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    Adam: Two models – B’reshit

    leonardo da vinci body man person scienceParashat B’reshit rolls round the Sefer Torah to the story of Adam.

    A famous analysis by Rav Soloveitchik says there were two Adams. We might call them practical Adam and poetical Adam.

    In a more basic sense there are two other Adams – Adam as Mankind, and Adam as a particular individual, the progenitor, with Eve, of all life.

    Rabbinic exposition addressed both issues.


    The angels urged God not to create Man. He would only mar God’s work; he would lie and cheat and be cruel and be quarrelsome. God would not have a moment’s peace.

    God heard the angels out but decided to go ahead regardless.

    The same Man who could do so much harm could also perform wondrous deeds of love and mercy, and be the Almighty’s co-worker in making the world beautiful.

    God divided the world into many parts.

    Man too has many parts. The hands are to be constructive and helpful, the feet to run to do good deeds, the heart to feel for other people, the mind to think ahead and plan his actions.

    God made Man in His image.

    This cannot be understood in a physical sense. “Image” is meant in a spiritual, intellectual and moral sense. Man can never be God, but he has godlike qualities which he can use to his own benefit and the glory of God.


    Even as an individual, Adam’s head was formed from the dust of Jerusalem, his body from the dust of Babylon and his other parts from the rest of the world. He belonged everywhere, and everything was at his disposal.

    When Adam was created the angels feared he would be their rival. Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him and the angels knew he was mortal. Man was not meant to be angelic but to live in the world and be truly human.

    Why was Adam created last? Such a magnificent being, and the tiny fly came before him!

    One view: if he became too high and mighty God could remind him, “Don’t be so arrogant. Even the fly was made before you!”

    Another view: the stages of Creation became more refined as they progressed. All the earlier creations led up to the pinnacle represented by Adam.

    The words, “This is the book of the generations of Adam” (Gen. 5:1), mean that God showed him all that would happen in the generations to come. If he disobeyed God, however, the whole future would be affected.

    Nothing Adam did was without its effect on history.

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