not - in a non-man-centered way you're talking about hundreds of billions of galaxies, we live in a very ordinary galaxy in the edge of some sort of super cluster, the Milky Way. We're in a very ordinary solar system, one of a hundred billion stars, within that galaxy, is on the third rock from the sun, and not such a remarkable planet. We're really very tiny and very fragile and it's not all about us - from a scientific standpoint. But if you zoom in like Google Maps into that little third rock from the sun, and put mankind at the center and then say what's your place in all of this, so I'm going to talk to you about creation from that perspective, it's going to overly dramatize man's role in this. I'm going to get an overly anthropocentric view of things.
So the idea would be could you factor that out? In other words, could you say that the Torah equals what happened as a function of how I talk to man about this; man's own particular view of things. But if I can factor out the human perspective on things, could I arrive at a scientific perspective?
This all sounds very abstract, I don't expect you to really understand what I'm talking about right now. But it will just give you a basis that when I start to do this you'll see, oh that's what he's doing. It will actually make sense to you once we start. So with no further ado let me jump in, let's - the game plan is; so here we are looking at the Torah, let's just let the Torah guide us. So Torah, what is it that you want to tell us?
The two words you have to keep in mind for this whole endeavor is what I called last week perspective shifting, it's all about shifting perspectives. The first thing the Torah does is says, you need to adopt two different perspectives simultaneously upon creation in order to really understand man. And both of them are true. The different perspectives can be summed up, I suggested to you last week, in the first three sentences of each creation story. Sentence 1 in each story corresponds to each other, sentence 2 in each story corresponds to each other, and sentence 3 in each story corresponds to each other.
Sentence 1 tells us who the creator is and what was created. Bereishis barah Elokim et ha'shamayim v'et ha'aretz, tells us - gives you the cast of players, tells you who is in the cast. There's a creator. In Bereishis barah Elokim et ha'shamayim v'et ha'aretz, who is the creator? The creator is G-d. Bereishis barah Elokim, G-d is the creator. What did He do? Barah - He created. What did He create? Bereishis barah Elokim et ha'shamayim v'et ha'aretz, He created heaven and earth. So sentence number 1 tells you three important things; it tells you who the subject is, what the verb is, and what the object is. There's a creator, the creator is G-d, what He did was create, and what He created was heaven and earth.
Interestingly, all of this gets inverted in the first sentence of creation 2. In creation 2 we have; Eileh toldos ha'shamayim veha'aretz behibaram b'yom asos Hashem Elokim eretz ve'shamayim. Eileh toldos ha'shamayim veha'aretz, if we translate it literally, again is; These are the generations of heaven and earth. So now if I ask you who was the creator now? The answer is heaven and earth. Heaven and earth are the new creators, which is mind-blowing, because it means what used to be the object in creation 1 becomes the subject in creation 2. In creation 1 G-d was the subject, G-d created heaven and earth, heaven and earth were things that were created, now heaven and earth themselves become creators. Heaven and earth - these are the generations of heaven and earth, as if heaven and earth were parents, a mother and a father, that could have children.
Eileh toldos ha'shamayim veha'aretz behibaram - as they were created, in as much as they were created. The Torah doesn't want you to forget that the heaven and earth, even according to creation 2, when we're looking at them as creators, they too were in turn created, they were created by G-d. Behibaram b'yom asos Hashem Elokim eretz ve'shamayim - on the day that G-d created heaven and earth. So we remember that they were created, but all of that is a parenthetical inclusio. The Torah is just saying yeah, remember that they were created but now forget about it. Now let's talk about them as creators.
So we're completely taking the cup and inverting it now. We're seeing it in a whole new way.
[Verse 2/Sentence 2 21:40] in each story tells you about the beginning, what did it look like before creation happened. So one way of looking at things is we said that there are three elements; Veha'aretz haytah tohu vavohu v'choshech al pnei tehom v'ruach Elokim merachephet al pnei ha'mayim. Everything was very chaotic - element number 1. Everything was very dark - element number 2. There was a lot of water everywhere - element number 3. So a lot of water, very dark, very chaotic, that's the picture of pre-creation according to Genesis 1. What's the picture of pre-creation according to Genesis 2? It's the exact inversion of this.
