Lilith, Adam, Eve, and the real original sin How a simple story provides us the path towards humankind 2.0

Lilith doesn’t get much mention in early Jewish literature. A passing reference to a haunting creature in the prophecy of Isaiah,1 a few oblique Midrashic references to a Woman 1.0 that preceded the final version,2 and a handful of warnings The concept of Lilith is really telling us much about a fault in the nature of men. She could even be seen as the one propelling man to fix himself, to recreate himself, to bring himself to his own 2.0.concerning her spirit in the Talmud.3

Zohar, on the other hand, contains at least 30 references. In later literature of Halachah, Kabbalah, and liturgy, she makes more common appearances, but always remaining quite mysterious.

But what is Lilith really all about? She seems more a quirk in the cosmic system than just another spirit. Indeed, in later kabbalistic literature, she’s referred to as the “feminine side of evil.”

Looking yet deeper, the concept of Lilith is really telling us much about a fault in the nature of the masculine side of humankind. She could even be seen as the one propelling man to fix himself, to recreate himself, to bring himself to his own 2.0.

Lilith Is From Tohu; Eve Is From Tikun

Lilith, as I wrote, was Woman1.0. As first releases often go, she was difficult, judgmental, and generally not too friendly. (As we’ll see, Adam 1.0 had—and still has—his own issues.) That’s what Adam alluded to in his enigmatic dual metaphor, “This time [she is] a bone from my bones, flesh from my flesh.”4 “Bone of my bones”—meaning: a personality as inflexible as a dry bone.5

Adam dumped that one fast. As the Midrash cited above puts it, “she returned to the dust.”

“Flesh from my flesh” refers to Woman 2.0, a.k.a. Chava (somehow that became “Eve” in English).6 She was more easy-going, less critical, far more responsive—as flesh is relative to bones. This worked really well for a long-term relationship. (You can’t say “user-friendly” on 2.0, since this was really a peer-to-peer relationship. We’ll get to that soon.)

As for Lilith/Woman 1.0, she endures only as a spirit without a body, Lilith was a woman of absolutes, intolerant of anything but perfection in her man and in his relationship to her.haunting mankind (as opposed to womankind) until we achieve Adam 2.0.

The two versions had much to do with the technology implemented. The Lilith 1.0 version relied on technology from the World of Tohu. That’s a world, previous to ours, built entirely on absolutes. Absolute light, absolute darkness, absolute kindness…and absolute harshness.

Tohu Technology was an all around failure, resulting in a major system crash throughout the cosmos. In the aftermath—and pretty much in response to that disaster—the World of Tikun was formed.

In Tikun, everything was balanced and harmonized in a holistic and relativistic system. Light was tempered with darkness and darkness with light. Kindness knew what it means to be harsh—and could even use that harshness if necessary to attain even greater kindness. As for Harshness, it lost its autonomous modality altogether, becoming no more than an adjunctive function to Kindness.

So it was with Lilith and Chava (Eve). Lilith was a woman of absolutes, intolerant of anything but perfection in her man and in his relationship to her. Not a great recipe for a marriage. Chava was ready to look the other way for the sake of the relationship, aware that things are never perfect, but love can make it work. She contained within her some of Adam and could feel his heart’s rhythm within her own.

Woman was upgraded. The problem was, Adam wasn’t.

Adam’s Original Sin

The first sin of humankind can be traced to Adam’s failure in response to Chava: The Ari (Rabbi Yitzchaak Luria, 1534–1572) explains that The Ari explains that Adam was meant to wait until Friday night to have relations with Chava. That’s her time, her space.Adam was meant to wait until Friday night to have relations with Chava—which is the appropriate time for those relations.7 He failed in this regard, resulting in her loneliness, which allowed for that whole snake-virus invasion.

The Tzemach Tzedek (Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, 1789-1866) elucidates and illuminates this teaching of the Ari: 8

When it comes to sanctity and getting things right, preparation is everything. In order to be involved in this relationship in a human, inner way, both parties need to prepare and wait for the appropriate timing. Shabbat night is the appropriate time for Chava. She is Shabbat. This is her time, this is her space.

Besides, Chava needs to first develop an emotional relationship Adam treated the relationship in a top-down fashion, as though Chava was no more than an accessory to him. Bad deal for Chava, not too good for Adam, either.with Adam. She needs to exist first as a person in his eyes, and only then can she truly bond with him.

So we see that Adam retained remnants of the earlier Tohu protocol, namely its top-down hierarchy. Tohu was all about unidirectional data flow: Information descends from the Infinite Light to create and sustain a world—and that’s where it stops. No dynamics for user feedback. Zero learning curve. Basically, the end client (“user”) is treated like just another accessory to the hardware/software and I/O.

That’s the way, after all, the world was originally created. G‑d spoke and it was. There was no interest in user feedback; you couldn’t ask the created beings, “What do you think if we do it like this?”—because there were no created beings, no users, since that’s what was being invented. So creation, initially at least, was entirely a top-down protocol.

All this was reflected in Adam’s attitude toward Chava. He treated the relationship in a top-down fashion, as though she was no more than an accessory to him. Bad deal for Chava, not too good for Adam, either.

Recognizing the Other

Adam also needs time. His role is to be more than a seed-delivery mechanism. He needs to be the Provider and Protector of his family. When he charges impetuously into a physical relationship driven by his own hormonal urges, he subverts all of that, effectively reversing the roles: Chava now holds the goods and he’s degraded himself to the point of begging for them. Or worse, he’s grabbing the goods and causing even more harm.

Adam was stuck in the old protocol. He should have learned from G‑d’s own modality-shift with him: Having created the world, G‑d turned to Adam to initiate a two-way, interactive relationship. Adam awoke to a latent world, where life lay just below the surface of the soil, “for there was no Adam to work the soil.” In this case, Adam was bright enough to figure out what was demanded of him. He prayed for rain, “and a mist rose to water the garden.”

From that point The greatest challenge of every man, and his greatest epiphany, is to recognize that, hey, there’s someone else here besides me.on, the protocol had changed. If the initial act of Creation was a free lunch, the soup kitchen was now closed. From now on, nothing in the entire cosmos could receive without giving, or give without receiving. Not even Adam or Chava.

Ever since, this has been the greatest challenge of every man who has felt for a woman: the challenge to be a man and rein in his own one-way urge. The challenge to recognize that, hey, there’s someone else here besides me (yes, the greatest epiphany that could occur in a man’s life). This is a person, an “other,” a “not-me”—and maybe she’s not in the same space as me quite yet. The challenge to wait and to share.

If he fails, he becomes a slave and in the long run, despised and used by the woman he believes he has conquered. If he succeeds, he unites with her and is respected by her. The children that are born from that union are granted peace between their own bodies and souls. In miniature, he has repaired the entire cosmos—and that itself is reflected systemically throughout all of Creation.

Everything starts at home, even world peace.9

Revised October 2020.