Sexual Relations in Gan Eden (Paradise)
Shoin, the Yankees mamish illuminated pshat in the expression ‘one and done’ and for the next few months, fans will be calling for heads to roll and for trades to be made. Four months ago, just before the Mets went on a roll, fans, writers and sports commentators were calling for the head of their manager, ober today, he is considered a genius mamish and will mistama win ‘manager of the year award’. Such is life Raboyseyee, one day on top, the next, over and kaput. And avada, sometimes it’s punkt farkert. Being on top is zicher better, though some enjoy the bottom, if you chap. Shoin, what has all this narishkyet got to do with this week’s parsha of Bereishis? Absolutely nothing! Veyter.
Let’s begin once again, as the Yiddin have been doing for thousands of years, with a shtikel review of Sefer and Parshas Bereishis. Ober, why is it that we taka repeat this cycle each year? Do we read books, even the ones we mamish love more than once? Typically not ober the heylige Toirah is read over and again. Though taka exciting, aren’t we all well versed in how Kayin killed Hevel and how the nochosh (snake) somehow seduced Chava (Eve) -efsher in more ways than one way, if you chap- into eating forbidden fruit? We are! Wouldn’t we be better served and zicher more knowledgeable, were we to learn something new? Wouldn’t we be more intellectually rounded were we to lain (read) portions of the Novee on shabbis wherein we could follow the exploits of personalities like Shaul, Dovid and Shlomo and not just as the Haftorah reading by which time many are out to Kiddush club or otherwise engaged in vichtige conversations about gyrations in the market or other places, if you chap? Taka not stupid questions and we will begin this year-as we have in the past, by taka taking a look into how all this cycle of laining came about. It does epes appear that it was not the RBSO who commanded us to lain the parshas weekly. Once again we will, as we have several times in the last few weeks, be invoking the name of Ezra Hasoifer (the scribe).
And since it’s the beginning all over again, avada it’s good to lay the foundation for the entire book of Genesis. Laying the foundation is always vichtig, if you chap. Bikitzur (in short), parshas Bereishis will teach us how the world was mamish ‘toihu-vovoihu’ (confused, tangled and empty) until the RBSO decided to create the world as we know it today. Were there other worlds that preceded this one, ver veyst? Es ken zeyn (possibly) ober that topic for another day. Our job for today is to learn the heylige Toirah once again and to chap 1,500 years of history in 146 pisukim (verses) found in this week’s parsha. Lommer lernin (let’s begin).
Welcome to Parshas Bereishis, and this Shabbis we’ll read how the RBSO created di gantze velt (the entire world) in six days and rested on the seventh. Shoin, the heylige shabbis was born, and ever since, thousands of pages have been and continue to be written about its observance. Nu, let’s not spend time on this subject, it’s never-ending.
Says the heylige Gemora (Buba Kama 82a) azoy: after traveling three days in the Midbar (desert) without devoting time to studying the heylige Toirah, the Yiddin found themselves spiritually weak. Efsher we can klerr that it was at these moments, that a number of their sins were committed, ver veyst. Avada we all remember learning about their escapades in the Midbar and we can only imagine how much more trouble they would have gotten into without the heylige Toirah. What to do? Says the Gemora: the prophets among them arose and decreed that from then on, three days could not pass without a public Toirah reading, which zicher would ensure heightened awareness of the RBSO and His ways. They designated Shabbis, Monday, and Thursday. Either one person would read three verses, or three people would read three verses each, corresponding to the three classes of Yiddin: Kohanim, Leviyim (Levites), and posihte (regular) Yiddin.
Much later, Ezra Hasoifer (the great scribe) about whom we have talked in the past, he being the same Ezra that led the return of the Yiddin back to their homeland to rebuild the Second Temple, instituted that ten verses would be read by three individuals. This number corresponded to the ten public servants who spent their days immersed in Toirah study in the Shul and had the side benefit of ensuring that a minyan (quorum of 10 men) would always be present. Veyter.
