Gender Reading of the Stories of Creation and Understanding the Roots of the Patriarchal Thinking
By Tamir Ashman
In the book of Genesis there are two stories which describe the creation of man and are different in their essence. The first story of creation, which appears in chapter 1, describes succinctly the process of creating the world and the creation of man, as well as the initial relationship between the god and his first human creations. However, the second story of creation, which appears in chapter 2, describes in relatively length a process of hierarchical birth, in which the man was the first born to humanity, and the woman was created from his rib. The story is known as the “the ancient sin” and continues up until the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge which to the expelling of Adam and Eve from heaven.
Reading these stories provides an important glimpse about the ancient relations between the genders, that lay the foundations of patriarchal thinking and the conception of powers ratio between men and women in our own genders reality. In this paper I’ll try to remind that along side of the familiar patriarchal reality, in which the relations are based on the man’s control of the woman, the story of genesis hides an alternative story, which presents a possibility to different relations, based on collaboration, mutual recognition and equal status. Throughout the paper to avoid a gender characterization, I chose to use the Hebrew term for plural god.
To me, reading the bible is an ancient and breathing love. The bible provides me with deep insights about the culture and the society, about the inter personal and group behavior, and about the mental struggles of the biblical stories. I hope I’ll succeed to transpire the curiosity and excitement which I experience with the biblical clauses during my continuous dialogue with the roots of the Jewish thought.
During the past 20 years I’ve been treating men who behave violently in the marital intimate space, in the framework of a center to prevent violence inside the family in Tel Aviv. During those years I escorted dozens of men who are dealing with a complex reality of life, which without noticing commemorate the punishment of the first man in their lives and sentence themselves a life of control in their emotional world and their spouse. The brave sharing of these men in the therapeutic group sessions has influenced a lot about writing this paper. The personal struggle of my male patients to release themselves from the cables of the patriarchal culture, gives me a strong faith in our ability as a society to free ourselves from this oppressing culture.
The anthropologist Ashly Montegue wrote in his book “about the human aggression”: “the doctrine of the ancient sin was one of the powerful and influential principles on the Jewish-Christian belief” (Montegue, 1978). And indeed, most of us remember and are familiar with the story of man’s creation, according to which the man was created first and the woman was created from his rib. Considering the gender reality described in the bible, which was rooted in our culture and is reflected to today, it is not a coincidence that the earlier version, that tells the story of the equal birth of the first man and woman, was forgotten in the collective memory.
Personally, I never embraced the conception of the man as a sinner or evil from his youth. During the decades of treating violent men I haven’t met a single bad person. I met a lot of men who are feeling bad in their patriarchal cage. The evil is not the drive for actions of submission, control and violence, but the anxiety which is found at the base of human existence.
As pretentious as this may sound, in this paper I am asking to acquit Adam and Even of their actions which expanded the human boundaries, and describe the punishment as a narrative choice that was designated to teach and commemorate the patriarchal reality which will be born and rooted from these days to present time; a reality which we ask to quit of. The paper is composed of two parts, in its first part I’ll present the story of the ancient sin (genesis chapters 2-3), and in the second part I’ll describe a different reality between men and women, those which are based on trusting the other, reciprocity and cooperation.
The creation of man: The ancient sin version
Genesis 2: 7-9, 16
Then the lord formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the lord god had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the lord god commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden”
This is how it started. God created the man from ashes and put in his human lungs his breath which gave him life. In order to exist, the man needs a physical space, and god created him a habitat in which he’s placed with a defined purpose – to guard the garden. The first man has one boundary: not to eat the fruits from the tree of knowledge good and bad. In the patriarchal reality the alliance between god and humanity is done between god and the male. The woman will be born as his little sister later on.
