Monday, October 01, 2007


Here's a fun idea.

Juxtapose the following two verses:

From Genesis 2:7
    ז וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם, עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו, נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים; וַיְהִי הָאָדָם, לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה.

    7 Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
From Genesis 3:14:

    יד וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶל-הַנָּחָשׁ, כִּי עָשִׂיתָ זֹּאת, אָרוּר אַתָּה מִכָּל-הַבְּהֵמָה, וּמִכֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה; עַל-גְּחֹנְךָ תֵלֵךְ, וְעָפָר תֹּאכַל כָּל-יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ.

    14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent: 'Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.
Ah, says God. You wished to cause the downfall of man? You shall glut yourself on the dust forevermore, the very dust that formed him. But you shall never have that which you wanted, namely to sleep with Eve. (I love how this theme repeats itself in the Torah. The snake desires Eve, Og desires Sarah, various kings and Pharoahs desire Sarah, Zelicha desires Joseph and so on and so forth...) You shall have dust but you shall not have dust with a soul (i.e. humans.)

Alternatively, one could read "dust" as referring to man himself, that is, that the snake shall glut himself on the memory of what he did to man and the fact that he caused his downfall!


Daniel said...

I love how this theme repeats itself in the Torah. The snake desires Eve, Og desires Sarah

Strictly speaking, they're both midrash, not Torah, and not at all clear from the pshat (even the identification of Og as the 'fugitive' is midrashic (some people have it in the plural: 'those who escaped')). Pedantic, but you have made the distinction before, and I think you're right to point out that it is an important distinction.

Pedantry aside, very interesting point which I hadn't noticed before.

Every year, I approach Bereshit thinking (like Rashi), 'why don't we start with actual halakha, or at least with Avraham; then we could avoid all the tedious and pointless 'science vs the Torah' debates. And then I actually reread the sedra, and I find it so full of wonderful, poetic descriptions of the human condition, once you actually pay close attention to the details, treat it as literature and pay close attention to the choice of words, and think through all the implications, that I wonder how I could have thought I could do without it.

Anonymous said...

To understand the connection of phrases, you would first have to understand the role of the Nachash. Is the Nachash the Ego, living outside of Man, like the Daemons in His Dark Materials series? Perhaps eating from the tree brought the Nachash within man, that which was external and potentially warded off became engrained in the human consciousnes. Could we perhaps suggest that the Nachash "eating from the dust" was actually an expression of the Nachash's new occupation as man's "Yetzer HaRah", leaching off of him, or "feeding from the dust", the lowest point of man, that point which is even lower then the "cattle and all the wild beasts". Its a bit to Drashi for me, but its an idea.