Interfaith Bereisheet

Discussion in 'Interfaith Parsha Project' started by dauer, Oct 23, 2005.

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  1. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    In the beginning! Genesis 1:1-6:8. I want to start this off by opening up for anyone to bring forward anything from the creation story, or the part of the story, depending on how you understand it, that deals with seven days. We can focus on that and then move on to the garden. This would be a good time for some critical voices as well, if there are some that bother to read these threads.

    Dauer
     
  2. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    Once upon a time .... in the beginning .... I've committed to put as much passion as I can into the study of the Torah this New Year and I feel absolutely ready to start and very excited and happy. My copy of the Five Books of Moses is with commentary by Robert Alter and I really like his style. He likes to use some of the medieval Hebrew commentators because he feels they were "more helpful than nearly all the modern ones with their predominately text-critical and historical concerns. So he frequently uses Rabbi Sholomo Itshaqi, 1040-1105, France and Abraham ibn Ezra (1092-1167, traveled from Spain to Italy, France,and England" .... this is just back ground. He starts by saying that the "structure of Genesis comprises two large literary units - the Primeval History (chapters 1-11) and the Patriarchal Tales (chapters 12-50). The two differ not only in subject but to some extent in style and perspective. The approach to the history of Israel and Israel's relationship with God is the material of the rest of the Hebrew Bible which is undertaken through gradually narrowing concentric circles: first an account of the origins of the world, of the vegtable and animal kingdom and of humankind, then a narrative explanation of the origins of all the known peoples and of the primary institutions of civilization. In chapter 11 when God calls Abraham out of Ur we move on to the story of the beginnings of the Israelite nation."


    The above is very interesting to me because the ancient Hawaiian Chant of Creation, called the Kumulipo starts with the void and the creation of the world .... it goes on to describe the birth of the world, of the vegetable and animal kingdom and then mankind .... in the chant the first seven "wa" or epochs of time .... everything is paired in their birth order (just like the animals in noah's ark) but the pairing is usually land and sea creatures .... within this pairing is also esoteric and hidden information related to healing and the pairing of certain materials .... as well as other information .... there are so many layers that it is hard to penetrate. In the Kumulipo the first seven "wa" are the time of the gods,the time is still "po" (night) and it isn't until the 8th "wa" that man emerges from the darkness into the (light) "ao" .... the completion of seven..... this chant also has the birth of the star and constellation systems ....

    the order of creation in Genesis is:
    Day 1 light
    Day 2 the sky
    Day 3 the earth, oceans, and vegetation
    Day 4 the sun, moon, and stars
    Day 5 fish, insects, and birds
    Day 6 the animal kingdom and human beings

    the Kumulipo (hawaiian chant) also follows a progression of births up to man and woman and the chant was known long before the missionaries arrived with any bibles ....the seventh period or "wa" starts with "o kau ke anaano ia'u kualono" which translates as "fear falls upon me on the mountaintop" or "the solemn stillness on my hills" or "awe comes over me on the mountaintop" or basically we have moved through the seven energy centers of the body and are now at the top of the mountain and "ao" or day or light is about to break forth.... so seven continues to be the "completion of a cycle" ..

    can I jump a little ahead into chapter 2 of Genesis because I love this explanation by Altar "many Bible readers have long puzzled over differences in a second version of the creation story presented in Genesis, chapter 2. While 1:27 suggests that man and woman were created simultaneously -- "in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" - 2:7-8 speaks of God fashioning Adam alone, from the earth. Eventually, God concludes, "It is not good for man to be alone" (2:18) He puts Adam into a deep sleep, withdraws one of his ribs,and from it fashions Eve, the first woman (2:21-23). Is such an explanation of woman's creation demaning to women? On the one hand, the claim that man was created first, and woman formed out of a part of him, might suggest the male's inherent superiority. On the other hand, the fact that every new creature depicted in the divine creation is more highly developed than the one that preceded it might indicate that woman, who is last to be created, represents the apex of creation." :)
    In any event, the account in chapter 1, which states that both sexes are created in God's image, clearly suggests that they are equal in God's eyes."

    Gotta go and fix dinner .... be back later .... poh
     
  3. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Alter is, as I have heard, a good translator. I prefer Fox because he's less of an apologist but all translations have their strengths and weaknesses. Something I'm going to add from Fox' intro to Genesis is his suggestion of key themes. I won't include his expansions of these ideas, but the themes are as follows: Origins, order/meaning in history, blessing, covenant, God punishes evildoing, sibling conflict with the younger usually emerging victor, testing.

