A Comprehensive Exploration of the Garden of Eden | Aleph Beta

Eden in Depth Part 1

A Comprehensive Exploration of the Garden of Eden

Rabbi David Fohrman

Rabbi David Fohrman

Founder and Lead Scholar

In this deep-dive course, Rabbi Fohrman explores the story of the Garden of Eden, asking tough questions, uncovering subtle insights in the text, and ultimately bringing new light to this age-old story.


Hi, this is Ari Levisohn, Curator at Aleph Beta, and welcome to our section on Biblical stories. We’ve collected our best material for each story in the Torah in order to uncover the hidden lessons brought to life by the Torah’s narratives. You’re watching our deep dive into the Garden of Eden.

The videos in this series were taken from a longer course that extends all the way through the Flood and the Tower of Babel. You’ll have the chance to continue with the longer course at the end if you wish, but the videos in this series are a self-contained unit on the Garden of Eden.

Hi everybody, this is Rabbi David Fohrman, welcome to these series of classes on the Book of Genesis. Today I just want to give you an introduction to what it is that we're doing here. We're going to be looking at essentially the first 12 Chapters of the Book of Genesis, that covers a lot of stories which are probably familiar to you, stories that you've heard about ever since you were a kid in some way, shape or form, they just permeate Western society, if not Jewish society. Stories like the creation story: the six days of creation culminating in the Sabbath, the seventh day of creation. 

Then we have the story of Adam and Eve in the garden. The story of Cain and Abel, the very first murder. The story of the flood, the deluge that wipes out of all mankind. Then this weird little story - probably not quite as well known - the story of Noah and the vineyard, when Noah plants this vineyard and gets drunk and ends up cursing one of his children with disastrous results for that child. Finally, the last story in the series, the Tower of Babel, the famous story of the people who get together and build this tower in a valley, G-d doesn't like the tower for some reason, decides to destroy it.

These are sort of famous stories, we all have some sort of inkling of some of these, we're going to be looking at these stories in depth. Let me talk for a moment about exactly how we are going to cover them. We're really going to be doing a few things. The first thing we're going to do is we're going to look at each story in detail, we're going to ask a lot of questions about it. We're just going to try to isolate what are the questions that any intelligent person would ask about the story if they were looking at it for the first time. Out of those questions we're going to work and try to build a theory about what is going on at the most basic level on these stories.

The second thing we're going to be doing after we look at each one of these stories in and of themselves, is look at how these stories relate to other stories, to surrounding stories. Each one of these stories in a fascinating kind of way relates in almost a web-like kind of way to other sections of text. There's a relationship between each story and every other story, and you see it in the language that the text uses. Subtle, literary clues that are linking you over and over again to particular other stories, and somehow those other stories are being brought in almost as shades of color, as harmony to the main story, shedding light, enriching the picture. I don't expect you to exactly know what I'm talking about right now, but as we go forward, you'll get a sense of exactly what I mean by this and I think it will become very clear to you.

So that's in a nutshell how it is that we're going to cover things and what it is that we're going to cover.

Let me kind of jump in and just give you a little bit of an introduction to what I'm talking about over here, when I'm talking about asking lots of questions of the text and why I think it's so important. Especially when we're dealing with stories that are so familiar; Adam and Eve are everywhere; Eve products right over here, skincare lotion, Adam and Eve skincare lotion. Of course the most ubiquitous apple symbol of all, made more famous after the death of Steve Jobs, the apple logo of course, coming from the forbidden fruit for knowledge. Then of course apple and Eve, apple juice, Adam and Eve shampoo, these kinds of things are literally everywhere.

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