Torah Thoughts for Today
Monday, January 19, 2004
#1 Adam and Eve Naked in the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve Naked in the Garden of Eden

(Relating to the first Torah portion, Genesis – Bereishis. Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 1 – Chapter 6, verse 8. English text and commentary at http://bible.ort.org/books/pentd2.asp
Dedicated to my parents.)

Shana Tova, a Happy New Year, to you and yours. May this year be a year of Peace and Happiness for everyone.

I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts I had as I was reviewing the time we are in, on the Jewish calendar.

Have you ever thought about the origins of our mixed feelings about being naked and being dressed?

In all synagogues we start reading the Torah portion of Breishit at the very beginning of Genesis this coming Saturday morning, the Shabbat day.

We are told the wondrous story of how God created Adam and Eve and placed them in a Garden of Eden. The Book of Genesis states that Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden and were not ashamed at all. It was very natural and in harmony with nature.

Today, many people try to re-experience this in summers when they go down to the beach or pool and take their clothes off. It's a kind of "back to nature" action.

But the lingering question remains, what happened that to go naked in public is considered the wrong thing to do in most societies?

The answer according to the Genesis narrative is that a crucial event happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There was another mysterious character that shows up there, a Serpent that literally seduces Eve.

According to some Torah commentaries the Serpent actually raped Eve when he convinced her to "eat" the "Forbidden Fruit". He used his powers of persuasion to make her receptive to his plan of action. When she "ate", she was actually being "impregnated" with his "evil seed", and thus doomed herself and Adam when she convinced him to "eat of the Forbidden Fruit".

At that point the narrative says that they became aware of their nakedness and were ashamed. The commentaries say that they had become aware of their sexual organs, and thus ran to get some cover for themselves from the large fig leafs.

This "stain" on humanity, which is descended from Adam and Eve, is the core of human shame that prevents people from going naked 24/7.

So what was to be done then?

It says that when God kicked out Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden he made for them Garments of Leather. In Hebrew it is "kotnot ohr". Phonetically in Hebrew, "ohr" is the word for both "leather" and for "light"...meaning that God gave them shining "skins" of leather denoting a spiritual "halo" around them to cover-up their nakedness.
...Yes, there really is something to those shiny leather jackets and pants!!! :-)

When dressed in the right stuff we as humans can actually transcend our own nakedness that lies beneath the surface.

"Clothes maketh the man (and woman)" and being naked is for those times when we are faced with our most fundamental natural needs relating to either getting rid of our wastes, or sexually when we go beyond nakedness and towards a fusion with someone that actually transcends time and place and takes us back to a "Heavenly Place" of "Unity" and "Harmony".

So we struggle on with our unique human condition of deciding when is it best to cover ourselves up and when is it not.

Just some thoughts from this week's Torah portion...Let me know what you think.

Best wishes to you and have a great Shabbat!

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