The God Squad: More thoughts on climbing the same mountain to God…
Q: I feel we head up the mountain before we know we are looking for God. He knows us and he’s trying to clue us in. But we are a bit self-absorbed lot, we humans. We have spiritual ADHD. We hike around and up and down the “mountain” making twists and wrong turns.
Hopefully, we at some point get tired and realize there is something bigger than us and our eyes start looking up. We start to understand the direction to Him. And we either take the long trek up, or we don’t. But because we are human and not faultless God has given us many paths to travel up the mountain. He does not care how we get there He just wants us to “Get there!”
I’m 66 years old accepted Christ at 16. But at an even earlier age wondered about God. But I gotta say I was this old (66) when it was revealed to me that what God wants from me is fairly simple. … To praise him and worship him. So, at 66 I’m still climbing the mountain. And I know there were many different paths to get where I am going. And I’m not at the top yet. Anyway, thank you for your articles. Thank you for your humor, and your intelligent discussions. I’m sorry Tom has passed, but I think he’s near you every day. You are a Blessing to me and many others. Thank you! -- (From L from Long Island and South Carolina)
A: Thank you, dear L, for your kind words and incredible spiritual humility. I have two verses that remind me regularly of how I need to climb to God. The first is Psalm 37:3, “Trust in God and do good.” And the second is Psalm 100:2, “Serve the Lord in joy.” These verses always put me back on my spiritual feet when I stumble on a rocky patch of the Jewish path I have chosen. See you at the top of the mountain. God bless your climbing.
Q: Please, I need more clarification concerning the book of Genesis 1:27 where God almighty created then both man and woman. How can we reconcile that verse with Genesis chapter 2 verse 7 where God makes a man first and then makes a woman from the rib of the man? -- (From T)
A: Great question, T. There are clearly two totally different stories of the creation of the first people in Genesis. The first story is about the simultaneous creation of man and woman from red earth, “Male and female He created them.” The second account is the story of creating Adam first and then making Eve out of Adam’s rib. The first story leads to the belief that men and women are equally holy and the second implies that women are holy only derivatively. I believe the first story is the way God wants things to be -- gender equality based on the belief that we are all created in the image of God. The second story is unfortunately the way things are with male domination imposed upon passive women.
The Bible is full of examples like this. We have verses describing the best way to live and other verses that explain how things are not that way yet. For example, the Bible has in it laws permitting warfare while also including verses that limit war and undermine fighting and killing. There are laws about eating meat but also laws that clearly show God’s will for us to eat without killing. The Bible is both a description and a corrective at the same time. It is part of its spiritual genius.
The legends (midrashim) written by the rabbis after the biblical period commented on the two accounts of the creation of people in a spectacularly original way. They imagined and taught that these two accounts are actually the stories of the creation of two separate women. The first is the story of the creation of Lilith, Adam’s first wife, and the second is the story of the creation of Eve, Adam’s second wife. These two stories reconciled the two different creation accounts.
As they developed the stories of Lilith and Eve, Lilith was depicted as a bold feminist who pushed back at Adam’s male chauvinism. Their squabbles led to Lilith fleeing from Adam and becoming an alluring seductress. Eve, by contrast, became the obedient housewife.
Lilith and Eve represent the two poles of men’s attraction to women. Lilith is woman as an alluring sexual being and Eve is the loving domestic partner and mother. Eve is called “the mother of all living.”
I pray that we might in time be able to sanctify Lilith and empower Eve. Then we can achieve the common sanctity God surely wills for all of us.
(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman. Also, the new God Squad podcast is now available.)
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