March 18, 2019

Purim, Patriarchy, And A Path Forward

“The patriarchy begins in response to human beings’ primal sin. Eve is told that because she ate (and fed her husband) from the Tree of Knowledge, he will now rule over her. (Genesis 3:16) Presumably prior to the sin, Eve and Adam were equal partners, each of them an ezer kenegdo, a helpful counterpoint to each other.

In Bavli Eruvin 54a, Rav Acha bar Yakov suggests that the word, חרות or engraved, which is used to describe the Tablets of the Law in Exodus 32:16 can also be read as חרות, meaning freedom. Rabbi Avraham Schorr, in his work Halekach v’Halebuv (Parshat Shekalim), takes this idea further and suggests that when Israel accepted the Torah at Sinai, they became free from the pall of humans’ original sin and they were restored to an Edenic state. Death was vanquished and God’s immediate presence could once again be felt by humans. When shortly afterwards Israel commits the sin of the golden calf, they are again catapulted back into a world of transgression, impurity and gender inequality.

Purim is identified by the Rabbis of the Talmud as a second Sinai. On Purim, the Jewish people accepted the Torah and God’s covenant anew (Bavli Shabbat 88a). If the original Sinai restored Israel to an Eden-like state, Purim as a Sinai redux should also hold hints of the original spiritual Eden experience.”

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