The picture of pre-creation is; V'kol si'ach hasadeh terem yiheye ba'aretz - before there was any vegetation in the land; V'kol eisev hasadeh terem yitzmach - and before there was any grasses; Ki lo himtir Hashem Elokim al ha'aretz - because G-d had not yet made it rain; V'adam ayin la'avod et ha'adamah - and man wasn't there to work the land. That's giving you a picture, what picture is that? So by implication the products of heaven and earth are what? Heaven and earth, their interaction is rain, their products is vegetation. So in the beginning there was just a void, what does the void look like now? No vegetation. That's why it says; Before there was any vegetation, before there was any rain. So what was there? There was just parched land. You can just imagine the sun beating down, it's exactly the inverse of the first picture. The first picture is it's too dark and there's too much water, the second picture is it's too light and there's not enough water. Do you understand? These are completely different views of things.
But from the view of heaven and earth [as 23:41] creators then it's all about water, that's the life-giving substance that heaven gives earth to start things off. And if there's no water then there's nothing. And that brings us to [verse 3/sentence 3].
Verse 3 in each story is the first glimmer of life. What is the first glimmer of life? So in story number 1 if you view G-d as the creator, and heaven and earth as objects, and then the first glimmer of life is verse 3; Vayomer Elokim yehi or. The problem was it was too dark, so the first glimmer of life is light. In world number 2, the first glimmer of life is actually the opposite. Instead of it was dark and now it's light, in world 2 is it was too light, too much sunlight, and then; V'eid ya'aleh min ha'aretz - a little bit of humidity went up from the ground, a mist went up from the ground, condensed as clouds, obscuring the sun, not quite as light anymore, Vehishkah et kol pnei ha'adamah - and came down as rain. That's the beginning of life.
What I suspect but cannot prove, is - this again is just my suspicion, and you'll see this as my bias as time is going to go on - is that one of the reasons why these two stories are opposed to one another is that they in a way are telling two different stories. Both of them are true but they're two different stories. One way to see it is a story told from the perspective of G-d as creator, the other story told from the perspective of heaven and earth as creator.
Why could there be those two perspectives? One clue might come from the question of what does the words heaven and earth mean in each story? I can't prove this but it just seems like if you're looking at story number 1 the first time heaven and earth are used what do you think the words - what do heaven and earth mean? In other words if you say; Bereishis barah Elokim et ha'shamayim v'et ha'aretz - in the beginning G-d created heaven and earth, and someone would ask you so what does that mean heaven and earth, what would you say it sort of means? What do you think it probably means? Everything, right?
In other words, heaven and earth together is the totality of everything. When you say everything you mean - what do you mean by everything? How big is everything? The universe, right? It sounds like in the beginning G-d created the universe; we're just using the words heaven and earth to describing the universe. And you're saying that in the beginning there was this cosmic void and it looked like this, and then; Vayehi or - there was the beginning of some sort of cosmic light in the universe. Story number 1 is a cosmic story.
Look at story number 2, what does heaven and earth mean in story 2? Eileh toldos ha'shamayim veha'aretz - these are the generations of heaven and earth as they were being created, and; V'kol si'ach hasadeh terem yiheye ba'aretz - there was very little vegetation because G-d hadn't made it rain yet. But then all of a sudden there was a mist that went up into the heavens and came down onto the earth as rain and that was the beginning of life. Okay, now what does heaven and earth mean? Does it mean the same thing as story 1? Seemingly not. What does heaven and earth mean now? It means the third rock from the sun. You see what happened? There's a shift already between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Genesis 1 is everything, Genesis 2 is and now let's talk about the third rock from the sun. Let's take a more terrestrial view of things. Here you are man, you are on the world, you are looking up at the sky, you're wondering what happened, let me tell you what happened.
So one way of seeing the two different stories is a cosmic story on the one hand and a terrestrial story on the other hand. In the cosmic story, who is the creator? The creator is G-d. What did He create? Heaven and earth, those are objects. Light is the beginning of everything. In the terrestrial story; Eileh toldos ha'shamayim veha'aretz behibaram - these are the generations of heaven and earth, but don't forget, who created heaven and earth? B'yom asos Hashem Elokim eretz ve'shamayim - G-d created all that. Plus, G-d is going to continue to have a role. Let's talk about G-d's role.
So let's look at story number 2 now. Seeing this perspective on story number 2 you're going to see that once you understand that this is the perspective of creation from the perspective of heaven and earth as creators - literally the Toldot Shamayim va'Aretz, everything else in the story is going to start to make sense. Let's read a little bit more of it. Next verse; the fourth verse of the story, which is actually verse 7 in the chapter. So Chapter 2, verse 7. Vayitzhar Hashem Elokim et ha'Adam aphar min ha'adamah. Look at how man is created here and look at how different it is from man's creation in story 1. Man's creation in story 2 is; And then G-d took Aphar min ha'adamah - dirt from the ground, and; Vayipach b'apav nishmat chayim - and breathed into it the breath of life; Vayehi ha'Adam l'nefesh chayah - and made man into a living thing. Vayitzhar Hashem Elokim et ha'Adam aphar min ha'adamah - G-d created man dust from the earth, blew into him breath of life, and made him into a living thing.