The minhag (custom) of reading an entire parsha came about some time later, exactly when, ver veyst. And the heylige Gemora (Megillah 29b) makes reference to the people in the west [i.e. Israel] who would complete the entire Toirah reading, in three years. Says Rashi: their practice was unlike ours which is to complete the entire Toirah in one year’s time and to restart on the Shabbis following Sukkois.
In recent times, others have, of course, chimed in and confirmed that we must avada read the entire Toirah in one year, and that it’s ossur (forbidden mamish) to go back and opt out of this plan for the extended three year plan. And now a shtikel peek into the parshas Bereishis which, besides recounting the history of creation, also features the first coming together of man and woman, the first ever sin in history, murder, conspiracy, the first clothing, and avada much more. In fact this parsha covers some 1,500 years in time from creation mamish and all the way to the emergence of Noiach and his sons. Surely you won’t want to miss reading about what went on in that family ober a bissel gidilt (some patience) please. For now we must avada focus on the somewhat bewildering events that we encounter here in our parsha.
Seemingly it all started going downhill on day six when the RBSO decided to create man. Shortly thereafter, though exactly how much time had elapsed we don’t know, the RBSO decided that Man needed epes a shtikel companionship, someone to blame for his misdeeds, created Woman, gave her to Man and shoin, the plot began to thicken.
Odom (Man) and Chava (Eve) became one, had children, and let’s meet their two sons: Kayin and Hevel (Cain and Abel). And as (many) brothers have done ever since, avada they didn’t get along, and zicher you all know that our parsha features the first murder. Shoin; two brothers, lots of everything to share and enjoy ober seemingly it wasn’t meant to be. The incident between them began rather innocuously. Kayin became a shepherd, Hevel a farmer. After a period of time Kayin initiated the idea of bringing a korban to the RBSO, Hevel followed suit. In general it appears that the RBSO liked the idea of people bringing such offerings and these seemingly served as the forerunners of many such offerings brought voluntarily and so commanded by the RBSO later in sefer Vayikro (Leviticus).
Kayin offered a Korban (sacrifice) to the RBSO, albeit seemingly an inferior one to the one his brider (brother) Hevel offered. Much to Kayin’s dismay the RBSO, we are taught, rejected Kayin’s sacrifice but accepted Hevel’s offering. Kayin was angry that the RBSO found favor in Hevel’s offering, and remained angry despite the explanation. What happened next and how much time went by we don’t know but the narrative abruptly turns to a scene which takes place in the field where Kayin rises and kills Hevel. And why is this story important though it seemingly takes place long after Odom, Chava, and the snake entered into the first ever conspiracy and sinned against the RBSO? Nu lommer lernin some medrish which avada illuminates different possibilities of what went down and who.
Let’s meet the nochosh (snake) that plays a central role here in the first Parsha in the heylige Toirah, but before we read what the Medrish has to say about this ménage, let’s go back and revisit the Kayin murder.
As is typical of most conspiracies, there are differing views on what may have gone down, and the Medrish, many of which we will explore this week, offers at least four of them, let’s see. One theory offered is that Kayin and Hevel struggled over land ownership. Avada we can chap that the world was epes too small for the two of them, and in classic case of dueling brothers, the land grab struggle led to murder. Veyter.
A second opinion maintains that the two brothers were quarreling over who would have the Bais Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) built in their territory. Surely such pious brothers were thinking ahead a few thousand years, and because of their mamish oisergiveyntliche (outstanding) zeal to house no lesser a structure than the Beis Hamikdash, instead a murder was committed. The next two theories are zicher a shtikel more interesting and mistama the Rebbe skipped over these.
A third opinion posits that Kayin and Hevel fought over Chava, each wanting to marry her. Come again! Did we just read that the boys were fighting over the right to marry Chava, Odom’s wife and their own mother? Indeed we did. Nu, calm down you chazerim, and avada we must assume, though avada assuming usually gets one into big trouble, that Odom had divorced his wife Chava, married another with the same name and now the boys, efsher feeling bad for the mama, wanted to marry her, and in the heat of the moment, Kayin did another type of shooting, if you chap. And if you think this medrish is a shtikel out there, let’s look at yet another.
