If you look carefully at the first chapters of the Torah, you will notice two different creation stories. Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 were traditionally understood to be one and the same narrative, but there are many clear differences between them. As we studied together in the waning minutes of Simhat Torah, the most glaring discrepancy is in the status of woman.
As we learned from Judy Klitsner’s book, Subversive Sequels in the Bible, woman in chapter one is part of ha-adam, the first human creature. But in chapter two, ha-adam is distincitvely male; woman, which he himself names ha-ishah–is fashioned from his side. Klitsner points out that the act of naming has both a controlling and a validating quality to it. On one hand, when I give something a name, I define it; on the other hand, I give it an independent identity.
In which direction will the Torah move in its description of woman? Will she return to the position of equality with man that she held in chapter one, or will the “derivative” nature of her being as told in chapter two keep her off that even plane? Come back on Shabbat and see how Klitzner reads the story of the Garden, and whether we should be impressed or troubled by this classic narrative.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,