Okay, look how different that is from story 1. Look at story 1's description of how man was created. Story 1, Genesis 1, verse 27; Vayivrah Elokim et ha'Adam b'tzalmo, b'tzelem Elokim barah oto - G-d created man in His image, in the image of man He created them; Zachar u'nekeiva barah otom - He created them male and female. Look at how different this is. Story 2 no mention of man being created in the image of G-d, it's just not there, it's only there in story number 1. Story number 1 no mention of man being created from the earth. Story 1, male and female, how are they created, they're created together. Story number 2, first being created? Man, male. Female does not yet exist, that's going to happen later in story 2. Very strange.
But you can begin to understand it if you understand that this is a story that Shamayim and Aretz are going to tell you about creation. It's creation, so to speak, from the perspective of heaven and earth. From the perspective of heaven and earth, how was man created, what was a crucial ingredient? Earth. Notice that everything is going to come from the earth, that's why man is a Toldah of Shamayim va'Aretz. He's a Toldah of Shamayim va'Aretz because notice that something had to happen before G-d could take dirt from the ground and make man. What had to happen? The verse right before that tells you. What happened was rain came down. What did the rain do? The rain introduced an element of fertility into the earth. Until now you have dry dust, you can't make man out of dry dust, but out of clay you can make man, out of fertile earth you can make man.
So heaven and earth get together with rain, now there's soft, fertile earth, G-d then uses that - G-d midwifes this creation; it's almost like G-d is the midwife of the creation of these two parents heaven and earth - and all of a sudden you have man.
What happens next? Verse 8; Vayitah Hashem Elokim gan b'Eden mikedem. The next thing that G-d does is G-d plants a garden - notice that this is all part of story 2 not part of story 1. Of course, from heaven and earth's perspective what is - why is man significant? The great significance of man from the perspective of heaven and earth is who is man? He's the guy who tills the earth and agriculturally helps to midwife its creativity. So man is the great gardener. But how did man learn how to garden? Who was the gardener who taught man how to garden? So the very first gardener was G-d; Vayitah Hashem Elokim gan b'Eden - so G-d creates this garden, makes this garden, G-d is the first one to cultivate the earth. And when He does He places man in this special garden, this special place that He's made.
Then; Vayatzmach Hashem Elokim min ha'adamah kol eitz nechmad lemareh v'tov lema'achal. Look at verse 9, again, look at the perspective of it. It's not G-d creates trees; Vayatzmach Hashem Elokim min ha'adamah kol eitz nechmad - out of the ground G-d causes all these wonderful fertile trees to sprout. You understand? Because this is the story of the Toldot of Shamayim va'Aretz, so it wasn't just man who was created out of earth, there were trees that were created out of earth, there was vegetation that was created. V'eitz hachaim - and then there were these two special trees; the tree of life, the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Then all of a sudden we have this what appears to be a digression, but it's only a digression from your perspective; from the perspective of heaven and earth it's not a digression at all. Look at the next thing we hear about; V'nahar yotzeh m'Eden - there was a river that went out from Eden; Lehashkos et ha'gan u'misham yipareid vehaya l'arba'ah rashim - and from there the river diverged and became four headwaters. Shem ha'echad Pishon, hu hasovev et kol eretz ha'Chavilah - Pishon goes over here, that's where the gold is. And the gold over there is very good, lots of jewels over there also. So you think, why do I care about this? Who do I care - I need a geography lesson in the middle of this, that the rivers went over here and the gold is good and the jewels are wonderful? Why do I need to understand that?
The answer is, you might not need to understand that, but this is heaven and earth's story. So from the perspective of heaven and earth if life got its start through rain, how does life continue? If water is the great elixir of life, so what has to happen? At some point it's not just dependent upon rain, but water - water, rivers, is going to be what carries life through the whole earth and what makes the whole earth [fertile 34:42]. So we're going to talk rivers. So the rivers start from the garden and from there they diverge into four headwaters, and yeah, we'll talk about the gold and we'll talk about the jewels, because those are the mineral deposits in the ground. That's what makes the ground wonderful, so the ground is going to talk about itself and it's from the ground's perspective. These are the parents and they're talking - they're Kvelling - they're talking to you about their young, they're talking to you about what they've made.
