As the guilt associated with my mother's death recedes, the great problem that has haunted me since the late 80's reappears: My failure to engage life on its terms.
The Tora addresses this problem in its first four chapters.*
In Genesis 1 it says that we were created in Elohim's image and likeness. The commentators disagree on what this means, but the Tora itself tells us its meaning: "Let us make Adam in our likeness and image and they will have dominion [over all the animals and over all the earth]. And Elohim created the Adam in His image-- in the image of Elohim He created him-- male and female He created them... be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth and have dominion over all the animals." (Gn 1:26-28)
I quote all this only to show that the image and likeness of Elohim is all about creating-- with sex being the biological manifestation of creativity and 'subduing' and dominion being the technological manifestation of it. (loving being the emotional manifestation and morality the spiritual manifestation)
We see from this that according to the Tora, the creative impulse is the 'meat' of life-- the very image and likeness of God! But 'meat' needs spice for flavor (i.e. direction), so the purpose of Tora is to provide that 'spice'. In the words of a midrash in the Talmud (Kid.30b): "I've created the 'bad inclination' (yetser hara), and I've created Tora as its spice (tavlin).
In Genesis 3 Eve is told that her desire (teshuka) will be for her husband, but he can rule (MShL) over 'it'" ('it' being a feminine noun referring to either Eve, desire, or both). In the very next story (ch. 4) Cain is told by YHWH that "Sin crouches at the door and to you is its desire (teshuka), but you can rule (MShL) over it." ('sin' being man's inability control desire)
What does it mean that a woman's desire will be for her husband, and her [husband] can rule over 'it' and Cain being told that sin desires him and he can rule over it?
A midrash (Br. Rab.20:7) says that "There are four primal teshhukas/'desires' in the world: Eve for Adam; the yetser hara's desire for Cain; the desire that rain has for land; and the desire God has for the Jewish people."
In Judaism, the 'bad inclination' is not really 'bad', it is just something that needs to be 'ruled' (MShL).
Thus Eve (i.e. 'woman' in general) and the yetser hara** desire to share the life force (Eve/Chava means 'life') with Adam (i.e. 'man' or 'mankind' depending on the context); but can Adam take this 'gift' of energy and direct it properly?***
Another way of saying this is that Elohim starts things off with a 'bang' (the 'Six days of Creation') and YHWH helps me pick up the pieces (the 'Seventh Day')
* I thank Rabbi David Fohrman for his explanation of the first two stories in the Tora and their accompanying midrashes
** the yetser hara ('yetser' literally means to form or create) is the
'main dish'-- the sum total of all our desires, passions, and ambitions, but without direction, hence the 'bad'/hara designation (bad/RA literally means shaky/unsettled, whereas good/TOV literally means sunk-in/settled)
*** Since 'tora' literally means guidance and instruction, it encompasses any teaching that properly directs the raw creative drive. From Moses putting a bronze snake on a pole in the desert in order to heal anyone who looked at it from the snake-bites brought on by their despair to modern psychology which seeks to equalize the pressure between the conscious (Adam) and the unconscious (Eve / yetser hara), both techniques seek to 'straighten' a 'crooked' relation to the life force on the 'pole' of tora (proper instruction/direction)
The 'apophatic' (knowledge obtained through negation) formulations below are the spiritual foundation of everything I've written in this blog.
God cannot create create something other than Himself.
God cannot hide from Himself the fact that He is God.
The former destroys 'Western' Dualism; the latter destroys 'Eastern' Non-Dualism.
Since the two 'axioms' cancel each other out, I am free from both both 'East' and 'West'.
What this does is to clear a space [between 'East' and 'West' with Israel located at the center-- the mean point where meaning is] that allows the ruach haKodesh (the 'wind' from the Temple / 'Center' / the mean / Israel) to move out to the rest of the earth. ("Let there be light... a light to the nations.")