Berkshire Jewish News (Bereishit 5777)
Thanks to everyone who came together to create a special and uplifting Yom Kippur and Succot for a second year running. Special thanks to those who helped build and decorate our succah, to those who assured a minyan and to our kiddush sponsors.
We especially loved welcoming so many new and familiar faces into our Succah and welcoming two new families into our growing community and cheder.
JCoB announces a special video to help you get to know our community: https://youtu.be/n5l-qIHBM0c
Here is a video of our cheder doing Hallel on Hoshana Rabba
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KOSHER FOOD NEWS
Just Kosher (justkosher.co.ouk) will be delivering food to Reading on Sunday 30 October. If you need only a few items or urgently need challot or other essentials, contact Rebbetzin Shira
We publish a list of sick people (cholim) every week so that the community can pray for their recovery. For reasons of privacy, this is not published online but is in the emailed version of the newsletter.
Eve (On Bereishit 5777)
Who is the most beautiful human being ever to have lived?
The Rabbis have an interesting answer: Adam. Next to him, Eve was apparently a mere gorilla.
However next to Eve, the rest of humanity are mere chimps. This ambivalence marks the view of our great female ancestor in Jewish tradition.
This week we read of our common ancestors Adam and Eve. Contrary to general opinion, there are midrashim which teach us that human beings were created male and female at the same time. The Torah teaches us that Man and Woman were created together (male and female created he them) and then goes on to describe how Eve was fashioned out of one of Adam’s ribs. However in the Midrash in Genesis Rabba 8:1 speaks of God creating a beast with two backs (an idea also referred to in the Greek myths) and then splitting it to make Man and Woman.
Adam and Eve were made fully adult, aged about 20. That means that they were in the full vigour of their lives. However they did not have the experience of someone of that age. There is some dispute over which was wiser, but since it would be most unchivalrous in this column to cite any denigrations of the female of the species, I shall content myself by observing that the Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 18:1) teaches that our Creator gave women more understanding than men, deriving it from the word the Torah uses for building (va-yiven) the woman from the rib.
According to some midrashim the Almighty made two Eves – the first one entering the world bloody and wet like a newborn baby. Adam rejected her – perhaps because of her gory appearance, or perhaps (according to other midrashim) because she wanted to have complete equality with him. Adam rejected her and we are unsure what happened to her. Some say she was returned to dust, some that she was the cause of the argument which caused the murder of Abel by Cain. Some say that the first Eve lurks in the darker places of the earth, as Lilith the mother of all demons. The two Eves idea comes from a verse in the Torah where Adam exclaims, “This one at last is bone of my bones.” (Genesis 2:23).
My archaeological training lends understanding to the idea that Eve is a prototype mother figure. The Rabbis say that she became the model for the mother goddess much beloved of ancient cultures – often depicted suckling her young. This of course has current christological aspects.
Eve is in some ways the first tragic figure in the Bible. She is set up to fail with the test of the trees – Adam does not tell her what God said but makes up additional rules which leave her open to serpentine exploitation. She is punished more severely by having to take the animal part in giving birth, and on top of this has to watch her younger son murdered by her older one – of whom she said “I have acquired a man”, indicating the antediluvian nature of Jewish motherhood.
It is said that Eve, the mother of all life, is buried next to her husband Adam in the cave of Machpela in Hevron. May her memory be a blessing.
Rabbi Zvi Solomons
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen’s latest blog on ‘Agnostic’ can be found on http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/agnostic.html
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Rabbi Zvi Solomons
The only Orthodox Rabbi in Berkshire