    I think it would be worthwhile to have a few alternative readings of what was created on each day.

    1. Light.
    2. A dome is created to separate the upper waters from the lower waters, and the dome is called heaven.
    3. The lower waters are gathered together, creating dry land, and the waters. Vegetation.
    4.The sun and moon, to give light to the earth. The stars. These are all placed in the dome.
    5. Fish, insects, and birds, great sea monsters,
    6. All the other life. Humankind "in our image."
    7. The rest in the musical page of life.

    So what is the dome? Why does it begin here? What is the purpose of this narrative? Are there more symbolic ways to read this? What is a day? Why are all those swarming things created together? Why light twice? What is that first light? What are the upper and lower waters? What does the creation of Shabbat mean? What does "in our image" mean?

    Dauer
     
  4. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    you probably know my take on this first one .... the "dome" could be a reference to the human head at one level of meaning .... in hawaiian legends we have references to the "upper" and "lower" jaws which refers to sacred or heavenly knowledge and earthly or physical knowledge (the as above, so below) and perhaps the upper and lower waters have the same meaning .... "in our image" has always meant to me that we are the children of God and God is within us (which is why we must go inward to meet him face-to-face) .... the light twice might be to first see the light and then comes enlightnment or wisdom (in the hawaiian language we double words to give them more power such as the word "malama" means moon, and "malamamalama" means wisdom .... double the strength of the light of the moon in a sense) .... the sun and the moon can also be symbols of the right and left hemispheres of the brain .... the sun is usually associated with the left side, the male energy, the warrior .... the moon is usually associated with the right side, the female energy, the spiritual world which is why we use the phrase "there are many different paths to the mountaintop but when we get there we all see the same moon" (note that we do not all see the same sun) .... I don't know about the sequence of birth of insects, birds, and sea monsters (need to think about this one more) .... aloha nui, poh
     
  5. kiwimac

    kiwimac God is NOT about Fear

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    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maori_creation_story

    kia ora,

    Kiwimac
     
  6. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Kiwimac,

    Welcome to the discussion. Do you think you could say a few words on what you just posted? It reminds me a little of the relationship post-separation between the Shechinah and the Blessed Holy One in kabbalistic thinking, the yearning.

    Dauer
     
  7. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    mahalo nui kiwimac .... ours is Wakea (sky father ) and Papa (earth mother) ... the whirlwind and the "te here tangata" (rope) are important symbols with inner meanings as is the "whenua" (umbilical link to Papatuanuku and "aho makawerau" (topknot link to Ranginui) (hope I spelled those correctly) .... if your creation story is like ours it will have at least four levels of meaning .... welcome, welcome, welcome .... please join us to talk-story and share thoughts .... me ke aloha pumehana, pohaikawahine
     
  8. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    dear dauer .... interesting how this parsha started off with several references to creation stories .... genesis, the kumulipo, and the maori creation story .... I was just posting something on another thread about "jacob's ladder" and thought it might also fit here .... especially since "jacob's ladder" has "seven" steps or rungs .... but there is a string game referred to as "cat's cradle" which is played in many old traditions ..(this is how I learned to make jacob's ladder with strings as a child) ..

    .. in the south pacific it is also associated with story telling .... on Easter Island the game is called "kai kai" and when the "maker" (the one making the string figures) is working he/she sings a song which tells of the first people that went to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and their history .... it is a creation story or a genesis .... each string figure reflects some aspect of the story ....

    You have probably heard of the "moai" on Easter Island (those giant heads with the topknots) .... well there are many on the island but there is only one group of seven that is faced toward the ocean .... the rest face inland .... the story of how these giant "heads" were made and moved by the ancient people is very different than the one told by the anthropologists today .... it is connected with a creation story ....

    your question about "what is a day" probably is not related to the 24 hour day that we know now .... I suspect it might be closer to a "period of time" when something happens (in the hawaiian chant it is called a "wa") .... part of the inner meaning of the word "hawai'i" itself is related to this term "wa" .... the word for a canoe is also connected with the sound "wa" because a canoe is used to transport something between one point and another in a space of time, it is the movement in time ..... so I think a "day" is simply a period of time in which something happened ....

