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October 07, 1988 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-10-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

TORAH PORTION 1

WOMEN'S

SHOE AND
BOOT

The Story Of Creation:
How Did Adam Look?

RABBI IRWIN GRONER

Special to The Jewish News

T

his Shabbat, we begin
reading the most im-
portant book in the
world: the Torah. The Torah is
filled with paradox. Its truths
are stated in the form of stories,
parables and myths, so simple
that even little children can
understand them and take
delight in their charm. And yet,
the insights of the Torah are so
profound that even the most
brilliant of scholars cannot ful-
ly explicate their meaning.
In the description of the story
of Creation, consider how the
text addresses the difference
between "division" and

Shabbat Bereshit:
Genesis 1:1-6:8,
Isaiah 42:5-43:10

,)

"divisiveness." The former im-
plies separation for a worthy
purpose; the latter involves
discord.
Thus, in Genesis 1:4: "And
God divided the light from the
darkness."
Separation, in itself, is not
necessarily an evil. Frequently
it may be a necessary step in
growth and development. The
simplest form of life, the
amoeba, reproduces itself by
means of division which con-
stitutes the very means of its
survival. Surgery is the process
of separating diseased cells or
tissue from those which are
healthy, thereby preventing the
spread of the malady.
The biblical account of Crea-
tion indicates that the world
itself came into being as the
result of several successive acts
of division and separation. The
Almighty divided between the
light and the darkness; divided
the waters which were under
the firmament from the waters
which were above; divided bet-
ween the day and the night;
and finally divided between the
six secular days of the week and
the Sabbath of sanctity.
Thus did God bring order out
of chaos through a systematic
process of division.
But there is one crucial ele-
ment in Creation which God
significantly intended to be
whole. That element was the
Lord's crowning glory — Man.
When woman was created, she
was recognized in the words of
Adam as "bone of my bone and
flesh of my flesh." The text
declares: "Now therefore shall

Irwin Groner is rabbi of
Congregation Shaarey Zedek.

a man leave his father and his
mother and shall cleave unto
his wife and they shall be one
flesh."
The unity of mankind was
the supreme purpose of the
Creator. The Talmud cites an il-
luminating exchange of views
on this theme between two of
the great scholars of the second
century:
Rabbi Akiva said: "And thou
shall love thy neighbor as
thyself: This is the great prin-
ciple of the Torah." Ben Azai
said: "This is the book of the
generations of man." That is
the great principle of the 'Ibrah.
At first glance, it is difficult
to establish a connection be-
tween the statement of Rabbi
Akiva and that of Ben Azai,
whose meaning is obscure. A
more profound examination of
the words of Ben Azai, however,
shows that he was laying the
foundation for Rabbi Akiva's
statement.
It is as though Ben Azai were
answering this question: Why
is so little detail supplied in the
story of the first man, the most
important biograpliical account
ever written?
So many questions could be
asked: From what particular
section of the earth was the
dust taken from which Adam
was created? What was the col-
or of Adam's skin? What did
Adam look like? How did Adam
worship? Where did Adam ac-
tually live?
The Midrash offers inter-
pretations. Adam was created
from dust gathered from every
continent. Adam was neither
black, white, yellow, brown or
red. Adam was neither Semitic,
Nordic, Mongolian nor
Teutonic. He was the composite
of all colors and races, for he
was the ancestor of all men.
Adam worshipped God, and
no more description is needed.
The form his religiosity assum-
ed is not specified, nor is it im-
portant. Adam is the spiritual
ancestor of men and women of
all religions and of no religion.
The biblical creation story is
the ultimate refutation of the
boast, "My father is better than
your father!" Every individual
is equally significant before
God because we are all equally
the descendants of the same
original parents.
This concept, then, is what
Ben Azai taught: "This is the
book of the generations of
man." Man — unqualified,
unlabeled and universal; man
as the culmination of God's
miracle of creation. That, said
Ben Azai, is the great principle
of the Torah, for it clearly pro-
claims the unity and equality
of all men of all races.

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HOES

Jews in American Cinema
18981988

The Shonik-Fleischer Forum for 1988

Gala Screening of "The Chosen"
with guest appearances by
Rod Steiger and Jeremy Paul Kagan

Saturday, October 15, 1988, 8:00 p.m. Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor

Lecture by Neal Gabler
"The Hollywood Moguls"

Sunday, October 16, 3:00 p.m. Auditorium A, Angell Hall, The University of Michigan

Panel Discussion with:

Judith Crist, film critic
Lester Friedman, Professionb of English, SUNY;
Neal Gabler, film critic
Barry Gross, Professor of English, Michigan State Univewrsity
Jeremy Paul Kagan and Rod Steiger
"Jews in American Cinema, 1898-1988"
Sunday, October 16, 7:30 p.m. Auditorium A, Angell Hall, The University of Michigan

(free admission)

Sponsored by the Program in Judaic Studies of The University of Michigan
and by The Anti-Defamation League of Brno! D`rith.

For further information, call 760-9047.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 33

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