Learning from Eden: "Do not gobble the Earth!"

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In the Eden story there is a crucial teaching for our (and every) generation: "The earth is amazingly abundant. Do not try to gobble it all."

In the Garden, there were two levels to the disobedience of eating from the "forbidden " tree. As my own children taught me many years ago, eating was not a "sin,&quot. It was a necessary act of growing up, disobeying Momma; discovering what "good" really is by doing what is "bad"; making your own decisions; not being a baby any more. Indeed, God practically invited this rebellious maturation by defining the first code of kosher eating -- distinguishing between this food you can eat and this food you cannot eat.

The second level, however, was that this teaching bore a wise and crucial lesson: You can eat from Earth's abundance, but you cannot gobble everything. "From every tree except this one." For if you do gobble all the abundance that there is, it will vanish into poverty and lack, as it does at the end of the Garden story. (And as it may at the end of our own story, if we heedlessly keep burning coal and oil.)

Still, there is a difference between learning from Poppa/Momma's wise edict and learning from our own experience. The "children" responded -- as perhaps God wanted? -- by distinguishing their own identities from God's -- disobeying -- and thus beginning to grow up. But the first steps in growing up were the steps of gobble-gobble. And they brought on a bad experience.

Are we stuck there? No. We need to grow up SOME MORE. Today we are learning how gobbling up all earth leads to disaster.

And there is wisdom from our own past to point toward a different way of growing up.

As the Kabbalists looked at the story of the garden, they taught that there was only one Tree in the center of the garden (read the text carefully). That the Tree of Life IS the Tree of knowing good & evil. We just need to have the expanded consciousness in which distinctions and flow are not opposites but intertwined. Then comes Mashiach.

How? Look at ecology, the Messianic science. Why? Because it understands BOTH THE FLOW AND THE NICHES. Without the niches, the distinctions between this species and that, there would be no web of life, no flow, no I-Thou'ing between this species and that. From the standpoint of ecology, the Tree of Life & the Tree of Knowing Good & Evil ARE THE SAME.

Can we learn this, and bring Mashiach?

We can -- by realizing that what went wrong in much of our distinction-making is that the distinctions become warfare: the earth will feed you only thorns and thistles, you will sweat to eat (notice that "eating" is what connects humans to the humus, adam to adamah), it will be hard work to give birth, women will face male domination.

Our goal is to affirm AND CELEBRATE distinctions. GOOD that women and men are so alike and yet different; that Jews and Palestinians are so alike, and yet different; that human and humus are intertwined, yet distinct. By restraining ourselves, not making war against each other and the earth, we learn to eat without gobbling, love without dominating,

Where do we find a Torah, a teaching, of this path? In the Song of Songs which is Eden for grown-ups. No Papa-Momma giving orders; God is not named in the Song because the WHOLE SONG IS God's Name. In the Song of Songs, God is everywhere: in the unashamed sexuality of the man and woman, in the playful relationship between human and humus. In the knowledge that we can eat joyfully without gobbling all the earth.

Time for the human race to grow up: learn that we can understand distinctions while loving both poles of every dichotomy.

Time to learn an ecologic ethic from the Song of Songs, a sexual ethic from the Song of Songs, a theology from the Song of Songs.


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