What is man's role? So here's an interesting question. Let's talk about man's role in story 1 and let's talk about man's role in story 2. In Bereishit Alef - in Genesis 1, what is man doing in the world? If you would have to define what is he here to do, when do we hear it? We hear about it right after man is created, on the blessing of the sixth day. What is man told on the blessing of the sixth day? Right after we hear that man is a Tzelem Elokim; Vayivrah Elokim et ha'Adam b'tzalmo, b'tzelem Elokim barah oto, zachar u'nekeiva barah otom.
So let's go back to world 1 for a moment, let's put on our world 1 glasses. Our world 1 glasses are very different. In world 1 when you look at the creator who do you see? You see G-d. That means that spirituality itself is going to look very different in world 1 than from world 2. Because in world 2 when I look at the creator who is the first creator I see? Heaven and earth, and I see G-d behind that.
And, by the way, I would argue that if the Torah is going to talk to you about evolution, how is a guidebook that's not really interested in evolution scientifically going to talk to you about evolution? It will talk to you like world 2; everything - of course there's G-d, but there's heaven and there's earth and there's all these products and then one thing leads to another and there's this and there's that and it all flows from heaven and earth. All these different products of heaven and earth.
Anyway, when you have - if you think about spirituality in world 1 and world 2, when I look at G-d as my creator so what is spirituality? If you would have to ask man 1 what does spirituality look to you? Give it to me in just a couple words. What would man 1 say? He would say look, I don't know much, but what I do know is I'm a Tzelem Elokim - I was created in the image of G-d, my spirituality has something to do with that. And that makes perfect sense in a world where I relate to G-d as my creator.
Because you see if I relate to G-d as my creator, and I want to connect to G-d, how exactly am I going to do that? Connecting to G-d isn't so simple. Why? I can't touch G-d, I can't feel him, I can't give G-d a hug, so how exactly do I connect to G-d? So Tzelem Elokim begins to give you an idea of how you might connect to G-d. Tzelem Elokim means I am created in the image of G-d; somehow, whatever G-d is, I am a little version of that. Which seems to indicate that my goal is to somehow imitate G-d and that could be how I could relate to G-d. I might not be able to touch G-d, I might not be able to feel Him, so I can't connect to Him that way. But one way I could connect to G-d is through imitation.
And in fact, if you look at the blessing of the sixth day, that's exactly what the blessing of the sixth day seeks to suggest. Vayivrah Elokim et ha'Adam b'tzalmo, b'tzelem Elokim barah oto, zachar u'nekeiva barah otom - G-d created man in His image, He created them male and female. So you say well what does it mean to be created in the image of G-d? Well if I don't know much about G-d in world number 1 because I'm not that much of a theology student yet, at the very least what's the most basic thing I know about this G-d? Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, what has this G-d been doing? He's been creating. So G-d is the creator. I look at myself and what do I see? The last thing He created was me, and guess what; Zachar u'nekeiva barah otom - male and female He created them, which means we have the ability to create too.
I am a little creator, I can create this being that G-d created too. It's amazing. G-d invested this power of creativity with me. And even though animals have it too, me and G-d were the only sentient beings, the only one who could actually think about what we're doing and control with mind what it is we're doing and know what it is we're doing and be self-conscious about it, and create these beings. And it's amazing, it's the most amazing thing in the world.
And G-d blesses man. What does G-d say? The first thing He says is; Vayevarech otam Elokim, Vayomer lahem Elokim pru u'revu - be fruitful and multiply. Use this gift of creativity that I've given you, you are a Tzelem Elokim, you can be like Me and create like I've created. Plus, use that gift in other ways too. How?
Pru u'revu u'mile'u et ha'aretz vekivshuha - and conquer the land. U'redu b'degas hayam - you have dominion over all of the fish and over all of the fowl and over all of the animals, you can have dominion over everything, you are the king of the animal world. How does that work? How does man have dominion over the animal world?
Interestingly, the answer is by being G-d-like. You see it's really problematic if you think about it. We have dominion over the animal world, exactly how does that work? So imagine, here you are, you're hiking up somewhere near El Capitan in Yosemite and it's all very beautiful and you're looking at the whole world, and then you see a bear. You notice that you've gotten between mother bear and her cub and mother bear is not very happy about this. Mother bear is about to maul you and attack you and you have three seconds to keep mother bear from destroying you at the top of El Capitan. Do you pull out your Bible and say, it says right over here that I am in charge of you, that man was given dominion over all of the animals and therefore I ask you, bear, to please stand down? That's not likely to be of much help, the bear is going to kill you.