The final opinion cited in the Medrish is that the first Chava had already died, and Kayin and Hevel were arguing over who would marry the extra sister that was born to Hevel. Kayin and Hevel had sisters? Nu, I forgot to tell you that there is another medrish which tells us that each of the boys was born with twin sisters who were seemingly not Toirah-mention worthy.
Back to the Nochosh: having paired Odom and Chava, the RBSO placed them into Gan Eden (Garden of Eden), where they were free to eat anything except the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. However, Chava fell prey to the nochosh (serpent), who convinced her to eat the forbidden fruit, if you chap; an example many women have followed ever since, if you chap. Good wife that she was, she also shared her fruit with Odom. Ober how could a lowly snake entice Chava so, and how could Chava be so seduced? Did the snake have magical powers?
Says the heylige Toirah: “The snake was the most cunning of all the beasts of the field that the Lord God had created….” (Bereishis 3:1). And what taka was its sin? Says Rashi (3:14) based upon the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 29a), that it is considered an inciter: seemingly, the snake taka did one hec of a job inciting Chava, and, says the Medrish: the snake enticed Chava into having sexual relations. Chava had sexual relations with the snake? Yikes!! Nu, avada we must learn more about this topic, veyter.
Nu, efsher you’re wondering how it’s even shayich (at all possible) for the snake to have sexual relations with Chava? Do snakes do such dastardly things? Is it even possible to fathom that the snake, sneaky as he was, committed adultery with Chava? Even if we imagine the snake as having legs (before his legs were chopped off and God commanded him, “You shall go about on your belly”), the distance between it and humankind remains enormous, and it is quite unclear how it would have enticed Chava into sexual relations. Unless of course the change undergone by the snake after the punishment was so drastic that the snake we know today is in no way similar to its primeval ancestor, and efsher back then it taka had legs, and taka knew how to use them, if you chap, which according to this pshat, he certainly did. Ver veyst.
Unless chas v’sholom (heaven forbid) we assume that Chava was a shtikel bored up in Gan Eden and decided to experiment with different zachin, if you chap, to fight her boredom and that she had some weird perverse sexual orientation. We must efsher kler (think) and accept that the snake had human characteristics, at least externally. It is perhaps for this reason that the snake also knew how to express itself so articulately, and perhaps his intellect was not inferior to that of man. Avada this would also reconcile the fact that the snake was able to conduct real conversation with Chava, and avada using his charm, as snakes typically posses, he was able to entice her into sexual relations. Nu, just about now you must be thinking that the Oisvorfer is mamish an apikoires and worse, ober rest assured that what is being shared is directly from sources which avada include the heylige Gemora, the Medrish, and others.
That all being said, how could the snake taka have such seductive powers over Chava? How could the snake manage to entice Chava, and she Odom, to eat of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge? Nu, we must avada conclude that this was no ordinary snake; rather he was of the very cunning variety, smart too. And says the Zoihar and avada who had a better imagination that did he, azoy: the snake was the personification of the Soton (Satan), little devil that he was.
And when did this entire meyseh (incident) take place? Says the Medrish: Chava was created and gave birth on the very same day and that her children were born as adults. As a result however of Chava’s transgression and efsher illicit relationship with the snake, pregnancy was extended to forty weeks, children are born as babies, and avada require much self-sacrifice to raise. Odom didn’t get away scot free either: The RBSO decreed that man will earn his living with difficulty. And says the Medrish: Jewish women were given and are entrusted with three special mitzvois to atone for Chava’s sin: lighting Shabbis candles, separating the Challah (symbolic of the kashrus of the home), and Taharas Hamishpocha (family purity),
Can you imagine that all this took place on Friday, the sixth day? Is it a wonder that the RBSO rested on day seven?
