Breishit: A Path to Follow

If the first human(s) are created “male and female” in Genesis/Breishit 1:27, who is created from the adam’s rib (or side) in 2:18-25?

One old answer (found in Genesis Rabbah) is that the two creation stories refer to different women, with God creating a second wife for Adam after the first relationship failed, for unspecified reasons. Later tales link this unnamed wife with the demon Lilith, a traditional character who appears to pre-date the bible.

The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia entry on “Lilith,” concludes: “Lilith is a clear instance of the persistence of popular superstitious beliefs.”

More recently, however, Jill Hammer writes: “Lilith has become such a popular figure that whole enterprises (like the women’s music concert Lilith Fair and the Jewish feminist journal Lilith Magazine) are named after her. Once a source of fear, Lilith has been transformed into an icon of freedom….”

These on-line articles provide a starting point for exploring the first woman. For more sources — including materials for youth — visit the Jewish Women’s Archives.

Lilith in Literature
For more on Lilith in contemporary literature, check out Which Lilith: Feminist Writers Re-create the World’s First woman, edited by Enid Dame, Lilly Rivln and Henny Wenkart. Jason Aronson, 1998.

“kicked myself out of paradise….

I work in New Jersey
take art lessons
live with a cab driver….

sometimes I cry in the bathroom
remembering Eden
and the man and the god
I couldn’t live with” — from “Lilith” by Enid Dame

More Judaic Sources
For more on the first biblical humans, here are two references replete with quotes and notes from other sources, traditional and contemporary, to launch further study:
Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible, Midrash and Modern Jewish Poetry. Anne Lapidus Lerner. Brandeis University Press, 2007.

Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism. Howard Schwartz. Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.

For additional citations, please see Source Materials.

Click on the “WeeklyTorah” tag for more resources on the weekly portion throughout the year, or on a portion name for parashah-specific notes. (The series began with Numbers; posts for Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus are being drafted, week-by-week.) You can also zero-in on particular types of “Opening the Book” posts by clicking Language and Translation, Something to Notice, a Path to Follow, or Great Source in the tag cloud.

The “Opening the Book” series is presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group pursuing spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.

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One thought on “Breishit: A Path to Follow”

  1. Lilith and the Secret of Tones

    The ancient lore speaks of Lilith the foul
    Sweet Sumerian, screeching night owl
    Seeking dames of a feather
    Casting sound spells, flocking together

    Misty sirens hear them sing
    We hear them all as our ears ring
    Some of us fall upon the rocky beach
    Some to flight beyond ocean’s reach

    Mirror, mirror, oh mirror ball
    Who is the fairest of them all?
    Oh, but Sarah, lovely princess pure
    Her voice the clearest, most dearest lure

    In the rhyme of time, Lilith flies
    Again and again reborn in disguise
    Soft, gentle, as if to further
    Something hidden within her worth her

    The dream, the hope, the bidden foe
    All man’s glory in the glow
    Yet watch, for there is a chance of slight peace
    As in McDonald’s tome of a beast

    Oh better the whole story be told
    And everyone be wiser, young and old
    Watch, listen, feel the bold tone
    You will be the rock…. or turned to stone

    Stoned by Medusa, she herself did call
    Her names were many before the fall
    Adam’s first, or was it the moon’s child?
    Tugged along tide, wet with ocean’s smile

    Was she neutral with the angel’s Holy Grail
    Or quite complicit with Samael’s tale?
    Templars have wondered for generations past
    To the present, the future, a reciprocal impasse

    Androgyny’s children, the touch of orphan’s saint
    Giving solace to those fumbling in ecstatic faint
    Alchemic swirls of the aqua permanence
    The philosophers gem surfacing to dance

    Where is the treasure lost, hidden now-
    Off the coast, in Oak Island’s frothy maw?
    Even Lilith knows not where
    The White Lady of Rosslyn keeps her chair….

    In Rosslyn’s castle, and Holy Chapel Choir
    Drifts the tone in stone of everyone’s desire
    Played in the mist, along River Esk’s glen
    Old Scotland, New Scotland, she taunts all men

    With a treasure, it never fails to mesmerize
    If one whispers just right by truth to wise
    Some even say Lilith herself will appear
    As the holy light, St Clair, so clear

    Oh, but that may be the forgone illusion
    The lighted law that leads to delusion
    The cup that is full but never doth flows
    Drawn in and out, pretending to glow

    Aye, careful then, watch and learn
    Forever her rhymes twist to turn
    When you believe a part of you
    Begs to love all…. of her crystal blue

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