But - so how does it actually work? Bears are so much more powerful than people, how do bears which can kill any one of us - in the end how did we get to master bears? I mean, this blessing actually took place, we have bears in zoos, we do not have people in bear zoos. How did that work, that we managed to put bears in zoos? The answer is…
[Response from audience member: (Unclear 42:05)]
No single man can master a bear, but the community of mankind getting together over ages can develop with technology tools that can master bears. We can develop things like bows and arrows and shotguns and cages and things like that which allow us to master bears. So with technology, as a group we can do it. And that's part of the implication of what G-d is saying.
What G-d is saying is, you really are like Me. I am creator - if you think about G-d as creator, G-d's creativity manifested itself in a biological way and in a technological way. Biologically, G-d created life, He created humans. Technologically, G-d [fiddled 42:47] with things and built the world by saying no, I want to change things, I want to add to it, I want to make it a little different. That process of mind working together with actions to make the world the way you want it to be, what G-d calls Melacha, is something that we do too. We do Melacha as well, and we build technologically and we call that a certain kind of creativity, and we build biologically like G-d does, we really are little creators like G-d. We have dominion over the earth, we have dominion over vegetation - which is the next part of the blessing, it's all ours. We have to share it with the animals, but it's all ours.
This is all a world 1 picture. It's a world 1 picture of man's place in the universe. If you would have to summarize man's place in the universe according to world 1, say, man define yourself, what place do you have in the universe? I would say, I am amazing, I am a little G-d on earth. There's G-d up in the sky, my spirituality comes when I imitate Him, and when I do as little creator what G-d does as Big Creator, I am fulfilling my mission in the world. So, I have children and that's a great expression of my creativity. And I'm able to build technologically and build these tools and master the world; Vekivshuha - and that is an expression of my creativity. That is my role in the world.
So let's say, okay, man - imagine our interview with man number 1 from world 1. So we'd say okay, so explain to me your relationship to the land. What would man 1 say? The land? Excuse me? Yeah, the land, what do you think your relationship to the land is? What would man 1 say about his relationship to the land? I am there to dominate it. That's my role. The land is the sandbox in which I play, it's the thing that G-d has given me as a plaything, as - to be able to dominate and to build up and to express my creativity within. Because in world 1 - go back to the first sentence - what is Shamayim va'Aretz? They are things. They are objects. They are that which [G-d 45:13] has created and therefore I, little creator, relate to those things as things also. There's nothing sacred about land, it's just something that I use, that I exploit, that I build with.
Now, at a certain point, even world 1 has its limits because world 1 ends with a chilling thing, which is the Great Creator with a capital C stops and that's Shabbos, and calls it quits. The implication is that [little 45:46] creator with a small c at some point also has to stop and call it quits. And indeed there is a time when Shabbos is introduced to man also. So you - creativity ad nauseam gets you into dangerous places, and that's the Tower of Babel, that's atomic energy and nuclear war, I mean that's a lot of things. But man number 1, who am I? I'm Tzelem Elokim, I'm there to emulate G-d, that's my path to spirituality.
Man 2 has an entirely different way of understanding himself. The words Tzelem Elokim never appear with man 2. How would man 2 define spirituality? When man 2 in the third rock from the sun looks up what are the creators he most clearly sees? Heaven and earth. Which means that what is spirituality going to look like for man number 2? You see, land changes. If I ask man number 2 tell me your relationship to the land, what would man 2 start to tell me? Land is not the sandbox that I create in, that's not words that man 2 would relate to. Man 2 looks at land and sees what? A creator. Land is sacred. Land is something that I come from.
Now a very different creator than G-d, right? G-d is the creator behind land. How is land and heaven a different creator than G-d? It's different because first of all they are inanimate objects, so earth and sky even though it might be where I come from at some mineral, biological level, but I can't emulate earth and sky. I can't try to be like earth and sky. I'm a thinking, breathing human being; earth and sky are not thinking and breathing things. So that means that imitation is not going to be the way that man 2 is going to express his spirituality. You can't imitate your creator, earth and sky, in this kind of world.
But there is one advantage I have with earth and sky over G-d in trying to relate to it, which is at least it's tangible. Now if I mess this up it becomes Avodah Zarah, but there is a non-Avodah Zarah-like way of relating spiritually to the sacred earth and sky, and creation 2 gives it to you. If you ask creation 2 what does spirituality look like, look at creation 2's answer. It comes in the very next verse. Verse 15 in Chapter 2; Vayikach Hashem Elokim et ha'Adam vayanicheyhu b'Gan Eden l'ovdah ul'shomrah - man is placed in the garden to do what? To serve the land and to guard it. Now if you think about that it's a mind-blowing thing. We're used to thinking about man as the center of everything, but if you look at the very first description of man's purpose, man isn't really the center, what is the center? The earth. The garden is the center. Man is really there just to tend to the garden, that's what he's there for; to guard the garden and to tend to it, that's what he's there for.
