Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bereishis 3 - Quick hits

Some quick hits:

1) 2:19-20: Did the Adam only name animals, or did he even name plant life and inanimate objects? What is the significance of this difference?

2) 2:23: The Adam calls the woman that was brought to him an Ishah, "since this was taken from Ish". But when was the Adam called Ish? Ish and Ishah do not carry with them the definite article, implying that both are general terms (supported by the use of Ish in 2:24) while, to this point, "HaAdam" always does. When the Ishah is referred to in the next chapter, she, too, is referred to with the definite article.

3) 3:7: How would making chagoros, belts, solve the issue of ervah? Were these wide belts that were more like underwear so that they could cover the areas of ervah? Or perhaps the issue was one of their hearts being able to "see" their ervah, as is a halachic issue with saying brachos or davening (although this seems to be somewhat unlikely).

4) 3:10: Adam's nakedness did not make him embarrassed, but rather fearful. The word used, though, is not pachad, but rather the holier yir'a. Perhaps the Adam is arguing that the reason that he hid from God is because his actions raised him to a higher level of consciousness that increases his potential to fear HaShem (Is the word yir'a ever used by malachim?)?

5) 3:12: How is the fact that his wife gave to Adam to eat from the tree a good excuse? Why didn't he argue with her? The answer seems to touch on certain issues of gender dynamics, which may have changed with the introduction of the factor of "v'el isheich t'shukaseich", in 3:16, to balance the opposing force expressed by "ha-kol holeich achar ha-isha".

6) 3:13: The Ishah answers the question about why she ate, but does not take resposibility for giving to the Adam. This, too, may be connected to gender dynamics.

7) 3:17-19: Adam is not blamed simply for disobeying God's command and eating from the tree, but rather for the fact that he listened to his wife.

8) 3:17: For the first time, here, Adam is referred to with an indefinite article (or, more precisely, no definite article). It reverts back in 3:20, but happens again in 3:21, where Adam and his wife are given kosnos 'or. In 4:25, starting from the birth of Sheis, Adam is used as a proper name, with no article at all, and this persists through the geneaological pesukim at the beginning of chapter 5. In chapter 6, though, referring to the sins of mankind, each of the first 7 pesukim contains the word HaAdam with the definite article exactly one time (verse 7 also has it with a mem prefix). Perhaps this is drawing a comparison between Adam HaRishon and these men - who, in turn, are contrasted with No'ach, the subject of the short and simple passuk at the end of the parsha?

9) 3:20: What is the significance of Chava being called "eim kol chai", mother of all living beings, only after the sin (it is even someone ironic, in that it was at this time that death was decreed upon the world)? If she was so named even before the sin, why is she consistently referred to as "the Ishah" throughout the section?
Radak sides with those who suggests that Chava was given both the general name of Ishah and the specific name of Chava at the same time, when she was created. However, he suggests that it is possuble to understand the chronology of the passuk in the literal sense also, explaining that the Adam called her "eim kol chai" once he was granted a sexual ta'avah and realized her capability of producing living beings. (Ibn Ezra notes that she was called Chava and not Chaya so that she would not have the same name as an animal.)



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