ז וַיִּיצֶר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָדָם עָפָר מִן־הָאֲדָמָה וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה:
Transliteration: Va-yitser **** elohim et-ha-adam afar min-ha-adamah va-yipach b-apayv nishmat chaim va-y’hi ha-adam l-nefesh chayah.
Translation: **** Gd produced the man, dust from the earth, and breathed into his nose the soul of life and the man became a living soul.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
The first verb in the vocabulary is a Biblical version of the piel binyan. In modern Hebrew the vowels are different.
I have said a couple of times that the piel is the frequentative binyan, which gives this verb the connotation of factory production in modern Hebrew. So did Gd line up multiple clay forms and breathe life into all of them? (And what does this do to the Sistine Chapel image of Gd as simply touching Adam to bring him to life?)
No, the rabbis comment that the double yod is an indicator of the dual impulse in people, an impulse to do things that can be wrong, and an impulse to do right. I’m not weasel-wording. It can be wrong to kill, except in the case of self-defense. It cannot be wrong to kill to protect yourself. Also Judaism requires execution of some people after due process in court and a verdict of guilty
It can be wrong to have sex, if it’s adultery or other kinds of sex prohibited in Torah; but people cannot obey the very first commandment, “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and dominate it,” if they don’t have sex.
The closest that Judaism gets to the idea of mass-production relative to this verse is in Mishnah. It points out that when a human creates a single stamp and uses it to press out coins, the coins all look the same. But Gd created only one person to start with, and look at all the differences in all the humans that exist in the world. What’s more, destroying one person destroys also all the generations that would have come from him or her. So in capital cases, the witnesses are strictly warned to avoid, if at all possible, destroying even one person. IOW it’s better to let 99 guilty go free than destroy one innocent, which I discuss on the Fact-Checking page.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved