Wednesday, October 03, 2007

On Second Glance

Verse per verse: The Weekly Storah
By Naomi Less

Ahh, the Garden of Eden! Just when you think you’re done purging your sins on Yom Kippur, you turn around and it’s Simchat Torah – back to the beginning – back to the first recorded sin. Eve, The Serpent and Adam ...Whose decision was it?

In Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 6, our friends at JPS translate the verse as follows:

When the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a source of wisdom, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, and he ate.

I’m interested in that word ‘saw’ – or tereh. Was it something about the appearance of the tree that Eve saw on the surface that caused her to be magnetically and uncontrollably drawn to that tree? James Kugel translates that “the woman understood that the tree was good…”

This struck me – Eve understood. She had an epiphany. The snake didn’t convince her or trick her. She wasn’t force-fed. She had external information that she listened to, evaluated, surmised and made a decision. She added one and one and realized it would be fruitful to access this wisdom. Only then, did she eat. Eve had a trigger, a catalyst that caused her to rise up to the 20,000 feet perspective and literally see the forest for the trees. And then she saw. And then, she made her decision.

The nachash, the serpent, was arum, usually translated as clever or subtle . Interestingly though, the root of of that word A.R.M. (ayin.resh.mem) is the same root as the word for “naked” – arom. The serpent had candor and gave eve the naked truth to help her gain perspective.

Eve is a model for decision-making. She had an outside source of information, a trigger, a catalyst that caused her to check her assumptions. She weighed and evaluated – and then made a strong decision. So, instead of blaming Eve for the first sin, we should thank her for creating the first internal decision-making process. All we can do, in this life, is receive those information sources, seek perspective and hope that we can make strong and confident decisions based on the information we have and our ability to evaluate. Thanks, Eve!


  1. thanks Naomi! THANK YOU SO MUCH for kicking off this new cycle of verse per verse.
    Seeing IS believing in this case. Interesting in how in later biblical texts and legal jewish writings there are strong prohibitions and warnings about 'seeing temptations' - leading to women covering their hair, body, etc. THe original sin is actually the original SEEN... and, of course, the original SCENE of the crime... here's to a great new cycle of storhwisdom!

  2. Great work Naomi! But wasn't Eve's attention drawn to the tree because of YHWH's command not to eat of it? We can think of no surer way to guarantee fruit chompin'. We also give Eve credit for discerning the serpent's truth from YHWH's fib.

    Can't wait till your next piece. Your fans - a & s