Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adam and Eve- What can we learn

Who were Adam and Eve? They were the first human beings to have the breath of G-D blown into them. However, does that mean that they were created as humans originally or is it possible that evolution occurred and once monkey like creatures evolved into man, then G-D blew life into that creature? Either way man exists, but his origin still remains vague and unclear. The bible describes the creation of the world, but it is so cryptic that it is really impossible to understand its true meaning. Even stranger, there are opinions in Judaism, such as the Rambam, that hold that Adam and Eve are allegorical.

The question to ask here is does it really matter what we think Adam was or is the importance the lessons we can learn from his story. Actually, this is a question one can ask throughout all of history, does it matter what Abraham Lincoln looked like or does it just matter what he did? Was Julius Cesar a tyrant or a great leader? These are all questions that are, in essence, irrelevant since we can never know the truth for certain, but we can definitely learn lessons from his life.

Now that we understand that the Adam story is allegorical and what should be learned is the lesson so what is the lesson? The Rambam in his famous book The Guide for the Perplexed says, "In the history of the first sin of man, Adam, Eve, and the serpent represent the intellect, the body, and the imagination. In order to complete the imagery, Samael or Satan, mentioned in the Midrash in connection with this account, is added as representing man's appetitive faculties. Imagination, the source of error, is directly aided by the appetitive faculty, and the two are intimately connected with the body, so which man generally gives paramount attention, and for the sake of which he indulges in sins; in the end, however, they subdue the intellect and weaken its power. Instead of obtaining pure and real knowledge, man forms false conceptions; in consequence, the body is subject to suffering, whilst the imagination, instead of being guided by the intellect and attaining a higher development becomes debased and depraved." The Rambam is trying to teach us that giving into our desires causes our intellect to suffer. By giving into our animalistic desires we take away from our ability to achieve a higher intellect and more knowledge.

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