    the two waters ... God said, "Let there be a vault in the midst of the waters, and let it divide water from water" and God made the vault and it divided the water beneath the vault from the water above the vault,and so it was. And God called the vault Heavens .... and God said, "let the waters under the heavens be gathered in one place so that the dry land will appear, and so it was and God called the dry land Earth" .... here we have the first description of "heaven and earth" which can also be linked to the human body, the "head" as the vault and thus the heavens, and the body as the land or earth .... in hawaiian and also in the maori creation stories this connection of the heavens and earth would be symbolized in the marriage of the sky father and earth mother .... in nature it is symbolized in the lightening strike (one of its symbols) because when there is a great storm and the lightening strikes the earth it releases nitrates in the rocks and allows the land to become fertile .... if the lightening is artifically diverted, which man has actually done .... the land becomes barren .... so the lightening strike is seen as the union of heaven and earth and also as the "transformation of consciousness" .... this must be why I love to stand in the middle of a great storm and I feel like I inhale the energy of the storm (on the islands I would go to the edge of the ocean in a storm because it was so full of energy) ...and remember that the bolt of lightening is the connecting force for the three pillars on the tree of life in the way of the kaballah ....

    so genesis begins the process of knowledge both external and internal .... we are reborn each time we seek another level of meaning .... it is part of the great cycle .... aloha nui, poh
     
  9. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    i believe...:D

    the heaven & earth was created before the first day (like only God knows for sure when).

    then, each of these days are figurative. it could be one literal day, 1000 years per day, 7,000 years per day, a million years per day (we dont know)

    so it appears to me thAT THE EARTH WAS ALREADY MADE BEFORE gOD STARTED adding all these other things.

    now my question is what LIGHT was created on the first day? it is obviously not the sun & the moon & because that came on the 4th day.
    IMO opinion, the first day was not literal LIGHT, but probably in the context of good & evil (day & night)
    what do you all think?

    Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.Gen 1:4 And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness.Gen 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
     
  10. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    that string thing you mention-i remember doing that in my hands. it had cup & saucer, witches hat, cradle, jacobs ladder & several others but what were they all?
    they all folded in & out into different designs made by the fingers. it was actually very cool. :)
     
  11. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Maybe the light is the creation and the darkness is the absence of the creation. And saying "Let there be light!" and there was light, this is when the creation actually takes place, the rest being just a description of this light, this creation, the world. The darkness is only that which has yet to unfold.

    Dauer
     
  12. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    ok good point. i can see that.
    darkness could mean a shadow being cast from something in the path of the light, & this is what was seperated from that which was light.
    you know the phrase "you are standing in my light"

    my next question is when did the water appear? i mean how did water get to the planet, in order for it to be divided. or do you think God just made the water at the same time he made the heaven & earth.
    i have always pictured a very long garden hose from some other planet with tons of water & God filled up the earth with water like a swimming pool.
    or was the water made first then combined with the earth.?.
    and when did he make all the gasses?

    if Venus supposedly use to have water on it, where did all the water go after it was baked away?
    boy do i have questions:)

    i think this is in part, reference to the attributes of God, the seven spirits of God & His personality. i have heard it Could be refering to angels also.
    not trying to create any godhead dogma here, that is just how i see it because i believe God is ONE entity.

    his eyes for seeing. his hands for strength & building. ears for hearing, a nose to smell, etc.. God can do all these things like man does, only in spirit.

    it sure is a big mystery.
     
  13. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    According to the text, I think the water was always there, as it says in my translation: "At the beginning of God's creating the heavens and the earth, when the earth was wild and waste, darkness over the face of Ocean, rushing-spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters--"

    I think that the dome, the firmament, split the waters in half, and then the waters within the dome gathered together leaving empty space, which is where the land was. The stars were placed firmly in the dome, and the dome would rotate so it looked like day passing.

    Bandit, it's okay to unapologetically bring up any dogma you wish here. If you explain what it is you're bringing up, that's helpful, but you really don't have to apologize for anything. As long as you abide by the rules of the discussion, which is a disclaimer I don't have to make for you anyway. Please, bring all your ideas forward as they come to you.