Genesis 2: 18 – 25
The lord god said, “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the lord had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So, the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So, the lord god caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed the place with flesh. Then the lord god made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
In the clause of ‘it is not good that the man should be alone’ the lord is attentive and empathic to the needs of the first man. He almost recognizes the human dependence which the man “suffers”. The lord acknowledges the fact that he had created an animal which its soul is different than the rest of the creations; an animal that is not satisfied I his relationship with the creation but needs another soul. Out of the recognition in his distress the god father looks at the man he had created and noticed that he suffers from loneliness and existential emptiness in heaven and offers him help – searching for another soul which will complete him.
I will make him an help meet for him
The search of the father – god after the “help to meet for him” for the first man is fascinating, and it has many interpretations in the bible. I find in the therapy groups a lot of men who use this clause to justify in their perspective the destructive power that the woman obtains: “the woman was created to meet the man”, “she just wants to fail me”, “she’s trying to seduce me with her power, and then when she gets what she wants she no longer treats me”, “this is well known, the man is the sun and the woman is the moon”.
In my perspective this is a flattening of the expression. In fact, the combination of the words “help to meet for him” plays a deep paradox that always exists in the interpersonal relationships – “the paradox of acknowledgement”, which is based on dual relations between the need of recognition from the other and the need of independence and autonomy. The word “help” is opposite to the word “against”, obtains different meanings – to oppose the man but to be beside him as well, as his mirror. There is a dual relationship between the man and the woman; the first man reveals that he can validate the animals, but he can’t validate himself and his existence; he needs the woman who completes him. He discovers that he is a social animal which is dependent in someone who acknowledges him, from which he could create a definition of self and separate while he devotes himself to her, sticks with her and be one flesh as her.
Out of the encounters with my male patients as well as in my personal life, I find that this opinion, which prefers the independence over the dependence, has some kind of commemoration of the traditional gender roles: an independent ruling man, a dependent and submissive woman. The conception that men and women hold, according to which dependence in the woman is a negative situation, is a sterile and illusion attempt to find a solution for a paradox situation, which by definition is not solvable. In a healthy relationship there is a fluent flexible movement between dependence and independence.
The paradox of acknowledgement which was phrased by Jessica Benjamin in her book “The cables of love” (2005), describes a complex human tension in which the condition for our independent existence is the need of recognition by the other. A true independence means the existence of the critical tension between opposite needs, meaning from one side the need of self expression, and on the other side the need of the other’s recognition in that independence. Controlling the other comes from the refusal to accept the perpetual tension between these two forces and constitutes as a forceful solution which subordinated the needs of independence for the undisputed control lf independence. This applies also to the self control.
The first man is under a complex situation, in which on the one hand he receives the power of control on the living world, as well as the control on the woman who was created through him, but on the other hand he is dependent in that woman, by her recognizing his independence, her giving a validation to his existence and provides an answer to his loneliness. This is how the first man’s wish for control and independence id under a perpetual struggle with his need of recognition and validation. The recognition of this duality is in fact a recognition of interactions and dependence relations between the man and the woman. The most important point is that the patriarchal way of thought tries to offer an hierarchical solution to a situation which by definition is paradoxical and is unsolvable. Benjamin has phrased this paradoxical situation by saying “the control is a twist of love” (Benjamin, 2005).
Now the lord god had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them;
Imagine how god takes the first man out on a tour and shows him the entire animal kingdom, and together they search and failing in finding a help to meet him. In fact, we are looking at the description of an important conscious development, which will continue across the entire human history; the man learns to control the creation using the human language, a fact which reflects in his ability to give names to everything that was created: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
The first man began his development by inserting order in his environment by sorting the animals’ world. This is the first scientific reference to nature (Soloveychik, 2001). The language provides man a sort of blessing – curse paradox: on the one hand it provides him the illusion of certainty, the ability to rule and predict, but by speaking we are giving birth the “viewer” in its contents, who witnesses the reality. So, in tact we are separated and diverged from that reality which we ask to devote ourselves to and with it we ask to unite. “by having the potential to speak, we were always separated and diverged from nature” (Crysteva, 2009).
