Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In God's Image

"And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27
The story of Adam and Eve is one of the most difficult in the Torah. In the first two chapters of Genesis, we witness the creation of a beautiful world, full of new and wonderful things, watched over by a caring God. However, by chapter 3 paradise is already slipping out of our grasp. When I was young, Genesis filled me with a profound sense of loss. Mankind had disobeyed God, lost its innocence, and been expelled from the Garden of Eden in such a short amount of time. "How stupid," I thought, "to risk paradise for an apple."

Over time, my reading of Genesis has changed. My opinion of Adam and Eve significantly improved upon my conversion to Judaism. Jewish theology does not have the baffling idea of original sin that I was raised to associate with Genesis and, as a result, we don't have to lament the "fall of man" that consumes Christian interpretations. I can read Bereishit with a positive spin and there is plenty of positive material to work with when given the opportunity.

This year, instead of thinking "How stupid!" I thought, "How brave to risk so much for knowledge." Mankind was motivated by a desire to be more like God. We are, after all, made in God's image. The story of Bereishit introduces our innate curiosity, our hunger for understanding, and our striving to be closer to God. Throughout the Torah, God will address our desires by teaching us how to approach God appropriately through mitzvot.