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In The Beginning PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tzvi Fishman   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Question:
I think you place too much emphasis on sexuality. What does it have to do with Israel or the Jewish People?

Answer:
Sexuality has everything to do with Israel and the Jewish People. Mankind’s first transgression, which brought about man’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, resulted from Adam and Eve’s misusing the holy sexual energy that G-d had placed in the world.

Subsequent generations continued in their footsteps until the time of Noach, when the whole world became polluted with sexual sin. Only when Abraham appeared on the scene of world history, and entered into the Covenant of the Brit with G-d, was the world offered hope of rectification. It became Abraham’s task, and the mission of the Jewish People after him, to restore the Kingdom of G-d to the world which had been shattered by the sin of Adam and Eve. It was through the holy example of the Jewish People, that mankind was to learn the holiness of the marital union, upon which all of life is based. But in order to fulfill our destiny as the holy Nation of Israel, and lead the world back to the “Garden,” where the word of the Almighty rules over every aspect of life, we ourselves must first sanctify the holiness of our sexual lives. With this understanding, it can be seen that Jewish sexuality is not some unimportant side issue, but rather the very foundation of Israel’s world mission.

Let’s go back to the beginning. The Zohar teaches that the word “Bereshit” בראשית can be read as ברא שית meaning that in the beginning G-d  בראcreated שית meaning six, representing the sixth “sefirah” or spiritual channel of blessing, known as the “Yesod” which is associated with sexual energy. This channel of blessing, the “Yesod,” brings the Divine force of life into the world, and allows for the world’s continuation through procreation. Thus, the word “Yesod” means “foundation” because it is the foundation of the world (Zohar, Bereshit 56A).

 The word “Bereshit” can also be read as ברית אש with a rearrangement of the Hebrew letters, meaning that in the beginning G-d created a “Brit” or “Covenant of Fire.” This is the Covenant that was later awarded to Avraham, to safeguard the holiness of the sexual union represented by the seal of the Brit Milah on the sexual organ, as the Torah states: “This is My Brit that you shall safeguard, between Me and you, and your seed after you, every male among you shall be circumcised” (Bereshit, 17:8-10). The meaning of safeguarding the Brit, as the Zohar explains, is not merely the obligation to circumcise our children, but to guard our sexual holiness as well, which distinguishes us from the nations. This holy Covenant is the foundation of the world, as the verse states: “If not for upholding My Brit day and night, I would not uphold the ordinances of the heaven and earth” (Yirmeyahu, 33:25).

It is known the metaphorical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden is more than partaking of the forbidden fruit. The Talmud teaches that eating is a metaphor for the sexual union (Ketubot 65B). Adam and Eve strayed after their eyes and one thing led to another. Instead of engaging in the marital union in a holy manner, they succumbed to lust, and brought destruction upon the world, as the Zohar teaches:

“Rabbi Abba said: On the day that Adam transgressed the command of his Master, heaven and earth wanted to be uprooted from their place. What is the reason? Because heaven and earth only remain in their places because of the Covenant of the Brit, as it is written, ‘If not for upholding My Brit day and night, I would not uphold the ordinances of the heaven and earth.’ And Adam broke the Covenant of the Brit, as is written, ‘But they like Adam have transgressed the Brit.’”

This last verse is found in the Book of Hoshea which describes how the Nation of Israel fell into sexual transgression (Hosea, 6:7). The sexual wrongdoing in Hoshea’s time is compared to Adam’s sin.

The Zohar continues by revealing that it became the task of the Jewish People to rectify Adam’s sin: “And if it had not been revealed before G-d, that in the future, Israel would stand at Mount Sinai to uphold this Brit, the world would not have been preserved” (Zohar, Bereshit, 56A).

As we mentioned, after Adam’s sin, things got progressively worse. “And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the distinguished ones saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took themselves women of all whom they chose” (Bereshit, 6:1). Rashi brings two opinions of the Sages whether the “distinguished ones” (bnei elokim) were the judges of the time or actual angels, and notes that sexual transgression abounded, in all kinds of manner, even in the animal world (See Rashi there).

At the end of the Torah portion “Bereshit,” G-d sees the widespread transgression of mankind and repents for having created them: “And the L-rd saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and all the impulse of the thoughts of man’s heart was only continually evil” (Bereshit, 6:5). The Zohar explains that the meaning of evil (“ra”) in this verse has the same meaning of the word “ra” which appears in a verse about the sons of Yehuda, who were stricken to death by G-d for spilling semen in vain: “And Er, Yehuda’s firstborn was evil (ra) in the sight of the L-rd” (Bereshit, 38:7).

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai explains that there is nothing in the world that so arouses the zealousness of G-d as sexual transgressing, teaching that the Generation of the Flood was not considered completely guilty until mankind sexually corrupted its ways upon by earth by spilling their semen in vain. Thus, measure for measure, just as they destroyed their seed, they were destroyed, and just as they sinned through the illicit pleasures of misusing their fluid, they were destroyed by the scalding hot waters of the flood (Zohar, Bereshit 56A; 61B).

The sexual sins in the time of Noach drove the holy Shechinah (the Divine Presence) from the world and removes its holy habitation from the earth; thus they were removed from the world in turn (Zohar, Bereshit 57A).

This lesson is especially important to mankind today as we are in the Sixth Millenium of Creation, which represents the sefirah of “Yesod.” The task of rectifying the sexual sins of the first generations of man has fallen on us. This is why there are so many sexual temptations today, wherever you look, on the street and at home, because the same evil forces personified by the snake in the Garden of Eden are working overtime to prevent the Jewish People from reaching their goal of restoring G-d’s Kingship to the world by sanctifying the holiness of our lives as set forth in the Covenant of Avraham.

To summarize, the subject of Jewish sexuality is a foundation of the Jewish Nation, and the key to bringing G-d’s Presence back into the world, with the ingathering of all of the sparks of holiness, via the ingathering of the scattered of Israel, and the re-establishment of the holy Nation of Israel in its Holy Land – may it be soon. Amen.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 October 2012 )
 
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