Think about all the Mitzvot in world number 2. One set of Mitzvot is; L'ovdah ul'shomrah - you are there to guard the garden. What's the other set of Mitzvot? The other set of Mitzvot is how you relate to the trees. The trees are also the products of the earth, so your spirituality in world number 2, which is earth and sky, is going to come to how you relate to the products of earth and sky. So how do you relate to them?
So what does G-d do? So G-d says; Vayatzmach Hashem Elokim min ha'adamah kol eitz nechmad lemareh v'tov lema'achal. Look even to how the trees are described. When the trees are first created they're not described just as trees, they're described as how they're going to relate to man; as the gifts of the land for man. What did G-d create? He created trees. What kind of trees? Kol eitz nechmad lemareh - that are going to strike you as beautiful, you're going to yearn for connection with those trees. By the way, just recently, this past week, scientific studies come out which is that you will do better in life if you live with a room with a view. If outside your window you see nature and you see trees and you see G-d's world, your stress level drops. That's' just the way it is. It's amazing, even if you just see murals of nature. But we're built that way, G-d made a world that's beautiful for us and that's enticing to us and its very existence and its beauty is itself a gift.
So the first thing that the earth gives us as gifts is these trees that are; Nechmad lemareh But they're not just Nechmad lemareh, they're; Tov lema'achal - they're delicious to eat. And if you think about all of the flavors that we experience as ice cream were initially fruit flavors. Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, I mean just go one by one, all of them, and they're different plants, they're different fragrances that come from plants. So G-d says there are these different really delicious food experiences that G-d gives us with these trees. V'tov lema'achal.
And regarding those trees, G-d says, I give you all of those trees - and if you think the first Mitzvah is a Mitzvat Loh Ta'aseh - not to eat from the tree of knowledge, it's not true. If you actually look at the text the very first Mitzvah with relationship to the trees is; Mikol etz ha'gan - from all of the trees of the garden; Ochol tochel - you shall surely eat. Now, Ochol tochel is an imperative. Eat, yes eat! It's not even like if you'd like you can have some trees. G-d says no, I command you, I made this for you, it's a wonderful gift.
So here, what do you have? You have G-d together with earth and together with sky have created this whole bouquet of things for man. This wonderful Smorgasbord of things for man. Together they lay it out for us and say here, all of this is for you. By the way, biologically that's how it works. I mean ask any evolutionary biologist, that's why fruits are delicious, the tree wants you to eat from the fruits so that it can scatter its seeds and that's the only way it works. The tree is supposed to be delicious for you. So there are these delicious trees that are gifts that the earth gives for you, and in return the earth wants something back.
The earth wants something back and G-d wants something back and G-d demands that you give the earth something back. The first thing that you have to give back is; L'ovdah ul'shomrah - you're there to take care of it. So there's a reciprocal relationship between you and the earth. The earth provides all of this bounty for you, and you - you give back to it. There's a second thing that G-d wants, which is there's one tree I don't want you to eat from, the tree is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It's G-d's own special tree, don't eat from the tree.
Now you might say, what a strange thing, if G-d really didn't want me to eat from the tree, why put it there in the first place? That seems like a nasty thing to do. Why would you do that? The answer would seemingly be that G-d wants man to understand something, which is that all of these trees and all of these things that your creator is giving to you, He's giving to you as gifts. Understand that these are gifts coming to you from the creator. What's the one dangerous thing? The one dangerous thing is that I might just accept all of these gifts and not understand that they're gifts coming from my creator. I might start to succumb to an illusion. What illusion is that? This is just the way the world is. It just is this way, there's no gifts, I just got lucky and here's my world. In which case I'm in charge, in which case I can have everything, I can have all trees.
That one tree that I can't eat is a constant reminder that I'm not the master of this world, there's another master. There's creators and the creators have given me this as gifts, and I need to understand that. That's all the creators want.
And by the way, it's all you want. As parents you would want the same thing. If you think about a parent what it is that you want from your kids? What do you want from your kids? You want to give to your kids, you want your kids to enjoy. So you have grandkids, so you buy your grandkids one of those Star Wars Lego battleships. So you give them the Star Wars Lego battleship, what do you want to see from your kid? Really you want to see two things; the two things you want to see - what do you want to see? Let's just play out the scene. I'm the grandparent, and I give my kid this wonderful Star Wars Star Destroyer, Lego thingy, it cost $150 and it's like oh, Grandpa that's really great. So what do I want to see? I want to see two things. What do I want to see?