In my daily meetings with my male patients I can practically see the connection between the lack of language and ability between the struggle of giving a verbal and thought validation to the inner world. A lot of man are liked trapped in a mute internal world which expresses itself by acting out and by psycho physical symptoms. The known philosopher of the tongue Ludwig Wittgenstein claimed that the borders of language and the “linguistic game” of men set and define the boundaries of their world (Wittgenstein 1956). It seems that since the book of genesis, the man, the male, like practiced in giving names and a language to his outer space but remained mute and helpless in his ability go give a name and define in words phenomena which are related to his bubbling internal world. A part of the traditional gender tracking process (socialization) distances the men from their ability to give a language for emotional phenomena which occur within them. The other side of a reality which lacks an emotional language is by losing the ability of a lot of men to validate and give a compelling attention to their fellow people.
So, the lord caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the lord god made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man.
This clause describes the process of the woman’s birth into humanity. She was born out of the man’s body, flesh of his flesh, his genetic duplication, in the first surgical act in human history. The “woman” concept is a combination of man (the first man) with the addition of WO letters. The patriarchal creation story suggests a solution to the biological male inferiority – the man, who has no ability to give birth is in fact the one who “gives birth” of the woman. And thus, in a sort of patriarchal skim the man takes the woman’s unique power which comes from her biological ability to give birth. God gives birth to Adam, Adam gives birth to the woman, and the woman gives birth to her sons who commemorate the male’s government.
The man said this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.
This is in fact the end of the ceremony to provide names for the created. In a similar process to the in which the first man gave names to the animals’ kingdom and thus promised his superiority and control in the world of matter, he gives the name to the first woman who was made from him. She’s defined in a name which commemorates the powers relations between the genders, through the man she was created from. Only at the end of the divine trial for the ancient sin, in which the first man receives a legal validation from the divine authority to rule and control his wife, he changes her name from woman to eve – Adam named his wife eve, because she would become the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). The woman was born out of the man without a uterus, but despite that he controls her identity and can change her name. From genesis the man is presented as a kind of mini dictator god of the family system.
Tree of knowledge good and bad
The mental stress of the first man peeks at the story of the tree of knowledge
And the lord commanded the man, you are free to eat from any tree in the garden but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.
For the first time the man comes across a boundary. When he reaches that boundary, he plants the seeds of curiosity and the will to expand and breakthrough it. This is how us human are built, and this is how we create ourselves in the process of separation. The book of Genesis presents the first man a complex psychological situation, in which he’s torn between the will to obey the father-god authority, and the demand or the will to produce a separation from his parents and devote himself to the relationship with his spouse: That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:34)
The first mental conflict that the first man copes with is Eve’s invitation to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. If he decides in the benefit of devoting himself to his wife, he will break the divine command (not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge). Where will he put his loyalty? The first act of rebel by the man is the beginning of human history, because it is the beginning of human freedom (Prom 1975). I’m pretty sure that a lot of parents to teenagers know the separation of young boys and girls from their parents is done by moments and gestures of disobedience. Disobedience is a blessed human quality, which in fact causes the human society to evolve.
According to Solvyechik (2001) the first man was expelled from heaven since he saw himself as an independent and separate entity who doesn’t need others. He attributes himself and his actions unlimited importance; he rebels any claim to surrender to the law, both the natural and the moral; he’s punished for setting his own moral code, for trying to crack the secret of the universe, to claim ownership without permission over god’s abilities and become the creator. His punishment is to be enslaved to the patriarchal need of providing financial security for his family, and instead of loving his wife he’ll control her: To Adam he said, because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, you must not eat from it, cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it.
The man said, the woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.
In those dramatic moments the father – god puts his son on the first trial in human history, due to a sin or betrayal which occurred in the conflictual relationship triangle of god – man – woman. How will the first man defend himself in that trial?
