Raboyseyee and Ladies,
We begin Sefer and Parshas Bereishis with another shout-out and mazel tov to our good friends Esty and Aaron Felder upon the upcoming bar mitzvah -this Shabbis, Parshas Bereishis- of their amazing son Simi. Simi is the real deal! He’s adorable, smart, and exceedingly witty. Mazel tov to you Simi; we look forward to your laining and speech.
Mazel tov to Simi’s siblings, uncles, aunts and many cousins. A very special mazel tov shout out to Simi’s grandparents, Hon. Shimon and Mrs. Miriam Felder, and to Rabbi Yussie Lieber and to Mrs. Joy Lieber. We look forward to participating in the great simcha.
The First Divorce: Top vs. Bottom
Let’s start here: Did a fight over sexual intercourse lead to the first ever divorce? And now that I have your attention, a few more questions are in order. Was Odom Horishoin (Adam) divorced? From Whom? And what is the heylige Ois talking about?! Shoin, we shall address these and other questions below, ober let’s begin here.
Just the other day we were reading V’zois Habrocho, the last parsha in the heylige Toirah. The year was 2488, Moishe was about to pass away, and did. The Yiddin -under Yihoishua’s tutelage- were about to cross the Jordan. A few minutes later, we began Sefer Bereishis and come this shabbis, we’re back to day one of creation.
Everyone knows that Parshas Bereishis contains the incredible story of the Adam family; Odom, his lovely wife Chava and their children Kayin, Hevel and Shase. Shase (Seth)? Yes, it’s true: After a 130-year hiatus, Odom and Chava did find romance and love again -check out Rashi- and indeed a baby boy was born. He was named Shase. That’s all elementary. What’s not so well known -if at all- is much about Odom’s life prior to becoming a loving husband to Chava and having children with her. Odom’s prior life?
What’s also a given is this: ever since meeting Adam & Eve in Parshas Bereishis, the world cannot stop talking about them. We remain enamored with their story; they, as the first man and woman were trailblazers. They were the first the first to eat and seemingly enjoy forbidden fruit (a tradition very much alive and well 5882 years later, if you chap), the first to anger the RBSO, the first to get punished, the first to be exiled, the first to wear clothing, and the list goes on. Books and movies about their lives have been written and produced, and shoin, they remain as popular 5882 years later. They come to life this coming shabbis when we read all about them in real time.
Through it all, the central characters of the parsha, and let’s not forget to shout out the nochosh (conniving serpent), are used to convey messages about sex, gender, and the origins of sin. They remain timeless. Why so? Because their incredible story rationally explains why snakes no longer have legs, why people wear clothes, why women are to be subordinate to men and have pain in childbirth, and why men have to work hard to bring food out of the earth. It’s all perfectly laid out for us in the heylige Toirah. But is it?
Was Chava (Eve) Odom’s first woman? Is it possible she was not? Was there a woman before Chava? Did Odom have another love interest? Was Odom on the singles scene? Did he meet anyone? And if he did, who was she? And if any of this is emes, what happened to her? What was her name? If true, why is the story not mentioned anywhere in the entire heylige Toirah? Is the heylige Ois suggesting that Odom had another love interest? If any, or all of this is emes, how was this kept so secretive? Finally, what gives the heylige Ois license to begin exploring another possibility?
Settle in and buckle your seat belts because what the heylige Ois is about to share with you, is explosive mamish, was never taught in yeshiva and -ad hayoim hazeh (until this very day), most don’t know what the Ois is about to share. It’s true! What’s true? That Odom had a previous relationship. Want more? They were married! Odom may seemingly have been married to a woman by the name of Lilith. Shoin, I said it! Who the hec was Lilith? Is the Ois relying on Christian and other goyishe sources to mention Lilith? Not!
The legend of Lilith has its roots in the heylige Toirah, in our parsha mamish, where two contradictory versions of Creation eventually led to the concept of a “first Eve,” The first Creation account appears in the very first Perek (Bereishis 1:27) and describes the simultaneous creation of both male and female human beings after all of the plants and animals have already been placed in the Gan Eden. In this version, man and woman are portrayed as equals and are both the pinnacle of the RBSO’s Creation. Let’s read the posik:
וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃
And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
The second Creation story appears in the very next Perek (Bereishis 2:18-23) Here, man is created first and placed in the Gan Eden to tend it. When the RBSO sees that Odom is lonely and that all the animals He made as possible companions for him were rejected by Odom (check out several sources on this topic including archives at www.oisvorfer.com for more on the many animals Odom rejected before accepting Chava as his mate), the RBSO creates Chava. You hear this? Finally, the first woman (Chava) is created after Odom rejects all of the animals as partners. Did he try them out first? Ver veyst? Hence, in this account man is created first and woman is created last.