The first thing I want to see is I actually want to see the kid enjoy the gift. Do you understand? In other words, I don't want it, oh Grandpa thank you so much for the gift and then the gift stays on the shelf for the next three months, like I'm not impressed by that. I actually want to see you enjoy the gift, I mean that's - so that's; Mikol eitz ha'gan ochol tochel - eat all these delicious trees, I want you to enjoy these delicious trees.
But the other thing that I want you to do, is I don't want to just see you enjoy the gift, I'd also like a little thank you. Now it's not because I'm such an egotist that I have to have all of my thank-yous, it's just that when a kid is playing with the 'tree' or playing with the Lego, I want them to have some understanding that the tree came from me. And therefore the thank you will help with that. So G-d says, you know I've a better way to do it, I don't even need a thank you, just don't eat from that tree. As long as you stay away from that tree, that's how you show Me that you understand that you are in a world with all these gifts, so therefore I know that whenever you consume these gifts you do so with the consciousness that it came from Me.
And that's it. That's spirituality in world number 2. Very different than world number 1. If you would compare the interviews of world number 1 and world number 2 with man, they're telling you two different things. What is spirituality according to world number 2? Nothing to do with creativity. Spirituality according to man in world number 2 is what? It's how do I relate to these creators from which I've come? They give me these gifts, will I accept them properly? Will I guard - will I return the favor properly?
If we could boil down the spirituality of man number 1 into one word what would the word be? Two words. The words would be Imitatio Dei - imitating the creator, that's what it's all about; Tzelem Elokim - imitating the creator. G-d is the sentient being up there, I can't touch Him, I can't feel Him, I can only connect to Him by imitating Him. That's one view. World number two doesn't work like that. When I look to heaven and earth as my primary creators and G-d beyond that, I'm looking at tangible things, and they give me tangible things. What does spirituality look like to man 2? I want to suggest it looks like - in Hebrew the word would be, Deveikut - it would be clinging to. I can cling to my creator if it's physical, I can touch it, it's developing a relationship with. It's not that I'm going to imitate heaven and earth, but I'm going to have a relationship with heaven and earth, they are these sacred things. I'm going to have a relationship with G-d, and that relationship is going to be built out of me accepting the gifts that they have to offer and me reciprocating properly in kind.
Let's talk about one final relationship for man 1 and man 2. Relationship between man and woman. What is the relationship between man and woman in world 1? If you would ask Adam - if you would ask man in world number 1 who is this woman, what would he say to you? Think about it, if my Modus Vivendi - if everything I'm about in world 1 is creator - little creator imitating Big Creator, so who is she? She is my partner in creation, the one without whom I can't do this. We have a sacred ability to create but it only happens when we're together, and neither of us have the ability to create biologically on our own, I need her because the only way I can create is through her and she needs me. That is one view of creation, in that view of creation man and woman are created simultaneously, they're both equally Tzelem Elokim, they both equally share the power to create, neither can create unilaterally, both can create bilaterally. That is who they are.
That is not how man 2 would describe woman. Man 2 is not interested in creation, so he's not going to describe Eve as his co-creator, and in fact, when he names her, that's not what he names her. What does he name her? What happens? In world number 2 G-d puts man to sleep and says, it's not good for man to be alone - so the first thing G-d does is; Vayitzer Hashem Elokim min ha'adamah kol chayat hasadeh - so the first thing is G-d goes back to the ground, because everything comes from the ground, and creates all of these animals. And says, well let's see if Adam comes from the ground maybe he'd like some other things that come from the ground, so some cousins. No. Man doesn't feel completed with any of the animals. Okay, so then what will work for you? So what will work for you is this new creation. G-d puts man to sleep and takes a rib or a side from him and builds that into woman, and presents woman to him.
So in the Toldot Shamayim va'Aretz who is woman? If, in the generations of heaven and earth, man is a child of heaven and earth, who is woman? A grandchild of heaven and earth: These are the Toldot of Shamayim va'Aretz. Man feels that something is missing, that his feminine side is lost, and he wants to reclaim his feminine side and so he sees woman and he wants her, and what does he name her? He names her Isha - Ki mei'ish lukchah zot. Isha literally means from man. I name her 'from man' because she was taken from man. So if you ask man number 2 what his impetus to come together with woman is, the answer you're going to get is very different from man 1's answer. Man 1 will definitively say, I come together with woman because it's the only way I can create. Man 2 says forget about creation, why do I come together with woman? Because I am seeking to become whole because I want to reclaim my lost feminine side.