In fact, this is the first dialogue between the man and his god in the bible, a dialogue which may commemorate what the social psychology addresses to as “a center of control/outer attribution”. At the stage of punishment pleas, the first man blames god of creating the woman (the woman you put here with me), and immediately blames the seducing woman who lead him to destroy the relationship with the father – god (she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate). In simple words, the first man is described as someone who blames his environment and struggles to take responsibility over his choices. This is where the narrative of the lead, passive, man is born who is under the control of a strong instinctive woman, who has the ability to build and destroy him. He allegedly rules her in a tragic control alliance, in which the ruler is also ruled, the guard is also a prisoner, and the conqueror is also conquered. The story of the ancient sin created the little fear of men to devote to the feminine energy.
And what about the woman, our mother eve?
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
The biblical story distinguishes the its punishing behavior towards the man and towards the woman. Their sins are different from one another. Unlike the common comprehension of the “seductive and traitorous woman” – who conducted an alliance with the snake (devil) and led the man to sin – we can see in Eve’s proposal to Adam to eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge a proposal which doesn’t come from the need to achieve power and control over nature (if it was her motivation she wouldn’t offer the fruit to Adam). She is attracted to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge due to the experience’s aesthetics; the fruit is “pleasing for the eye”, “and also desirable for gaining wisdom”. After she eats she delights in the sensual instinctive level and chooses a position of sharing: she offers the fruit to her spouse not due to a will to harm him, but over the concern from a deep gap in the development of their mental conscious. She is almost aware of the fact that if she experiences the leap of growth alone, they’ll be doomed of marital loneliness.
To the woman he said, I will make your pain in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.
The punishment towards the woman commemorates the feminine role in the patriarchal society: to be ruled and experience pain and sadness in the process of giving birth and raising children. The woman wants to be united with her man, but her punishment is to accept her subordination to him forever. This is how that ancient sin created a social-political-gander reality which is captured as a divine sentence, as the truth given from above.
The sentence “with painful labor you will give birth to children” raises a few questions: why is the birth and raising the children include such misery? The human society that was established after the ancient sin created a painfully known reality in which the sons are sacrifices at the altar of the ideological conquer ruling wars of their fathers. We can understand it as if the biblical writer is telling eve: from the moment you give birth to your sons, know that attaching to them involves the sadness of saying goodbye to them, since the horrible day of sacrifice at the altar of their fathers’ wars is yet to come.
Regarding the absence of girls from that clause, it seems that in general the biblical text doesn’t recognize them, and one can assume that they were captured as an integral part of their mother. Along the entire book of genesis, we encounter stories about duos or groups of males: Cain and Abel, Yitzhak and Ismael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers. The boys and men are the main heroes in this incredible human Epos. They are the warriors, who fight against the forces of nature and divines, compete, betray, murder, win and lose. In opposite to them the women receive recognition mainly for fulfilling the motherly duties. They are driven by the urge to be the only women to their husbands, are conflicted with the other women, promote their sons’ birthright by cheating, expel other women who jeopardizes their status, and their daughters are mainly mentioned as victims of rape and sacrifice. This makes it easy to understand how the masculine suspicious towards the seductive, using and manipulative power was formed, and the vision of women of themselves as victims.
God’s punishment commemorates the gender roles forever: the man is punished in the outer space; he is condemned to suffer his entire life in attempts to process the dammed not given soil for the existence of the family he establishes. Despite that the woman is punished in the internal-family space; her natural tendency for a sensual, explorative and hedonistic freedom is ran over by the need to surrender to the undisputed govern of the man. The fait of the patriarchal culture is drained into the genesis punishment, which dooms both genders a victimized conception of life, wrapped in chronicle bitterness and mutual blames.
Solvyechik has phrased the genders’ tragedy during the reality after the ancient sin: “this is how the magnificent conflict of Adam and Eve becomes to an ugly experience of burning out the personality. The modern man asks to be seemed as a hero govern and surrender Eve to his ideological, religious, financial, or political regime. The curse of Eve after conducting the sin – “and he will rule you” – was fulfilled in our modern society. The warm personal relationship between two people is pushed aside by a subject-object formal relationship which reflects in an aspiration for power and superiority” (Elor, 1999).