Hey let’s not forget Odom, Chava’s bashert and husband, and recall that the RBSO himself made this first ever shidduch. Says the Radak: Odom named his wife “Chava” immediately after they committed the sin of partaking of the forbidden fruit. According to the Radak, Odom experienced sexual desire for the first time after partaking of the fruit, and it was thus at this point when he understood that he would cohabit with Chava and beget children with her. He therefore named her “Chava,” which alludes to her being eim kol chai, the “mother of all living beings.”
Ober (however) says the Ibn Ezra and others that Odom and Chava had sexual relations and reproduced while living in Gan Eden. Rashi, in his commentary (4:1), follows this approach and writes that although the births of Kayin and Hevel (Odom and Chava’s two eldest sons) are recorded only after the narrative of the sin, they were in fact born earlier, in Gan Eden. And says Rashi, quoting the Medrish (3:20): the snake saw Odom and Chava engaging in marital relations and desired Chava, prompting it to devise its scheme to have Odom killed. Seemingly the one-eyed snake was already busy scheming.
And what’s the big to do if they did or didn’t have sexual relations or bear children before or after the snake incident? Nu, avada there is a machloikes (disagreement,) and we find different views as to which of Odom’s and Chava’s children were conceived and born in Gan Eden, and which were conceived only later, after the sin of the forbidden fruit.
Says the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 38b), that already on the day when Odom and Chava were created, they engaged in marital relations “and four [people] got down [from the bed].” The difficult process of gestation and labor was decreed only later, as punishment for the sin of the forbidden fruit, and thus Odom and Chava’s offspring emerged from the womb immediately after conception. It is unclear, however, who these four people were who got down from the bed. Two of them, of course, were Odom and Chava, but who were the two children? Rav Eliyahu Mizrachi (4:2) explains the Gemora as referring to Kayin and Hevel, and thus in his opinion Kayin and Hevel were twins. Toisfes, by contrast, explained that the Gemora here refers to the famous midrashic tradition of twin sisters born together with Kayin and Hevel. Thus, the two children born in Gan Eden were Kayin and his twin sister; Hevel and his twin sister (or sisters; there are different views as to how many girls were born with Hevel) were born later, after the expulsion from the garden. Another Medrish tells us that from Odom and Chava either four or seven people – meaning, two or five children – emerged from their encounter in Gan Eden. According to one view, Chava delivered quintuplets: Kayin, Hevel, and three sisters. This is the view taken in the Midrash Bereishis Rabba (22:2). The other view, which claimed that only two children emerged, likely held that only Kayin and his twin sister were born in Gan Eden, while Hevel was conceived and born after the expulsion. Lommer chazerin (let’s review)
1) The Radak and Ibn Ezra held that Odom and Chava did not cohabit until after the sin of the forbidden fruit.
2) According to Toisfes’ understanding of the Gemora’s comment in Sanhedrin, Kayin and his twin sister were born in Gan Eden, while Hevel and his twin sister (or twin sisters) were born after the expulsion.
3) According to Bereishis Rabba, Chava delivered five children in Gan Eden: Kayin, Hevel, and three girls.
Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 3,21): “Hashem made for Odom and for his wife garments of skin”. Asks and answers the Yalkut: from where was the skin? From the skin of the serpent whose skin was stripped off. Seemingly the snake stripped down more than once, if you chap. And as expected, many commentaries were not happy to read this pshat. In order to clothe Odom the skin was stripped off the serpent? Surely this is unjust and makes little sense. Not to worry because the Yalkut Reuveni quotes another Medrish which tell us that the garments were made from the skin of the Liviyoson fish (Leviathan), whose skin was removed when it was preserved for the future.
What really happened on that fateful sixth day, ver veyst. Sefer Bereishis is extremely riveting, informative and can be studied for days, weeks and months before one can begin to really chap it. Efsher because there are so many midroshim on what might have taken place up in Gan Eden on that very day and because each word of the heylige Toirah can be discussed, analyzed, and elucidated in so many ways – some say as many as 600,000- we need to learn and re-learn the heylige Toirah yearly. With each chazorah (review), we chap a bit more. Maybe not as much as Chava may have on that day, ober, still a gishmake amount.
A gittin Shabbis –
The Oisvorfer Ruv