Remember the first time you ever
heard of the Garden of Eden in this week’s Torah portion? I’m pained to confess
I more readily remember the first time I heard about Darwin.
In terms of formal education, I’ve
spend a lot more time in secular classrooms than in Torah classrooms. And I
remember quite clearly learning the Theory of Evolution as a child. It was
But as an adult with quite a bit
of secular studies under my belt, and a little Torah learning, I know that it
was also devastating. When you teach a child that she or he is a cousin of the
chimpanzee, and ultimately descends from an amoeba or a virus, this causes a
devastation in the child’s soul.
Now I’m not going to explain in
this brief note why I think Darwin’s theory can be put in its place by means of
critical thinking. Here I just want to express how grateful I am to the Torah
for teaching us that when our oldest ancestors first opened their eyes, it was not
a jungle that they saw around them.
It was a divine garden. A garden
named Delight. Eden.
Where is Eden? It’s the place
where we cultivate the soil of our Delight, “tilling it and tending it”
(Genesis 2:15) with the sweatless brow of our mitzvot, making it a lovely
little paradise, safely enclosed from the surrounding jungle and its restless
monkey calls, in which to spend precious hours with Holy One Who put us there.
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