To this point the story which commemorates the roots of culture and patriarchal thinking. In chapter 1 ahead there is a hidden concealed story, which presents entirely different alternatives to the relationship between the species. We can understand it as if the bible tells that before the gender power fights there was a different reality, based on mutual relations between women and men and a collaboration between different but equal powers.
The creation of the world and the man: the equal version
The described reality in chapters 2-3 sketches a familiar status picture in relationships between men and women to these days. Despite that, the described reality in chapter 1 (in only six clauses) is not familiar, and it seems like it needed a new language to be invented.
The book of Genesis is opened with the story of the creation of the world, which ends in the 6th day at the creation of man. Below is the quote from clauses 26 – 27, in which the creation of man, the relationship between the creator and his human creations, as well as the relations between men and the creation itself are described. These clauses declare the birth of humanity by a short, temporary alliance, which is about to shatter in chapter 2 as mentioned above.
Then god said, let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So, god created mankind in his own image, in the image of god he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then god said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food. And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.
Then god said, let us make mankind in our image
In this case the term “mankind” defines a united one whole which diverges into two, male and female (in the image of god he created them; male and female he created them), and they are both created in the image of god. The clause “created him… he created them” conceals a deep universal truth, which also appears in the symbol of the Chinese yin and yang as well as the Kabbalah’s carriage act: the human whole is a kind of a mental androgynous, which is composed out of male and female qualities together. In the inter-personal marital level this is the encounter between the man and the woman, which is called in the book of Zohar in the Kabbalah “the holy match”, meaning in the act of love of the male and the female occurs a unity of the divine forces.
The gender ratio is equal, and both genders receive god’s blessing (God blessed them). Nitza Abarbanel writes in her book “Eve and Lilith”: in order to understand the story of creation and the unity of Adam and Eve in the image of god one has to occupy firstly I the meaning of the divine presence in the Jewish conception. The term Shekinah comes into design in personifications which are female in essence. Meaning the Shekinah is the feminine representation of god’s whole. According to the Kabbalah, the feminine Shekinah in the reality after the ancient sin has transferred to a situation of “the exile of the Shekinah”, meaning is disengagement and the separation of the Shekinah from is perpetual reunion with the superior powers, and the man has the obligation to fill this gap and negotiate with the superior powers. (Abarbanel, 1994)
And god made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
In the midrash and the biblical interpretation, the sun symbols the man while the moon symbols the woman. One of the issues that occupied rabbis across centuries regards the essence of the difference. Why does the man hold the bigger light while the woman possesses the little light? Since many studies were influenced from the patriarchal comprehension, the consensus was in the direction of a hierarchy between man and women. The man is captured as the big light, and the woman as the recipient of the masculine sunlight and in her ability to reflect it like a mirror towards the earth. The woman supports the man’s teeming light.
An example for this conception can be fount at the “Great Midrash”, the book of genesis (from Abarbanel, 1994): “At the hour in which god came to create Eve, he would have looked where to create her from, he said: I shall not create her from the head, so she wont value her head in pride, and not from the eye so she won’t be curious, and not from the ear so she won’t be obedient, and not from the mouth so she won’t be talkative, and not from the throat so she won’t be impudent and not from the heart so she won’t be provocative, and not from the hand so she won’t be seductive, and from the foot so she won’t be a tramp, but from the house of his ribs, a place which is humble in man”.
