Dear Friend,

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 fascinating.

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.

Michael Chighel,
on behalf of the Editorial Team