Torah Study Notes 10-10-15

October 10, 2015

Page 29

We are now in the 3d of the triennial reading cycles.

4:25: “Adam was once again intimate for his wife… had knowledge of her… Then it was that the people began to invoke the Eternal…” This is a bit confusing in that Abraham is generally considered to be the first monotheist. Here the Eternal is invoked before Abraham. “There is no before or after in the Torah.” There is also a suggestion that this section marks the beginning of humankind. BR: Do the Rabbi’s discuss when life begins? What does this portion suggest as to that issue? RB: There is a reference elsewhere to the penalty for hurting a pregnant woman – that is not murder. The content of her womb is considered property – not life. Maimonides said that even during the birth process the fetus can be destroyed to save the life of the mother. The word “begot” here means “gave birth to.” So in that sense life begins at birth.

5:1 Genealogy with very long lives – leading to Noah.  Note that all of the numbers do not add up in the English translation – but they do in Hebrew. Life spans are drastically reduced after the flood. That was part of humankinds punishment for corruption.  See The Blue Zone for a discussion of longevity in the modern world. Note that there is no mention of woman being born. Adam begat sons and daughters but the daughters are never identified. What does “walked with god” mean here as to Enoch? It could mean a prolonged illness – a deep spirituality- or righteousness. JB At this pre-commandment time there were very few rules so it makes “walk with god” even more mysterious. This was prior to the giving of the Law. “God took him” could also mean that God took him so he would not be involved in the subsequent corruption.  The gematria here is extensive. See The Message Behind the Numbers at page 42.   One Hundred Twenty, seen as the ideal age, is 1 times 2 times 3 times 4 times 5. SN:  Methuselah’s longevity was enshrined by Gershwin see:

Methus’lah lived nine hundred years

Methus’lah lived nine hundred years

But who calls dat livin’ when no gal’ll give in

To no man what’s nine hundred years

I’m preachin’ dis sermon to show

It ain’t nessa, ain’t nessa

Ain’t nessa, ain’t nessa

It ain’t necessarily so

Some of these names are not seen again. See the software “Bibleworks.”

Note that Rabbi Berkowitz’s Midrash class starts on October 20th.

6:1 Finally there is mention of daughters. Strange references to “divine beings” here. No divine female creatures. The rabbi’s don’t want to talk about all of this so there is very little midrash. Nepthali means “to fall.” Consider A Wrinkle in Time – the 4th book is really a midrash on this section. This can also be read as a strong statement against the mythology that is found in other cultures – such as the Greek. It argues that there is no such thing as “superhuman.” See also Madeline L’Engel’s “Many Waters.”

6:5 I will wipe the humans I have created off the face of the earth… but Noah found favor in God’s sight. See Midrash on handout sheets.

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