But one could find at our sages of blessed memory, mainly in Kabbalah personnel, equal comprehensions regarding gender – in the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Baba Batra it was written: “Anything that god created in his world, he created male and female”. In fact, the Jewish Kabbalah returned the emphasis o the spiritual doing in the equal reunion between men and women. According to the Kabbalah the division to a bigger light (the sun, the man) and to a smaller light (the moon, the woman) receives a deep spiritual meaning. Sarah Judith Sneider claims in her book “The rise and fall of the Shekinah” that along with the divergence to two (the light and the darkness) the fact of gender emerged – the partition to male and female. Thus, the Jewish Kabbalah occupies a lot in discovering the masculine and feminine face during the creation and even in god itself (Sneider, 2008). According to the Kabbalah some of the process of messiah’s redemption will occur with the return of the woman to full power, meaning when both genders are equal.
The divine pact is between the god and his creatures, and the entire story is told in plural (them, to you, for them). Rabbi Solvyechik described the atmosphere of the initial situation: “The man as he appears in that latent miraculous Friday, is not a foreigner to the universe nor a stranger to nature; He is not a stranger who intrudes to a world which is not his, the man is the child of mother nature, like the beast and the animal.”
In these phrases appears and harmonic description of a relationship based on mutual dependence between the man and the created and unlike the story of the ancient sin, these verses don’t describe relations which are based on struggles over power and control. Solvyechik continues to describe: “In the day of his creation the first man was an integral part of nature. The bible trusted its hands on the principle of the unity of organic life and their sequentially […] The plan of the divine creation embraces the man and the beast together. Both of them belong to nature, both came from the ashes” (Solvyechik, 2001).
The first pact between god and its creatures describes an equal relationship reality between women and men. One might even claim it reflects an equal love triangle between god and its creatures, since it was said he had made them in his image male and female – they are him. As Plato said: “The man is a god, but he had forgotten it” (Schwartz, 1999). The man and the woman are equal, and they were created in the image and the pattern of god, so it doesn’t describe a hierarchical but an equilateral triangle based on resemblance between its vertexes. A reinforcement for that conception could be found in Genesis 3:22: And the lord god said, behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Namely Adam and Eve were casted from heaven not for their eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, but due to the father-god’s fear that his children will be equal to him in their strength.
The initial state of man is lit and divine (anyone who raised a baby might agree with me on that). In fact, the god creates a pair of equals, who are different. They were both sculptured according to the divine template, and the relationship of the male and the female with the world of their creation are ones of devotion. They are commanded to make love and reproduction (Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth) and the earth gives them back its love through an abundance of food: Then god said, I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food (Genesis 1:29). In these verses there is an emphasis that says that the man is an animal which is found at the top of the animal kingdom (Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature), but he is described as an animal which is fed from eating grass and fruits. During the firs pact the humanity is vegetarian which lives in harmony and compassion with all the creatures.
In her article “the ideal of equality in genesis 1” Lea Mazor wrote: “God created a tree which produces fruit of his species, the ground produced all kinds of grass and the produced kinds of fruits. The land produced the living soul, beast and insects. God had made the animal of the land and the beast and the insect of the land by their kinds but not the man, because there are no kinds of men. In the description of the creation of man in genesis 1 there aren’t any distinguishes between people: a king and a citizen, a freeman and a slave or an Israeli man to a foreigner. (Mazor, 2015). Mazor highlights in her paper that the uniqueness of the relationship between god and man is embedded in the fact that the humans are the only creation that god not only blesses but also speaks directly to: “and the lord god blessed them and told them god”.
The conscious state of the man in chapter one to the conscious state of him in chapters two and three is a shaking experience of hard abandonment. This is the expel of a reality of a cruel existence which is not comforting nor consoling, to impossible relationships in which the male invests all of his power and energy in an attempt to provide financial security for his family, and the woman tears herself while giving birth and is condemned to be ruled by the man for her entire life. What was left for the people is a sort of yearning for an elusive memory for an initial primeval place in which the male and female were found in the past, blessed and beloved, different and equal versus a divine authority which is happy with its creation.