Oy vey, and what to do about the obvious contradictions? Avada we all chap that what the RBSO wrote in His Toirah is emes mamish! Ober this story – conflicting accounts of when woman was created- presented a problem for our sages of yore (the ancient rabbis) who chapped that the heylige Toirah seemingly had two different contradictory stories about man and woman in two consecutive chapters. What to do? The written word of the RBSO could not contradict itself. Not to worry: because our sages were mamish so bright and interpreted Perek 1 so that it did not contradict with Perek 2. Shoin, the conflict was over. Along the way, a few medroshim came up with the idea of a first wife for Odom in the process. And let us recall azoy:
Historically, our sages wrote midrash to explain problems they found in biblical texts. If there seemed to be a missing piece to a story, an inconsistency between two different passages, or a redundant word or verse, the rabbis would explain the problem by writing a new midrash, filling in the missing dialogue, reconciling the seeming contradiction, or showing how there is no redundancy since each word is there to teach a specific lesson or practice. And let’s also keep this in mind: Rabbinic midrash has often been taught as if it were “the way things really happened.” According to the theory of a “First Eve,” Perek 1 where Man and Woman were created together refers to Odom’s first wife (Lilith), while Perek 2 refers to Eve, who was Odom’s second wife. Well, blow me down!
And if so, why taka was Chava created later? Why didn’t the RBSO already know that Odom would be lonely and create him with a mate from the beginning? Why did Bereishis 1 state that man and woman were created together? Why did Bereishis 2 picture the creation of each separately? In the Middle Ages, our sages came up with a fascinating answer to all of these questions by making use of an old ancient near eastern tradition about a kind of female demon, called a “lilith.” Some texts describe her as a succubus, others as a baby killer. In the heylige Gemora (Shabbis 151b) Rebbe Chanina forbids a man from sleeping alone in a house, since this will make a lilith come. What will happen to such a man, ver veyst?
Says The Alphabet of Ben Sira, a populist style midrash collection, azoy: Lilith was actually Odom’s first wife (from chapter 1), before the RBSO created Chava (in chapter 2). The midrashic origin of this interpretation seems simple. Bereishis 1:27 says the RBSO created man and woman together, whereas Bereishis 2:18 has Odom alone. Oib azoy (if so), if Odom was already attached to another woman, where did his wife go? Says the medrish so mamish gishmak azoy: she ran away from Odom because the two of them were always fighting, specifically about which one should be on top during intercourse. You hear this? Avada we can chap a divorce proceeding over the thermostat, or leaving the toilet seat up, ober over a sexual position? Don’t believe it? Let’s read the words verbatim.
…שבשעה שברא הקדוש ברוך הוא את עולמו וברא אדם הראשון, כיון שראה אותו יחידי, מיד ברא לו אשה מאדמה כמותו וקרא שמה לילית והביאה לאדם. מיד התחילו שניהם לעשות מריבה. אומר, את תשכבי למטה. וזאת אומרת אתה תשכב למטה, מפני ששנינו שוין ושנינו מן האדמה. ולא היו משמיעין זה את זה. כיון שראתה לילית כך, זכרה את שם המפורש ופרחה באויר וברחה…
Lets’ try that in English please: …[A]t the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, He created first man, and when He saw that [this man] was alone, He immediately created another woman from the earth like him, and He called her Lilith, and He brought her to Adam. Immediately, the two of them began a quarrel. He said: “You will lay on the bottom.” She said, “You will lay on the bottom, since we are both equals since we were both made from the earth.” They would not allow each other to be heard. Once Lilith saw this, she uttered the special name of God, flew off into the air, and escaped…
Who says this? The Hebrew comes from manuscript b, in, Eli Yassif, The Tales of Ben Sira in the Middle-Ages: A Critical Text and Literary Studies, (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1984), 231-232.
She what? She flew away? As soon as Lilith saw that they could not get along sexually, she uttered the Divine name and flew up into the air and fled? Medrish (Alphabet of Ben Sira 23a-b) Continues with this: After Lilith flew away, Odom began to daven (pray) before his Creator, saying: “Master of the universe, the woman that you gave me has fled.” God sent three angels and said to them: “Go bring back Lilith. If she wants to come, she shall come, and if she does not want to come, do not bring her against her will.
The three angels went and found her in the sea at the place where the Egyptians were destined to drown. There they grabbed her and said to her: “If you will go with us, well and good, but if not, we will drown you in the sea.”