    I think "in our image" was originally a reference to a pantheon, and I think it actually retains this meaning in some midrash where it comes to mean the angels. There's a midrash where God says, "Let us create man in our image" and He consults the angels, and they're all arguing about what an awful idea it would be to create mankind, and while they argue God creates man. It's actually much better in its full form because then you get specific answers from Truth and other angels that are really quite honest and blunt. Found a version of it for those interested:

    http://philologos.org/__eb-lotj/vol1/two.htm#2

    Dauer
     
  14. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    in parts of the south pacific the "chanter" or "story teller" would make the string figures while singing the story of creation, or other legends and information .... there are hundreds of figures and some of them cannot be replicated today (the knowledge is forgotten) .... but a lot of it was connected with mythology and legends of the first people ....

    genesis comes in many different forms .... here is another perspective on
    the question of the "light" .... aloha nui, poh

    "In The Essential Kaballah there is a description of the hidden light

    God said, "Let there be light!" and there was light.
    God saw how good the light was
    and God separated the light from darkness.

    Rabbi Isaac said,
    "The light created by God in the act of Creation
    flared from one end of the universe to the other
    and was hidden away,
    reserved for the righteous in the world that is coming,
    as it is written:
    "Light is sown for the righteous"
    Then the worlds will be fragrant, and all will be one.
    But until the world that is coming arrives,
    it is stored and hidden away."

    Rabbi Judah responded,
    "If the light were completely hidden,
    the world would not exist for even a moment!
    Rather,it is hidden and sown like a seed
    that gives birth to seeds and fruit.
    Thereby the world is sustained.
    Every single day, a ray of that light shines into the world,
    keeping everything alive;
    with that ray God feeds the world.
    And everywhere that Torah is studied at night
    one thread-thin ray appears from that hidden light
    and flows down upon those absorbed in her.
    Since the first day, the light has never been fully revealed,
    but it is vital to the world,
    renewing each day the act of Creation."

    When powerful light is concealed and clothed in a garment, it is revealed. Though concealed, the light is actually revealed, for were it not concealed, it could not be revealed. This is like wishing to gaze at the dazzling sun. Its dazzle conceals it, for you cannot look at its overwhelming brilliance. Yet when you conceal it - looking at it through screens -- you can see and not be harmed. So it is with emanation: by concealing and clothing itself, it reveals itself.

    With the appearance of the light, the universe expanded.
    With the concealment of the light,the things that exist were
    created in all their variety.
    This is the secret of the act of Creation.
    One who understands will understand."

    Whoever attains the hidden light of the Torah can see from one end of the world to the other ....

    the above is from "The Essential Kabbalah, the Heart of Jewish Mysticism" by Daniel C. Matt
     
  15. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    so that is where the string trick comes from? i never knew, but my cousin used to make them all the time & i learned a few of them-just cant remember what they all are

    ah yes. i can see this in every day as the sun comes up & sets & i do believe that it is impossible to look upon God in all of His glory, but He allows us a glimpse from time to time, to keep us alive and in that I feel He is creating us & doing a work.
    very nice:)

    yes. i think i understand this & it makes sense to me. yet still there is no darkness in God, but i understand what is meant here.:)

    i certainly do believe this. when we can fully understand the whole Torah, we will surely be able to see from one end to the other of the universe.:)

    the above is from "The Essential Kabbalah, the Heart of Jewish Mysticism" by Daniel C. Matt[/QUOTE]
     
  16. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    I want to open the conversation up to include the garden narrative. What is this all about? What is going on? How does this relate to the earlier discussion of creation? Is there any gap between these two sections at all? What is the snake/serpent/thing? What are those trees? What does it mean to be created from the rib/side of another? Why is adam created from the dust, and why is he breathed into to give him life? There are many more questions I could ask, but as always these are just possible conversation starters. Please use them or don't use them to say whatever you'd like about these passages of text.
     
  17. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    for me to speak of the garden requires that I follow the thread of thinking about genesis and its relationship to the human body .... it is the heart of my perspective (always subject to change and adjustment as I continue to learn) ... but if genesis, as in my last posting, is related to the inner path to knowledge and wisdom (as I believe it to be) then the "garden" is paradise or the promised land .... the center of the limbic system .... or it might be more correct to say that the limbic system (that is the pineal system) is the center that one must enter to enter the garden .... that is why the Oak tree is such a strong symbol for the Druids ....



    you must first create the mind, the three levels of consciousness, before you can create the garden .... and to access this place in the mind you must be able to move the spiralling energy up the spinal column (this is the snake/serpent thing) .... there are many other names for the "garden", a few are shamballa, paradise, the promised land .... it is the place that one can meet God face-to-face (the pineal system) .... we just ended one parsha and started anew and where did the whole adventure or path take us .... at the end we go to the mountaintop and meet God face-to-face (this is where we should be able to see the world from end to end).... so genesis is the beginning, the creation of the mind, the creation of the garden .... the process in how we lost our way and what it takes to find it again .... along the way we learn several levels of meaning in the Torah, one level has to do with the way we live our lives day to day so that we prepare for the exerience of entering the garden .... another is the process internally that will take us there ....

    the trees are us .... we become the connection of heaven and earth .... we are rooted in the material world but our branches reach upwards toward heaven .... the Zohar is one text that tells us how to move the energy through the spheres (that is part of the lightening strike) to reach the place in which our consciousness if transformed...

    "Ten sefirot belimah. A vision flashing like lightening. Their limit has no end. God's word surges through them."

    "I am the one who planted this tree for all the world to delight in. With it I spanned the All, calling it All, for all depends on it, all emanates from it,all need it, all gaze upon it and await it. From here souls fly forth in joy. Alone I was when I made it. When I spread out my earth, in which I planted and rooted this tree -- giving them joy in one another, rejoicing along with them -- who was with me? To whom could I reveal this secret of mind?" (Essential Kaballah)

    The story of the search in the garden is conveyed by the report of four rabbis who ventured into "pardes" (the divine orchard,or paradise) Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Aher, and Rabbi Akiva. It shows in a way the four levels of meaning .... it is a dangerous passage because there are many obstacles along the way .... Ben Azzai glimpsed and died. Ben Zoma glimpsed and went mad. Aher cut the plants. Only Rabbi Akiva emerged in peace.

    The garden is what we seek .... the Torah tells us how to get there .... he hawai'i au, poh
     
  18. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Poh,

    one of the things you said reminded me of something. You said, "...the garden is paradise or the promised land..." You go on to define this as you mean it, but to me, the promised land becomes the garden. At first, the garden represents the ideal past and the promised land represents the ideal future, but then the promised land converges on the past, because it falls into the past. And now it is an idyllic past that is looked forward to. Yet it is the past. It almost takes the place of Eden. Eden was an old way to understand it. Jerusalem rebuilt is a new way. Both are lost. Maybe there is a hint of future redemption in one case. And maybe this hint of future redemption is in fact a tikkun on the first loss, the loss of Eden. Anyway... this is my take on the story:

    They never really leave the garden. When they're in the garden they have to tend it, but there's nothing to tend. Everything is easy. Then something happens. They gain human-awareness instead of just animal-awareness because suddenly there is a snake in paradise. They noticed something at first that maybe they didn't notice before. This talking snake thing. And it tells them to do something outside of their programming, which is a human thing. And it has to do with learning too. It starts with the woman because women think out of the box more than men do, less linearly. It tells them to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And the woman goes to the man. And they realize they're naked. Then God goes,

    "You shouldn't have done that. You've got human-awareness now! That's knowledge of good and evil. That's thinking out of the box. That's escaping a blind life. Now you get to see. But look! All that tending you were doing of the garden, it's really work! Work by the sweat of your brow! And you can't go back to the way things were before! And you know, that time was like forever, it would have stayed like forever, but now you know time. And you need to procreate to stay around. That's why women look different, okay? They'll carry the next generation. Okay Chavah? Being self-aware isn't what you thought it would be, I know. But this is a good learning experience. And you won't believe what a story they'll write about this one."

    Dauer
     
  19. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    POH & Dauer-

    you guys crack me up:D
    i agree with all you say but the way you are saying it i have never thought of saying it that way before.

    i will be chuckling for the whole weekend now.

    i liked this too. i always wanted to be one of those trees in the movies that have a face & walk & talk:)
     
  20. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    dauer - You have a great perspective on this and I think I'll rephrase my last comment "the 'promised land' is what we seek, and the Torah tells us how to reach it" because I think you may be right 'the promised land becomes the garden' ..... and I hope it will be filled with many "trees" of all sorts ....

    bandit - I also started laughing at Dauer's description of women .... it was very cute ..... aloha nui, poh
     
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