I often find while working with men the wish to devote themselves to loving their spouse, but our social habitat has taught us – men – to control the reality, to practice from our childhood competition games and struggles of power. In the Israeli society which is found under a state of the absence of peace and continuous war, an integral part in the gender education for boys is training them and making them suitable to serve as combat soldiers and preparing them for war. During our growth, us, boys, go through a long and a continuous process of developing our independence and neglecting and depressing the needs of dependence. This is how we learn to stop sharing close people to us with what we experience emotionally, and thus the wish to devote to love meets us unequipped in the language of feelings, alienated to the need of dependence and relations and ashamed to talk our vulnerability with close people. We reach love armed with stiff protections and emotional disruptions. We are asked to make peace with duality (dependence/independence). A man who asks to decide his loyalty to one side of the poles is expected to suffer from each pole. A man who is liberated from the patriarchal cables accepts the paradox of recognition and the complexity of the relationships between independence and dependence. How can we devote ourselves in endless loyalty to the love of our children, the friends from reserve service, and the soccer team, “which could lose but will never betray”.
The Jewish – Christian comprehension in ration to the ancient sin has designed humanity and the conception of the man’s soul in a very deep way as “evil from youth” and as a sinner (Montegue, 1978). A renewed reading in both stories of the man’s creation provides us the recognition of a complex and a multi dimensional reality, which is not satisfied in the bi-dimensional of the ancient sin conception – which leads to a fear, control and obedience based relationships between two scared objectives – but creates a possibility for a reality of a relationship based on trusting one another, meeting vulnerable subjective, recognition of the man and the rest of the creatures relations in an embracing compassion, which is not satisfied with the bidimensional conception of the ancient sin, but offers a versatile flexible movement between poles of paradoxical and dual situations.
Eric Prom writes in his book disobedience (2015): for centuries kings, priests, masters, feudal lords, industrialists and parents insisted that obedience is a good measure and that disobedience is a sin. In order to present a different perspective, we need to face this stand across the next statement: the human history began with an act of disobedience, and it is not unlikely it will be destructed by an act of obedience.
In this paper I tried to make the movement between obedience and disobedience more flexible, between fear and control to giving trust, between guilt and responsibility and dependence to independence. As a therapist and a family man I find an extreme importance in understanding paradoxes and dual situations which occur in the relationship. The recognition in the existence of a paradox liberates us from the need to solve the situation. Paradoxes by definition are unsolvable situations. They don’t seek for solutions but a flexible movement between the poles.
I find that both presented relationship options in chapter 1 and chapters 2 and 3 reflect two mental situations which exists in humans. The first situation is a conscious situation that can be called “trust-devotion”, and the second situation is a state of “anxiety-control”. The first state reflects relationships which are based on collaboration, a shared vulnerability and equal terms, while the second state reflects a relationship which is based on loneliness, struggles of power and control. Although they may look opposite and conflicted, in the relations between men and women and the relations of the man with himself, they exist side by side and enable movement between them. Spitefully the recognition in both states could produce flexibility in the transfers between them and a wider range of options for men and women relations.
Rabbi Solvyechik writes in his paper “the loneliness of the believer” (1965): “The first man has the glory, control and success, and the second man, the lonely man of faith, the surrender and obedient, are not two different people who stand one against the other, as I versus you, but in each and every one of us are found two people. Their way of thinking is separate and so is their methods, however, as big as that gap is, each of us must identify with overall personality.
In this paper I tried to direct the attention to a human possibility which was yet to be tried: making peace between the genders, which hides between the verses of the book of Genesis as an unfulfilled potential for the man’s redemption by an integrative reunion of the inner and actual male and female in our lives. This reunion liberates us from the cables of the patriarchal culture. I don’t intend to dismiss the existence of the man who was born from the ancient sin, the lonely and alienated man who lives in a perpetual and agonizing struggle with his internal and outer life, but only to remind him, as in a loving whisper, that there is another possibility out there, that there is a different identity, that knows how to collaborate, that knows how to live together with the woman, the nature and god, an identity which asks to remember and be recognized.
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