Everything in world number 2 is really about becoming whole. I have a sense that I come from somewhere; heaven and earth may not have created me cognitively, but I come from heaven and earth and therefore I want to go back to earth, in some way I need to unify with earth. So how do I unify with earth? Well ultimately I die and my body goes back to earth, and that's one way to do it, but there's another way to do it, the right way to do it, which is mutual gift giving. The earth gives me wonderful things and I give wonderful things back and somehow I can feel connected to heaven and earth that way, I can feel connected to G-d that way. I came from G-d, G-d gave me all these trees, when I follow His laws, I do the right thing, so I work with these gifts the right way and I'm connected to G-d. I'm connected to my wife, she comes from me, I have the ability to give her pleasure, she has the ability to give me pleasure. And we come together without even thought of creation, creation is just the byproduct.
Both Adam 1 and Adam 2 are true. If you look inside of you each one of us has Adam 1 and Adam 2 in them. There's a part of us that says what is life about? Life is about being creative, life is about ambition, life is about me building the world and making it into a better place and that's what it's about and that is a very world 1 way of looking at what it's about. When I do so, I'm doing something sacred, I'm imitating G-d and all of that is wonderful, but it's not the whole story.
World number 2 has another story to tell and it's also true. World number 2 is I should be careful about how I deal with heaven and earth. Heaven and earth aren't just the sandbox that I get to be creative in, heaven and earth are sacred, they're part of what created me, I need to protect them, I need to take care of them. Hence, the environmental movement, a need to safeguard the environment, there is something sacred in these things from which I come. It's not just my sandbox. The way I relate to G-d is not just by imitating Him, the way I relate to G-d is by accepting gifts from Him and by connecting to Him. The way I relate to my wife it's she's not just my co-creator that I use, but there's a relationship there, I'm trying to achieve a certain kind of wholeness and we call that love.
Two completely different mandates, and to some extent we all need to balance both of them.
There's a new movie out this week - the last couple of weeks or so - I don't know if you guys see movies over here, but in case you do. It's a movie about Steve Jobs, I haven't seen it yet, the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. But from somebody who did, who works with me in the office, he said if you want a metaphor for world 1 and world 2 and the conflict between them, watch the movie Steve Jobs. Because that's really what it's all about. The question is what does it mean - what does meaning in the world mean to you? So if you're Steve Jobs it's very easy to say meaning means if I can bring the iPhone to the world, if I can bring the iPad to the world, if I can bring the iPod to the world, look how many lives I can change with my creativity, I'm making something that the world will be different for. That trumps everything and that's a very world 1 answer.
But then there are world 2 considerations. The problem is world 1 and world 2 have a very, very different language. And this is really the challenge; how do you balance these two kinds of language?
What if your daughter has her piano recital that she has worked so hard for and you want to be at the piano recital but it conflicts, it gets in the way of your ability to just be ambitious and be creative, do you do that? Or if you're a father who works in Apple or any technology company or any company that you're ambitious in and he's very successful. So imagine I'm a lawyer and I get $1,000 an hour or whatever it is that I get in some white-shoe law firm. Imagine that my kid has a - what do they have those - bring-your-parent-to-school day. And there's a bring-your-parent-to-school day, where the parent comes in and talks about their job and makes a little presentation. So what if I'm the parent and what if my kid comes and says, Dad, will you come to my school and make a presentation on bring-your-parent-to-school day, about what it is that you do? I'm so proud of what it is that you do. And you say, well let me tell you something about what I do. I make $800 an hour and it's going to take about four hours off of my day to come into school to make this presentation, if you do the math, that's about $3,200. Do you think it's worth $3,200 for me to come in and make that presentation?
What just happens to that little kid's heart? Do you understand? What have I just done? I have tried to quantify a world 2 value in world 1 terms. You can't quantify the value of coming and making a presentation in your kid's school in world 1 terms of the quantification of creativity that money gives to something. They are two entirely different systems of value; ambition, creativity and relationship, it's world 1 and world 2.
This is the Torah talking to you from the perspective of guidebook, telling you what you need to know about creation to have some understanding of what it means to be a human being. That you have to balance creativity with relationship as you go forward in life, it's all about that. That's the Torah talking to us as guidebook.
When we come back next week, what I want to do with you is to shift gears and play that little experiment that I talked to you about with the Renoir, and then say okay, that's very nice, that's the Torah talking to me as guidebook. Now what I want to do - what I want to then ask is okay fine, but what about the Big Bang? What about all this stuff that science talks about? You still are telling me the story of creation even though you're telling it to me from a certain perspective, is there a way for me to feed the data that you've given into the computer so I can factor out your guidance and see something of what science tells me? Is that there? Is that possible to do? I think the answer is a resounding yes, it is possible to do and that's what we're going to try to do next week. So I'll see you then.
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