Lilith said to them: My friends, I know God only created me to weaken infants when they are eight days old. From the day a child is born until the eighth day, I have dominion over the child, and from the eighth day onward I have no dominion over him if he is a boy, but if a girl, I rule over her twelve days.”
They said: “We won’t let you go until you accept upon yourself that each day one hundred of your children will die.” And she accepted it. That is why one hundred demons die every day. They would not leave her alone until she swore to them: “In any place that I see you or your names in an amulet, I will have no dominion over that child.” They left her. And she is Lilith, who weakens the children of men….
Some believe that this story is a serious attempt to explain the death of infants, while others are convinced it is a humorous tale of sexual quarrels and unsuccessful angels. The Lilith of this story confronts both Adam and God: she defies patriarchy, refuses a submissive sexual posture, and in the end refuses marriage altogether, preferring to become a demon rather than live under Odom’s authority. Disagreements over sexual positioning can avada cause strife in the bedroom.
This version of the Lilith tale in the Alphabet of Ben Sira quickly spread throughout Jewish life, and others expanded on it. And listen to this! The heylige Zoihar (a mystical work from 12th century) imagines Lilith not only as the first wife of Odom but also as the wife of Satan. In the kabolo, Lilith takes on cosmic power. She is a chaotic counterpart to the Shechina (the feminine Divine Presence, the bride of the Infinite). In fact, the Zoihar imagines that while the Jews suffer in exile, the Holy One (the masculine aspect of the Divine) separates from the Shekhinah, and consorts with Lilith. Lilith’s sexual-spiritual link with the Divine will only end when the Moshiach comes and the brokenness in the world is mended. What all that means ver veyst, but one thing is zicher: this Lilith person -whether she existed for real, or but in the imagination of some- is much talked about by respected individuals.
The bottom line: Since, being equal, they could not live together, the RBSO -according to this medrish- created the more submissive Chava from Odom’s rib (or side) to replace his lost first wife. This also explains why liliths are so aggressive against babies, the descendants of Lilith’s rival, Eve, and why they enjoy seducing poor innocent men while they are sleeping alone.
And before you start calling the heylige Ois an apikoires, be aware of the following: The idea that Odom had a first wife is mentioned in the medrish (Bereishis Rabba) three times. Check it out: 17:7, 18:4, and 22:7. It is also mentioned in the Rokeach on the Toirah 1:27. In the footnotes there Reb Chaim Kanievsky says this idea is also mentioned in the Alef Beis of Ben Sira, but doesn’t give any details. Who’s the apiokoires now? The bottom line: this theory has roots.
Eventually this idea of a “First Eve” was combined with legends of female “lillu” demons, who were believed to stalk men in their sleep and prey upon women and children. On the other hand, the only explicit reference to a “Lilith” in Tanach (Scriptures) appears in Isaiah 34:14, which reads: “The wild cat shall meet with the jackals, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow, yea, Lilith shall repose there and find her a place of rest.”
Be also aware that Lilith is mentioned four times in the heylige Gemora though in each of these cases she is not referred to as Odom’s wife. In Niddah 24b, the heylige Gemora discusses her in relation to abnormal fetuses and uncleanness, saying: “If an abortion had the likeness of Lilith its mother is unclean by reason of the birth, for it is a child, but it has wings.” Here we learn that the rabbis believed Lilith had wings and that she could influence the outcome of a pregnancy.
In Shabbis 151b, the Gemora also discusses Lilith, warning that a man should not sleep alone in a house lest Lilith fall upon him in his sleep. According to this and other texts, Lilith is a female succubus not unlike the lillu demons referenced above. The rabbis believed she was responsible for nocturnal emissions while a man was sleeping (that’s zicher a story one can wrap his hand around, if you chap) and that Lilith used the semen she collected to give birth to hundreds of demon babies. Lilith also appears in Baba Basra 73a-b, where a sighting of her son is described, and in Eruvin 100b, where the rabbis discuss Lilith’s long hair in relation to Eve.
As mentioned above, glimpses of Lilith’s eventual association with the “First Eve” can be seen in the medrish (Bereishis Rabbah 18:4). Here the rabbis describe the “First Eve” as a “golden bell” that troubles them in the night. “’A golden bell’… it is she who troubled me all night…Why do not all other dreams exhaust a man, yet this [a dream of intimacy takes place] does exhaust a man. Because from the very beginning of her creation she was but in a dream.”
The bottom line: Over the centuries the association between the “First Eve” and Lilith led to Lilith’s assuming the role of Adam’s first wife in Jewish folklore. Is this emes? Ver veyst?
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv