Category Archives: Torah Takeaway

How To Create: Happy New Year!

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The Jewish New Year is considered the birthday of creation, giving us time to celebrate and contemplate existence. There are two creation stories in Judaism (the same original text as the Christian creation story). Surprise! The first creation story (Genesis 1:1-2:3) is remarkably similar to the Babylonian creation story, likely when it was written. The first story is focused on big picture creation—heaven, earth, animals etc.—and the order of days. The second creation (Genesis 2:5-3:24) story gets more into people (Adam and Even) in the Garden of Eden and explains a few important things: 1. Why snakes slither 2. Why people are afraid of snakes 3. Why childbirth is painful and women have no rights. 4. Why men have to work for food. 5. Why we wear clothes. 6. Why we know stuff, but don’t live forever. (One can argue there is even a third creation story, after the flood destroys earth and Noah’s ark contains the only survivors.)

As human beings, our ability to create is profound. Sometimes we lose track of this important spark (some might say it is divine). Here are a few tips from NPR on how to get your creative on in the New Year.

Spark Your Creativity

  1. Take A Shower
  2. Work in a Blue Room
  3. Live Abroad
  4. Watch a Funny Video
  5. Sleep on It

Side note: On Dominating the animals.
The language of dominating the animals in genesis is not exactly, shall we say, keeping with modern ideas of environmentalism. The word in hebrew for “dominate”, however, has different connotations. Rashi, a famous Jewish scholar, interpreted the phrase in a different way:  

  • Heb. וְיִרְדּוּ The expression vayirdu may imply dominion as well as declining—if he is worthy, he dominates over the beasts of the earth and the cattle, and if he is not worthy, he will sink lower than them, and the beasts will rule over him.

This article from MyJewishLearning explains how the two creation stories have conflicting ideas of nature.  Another Huffington Post writer challenges the idea of dominion, as well.

*Image: Lucas Cranach the Elder’s 480-year-old “Adam and Eve” diptych currently on view at the Norton Simon Museum. (But go soon, this Nazi-looted piece may soon be returned to the original family.) 

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