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WORLD, ADAM AND ADAMAH

by Dr. Yitzhak I. Hayutman,
Cybernetician and Urban Planner,
Dean of Research & Development,
The Academy of Jerusalem.

This paper appeared originally in Hebrew in Mudaut (Consciouseness) Number 29, June 1988.


Contents:
Introduction
1. TIME
2. OLAM HAZE
3. OLAM HABA
4. ADAM
5. ADAM AND ISRAEL
6. ADAM AND ADAMAH
NOTES

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5. ADAM AND ISRAEL:

This essay presented a universal outlook derived from the tradition of Israel. But if one studies the concept of man in Jewish tradition may be disappointed to see much Jewish chauvinism mixed with the universal message. Alongside the universal description of Adam sometimes appears the qualifying and seemingly haughty statement: "Adam is Israel", "Israel were called Adam" etc. Add this to the whole dillema of "the Chosen People" which embroils the interrelations of Jews to the other nations of the world, and the seeker of universalism and a "New Age" may perhaps prefer to dissociate himself from any Jewish issue and from Jewish teachings about the redemption of humankind. I feel thus compelled to add a few words in an attempt to resolve this objection.

The very fact of upholding the Biblical story which is very important for the destiny of humankind these days, a story which claims that there exists a divine plam to create an enlightened and unified Adam-humankind, gives significance to that human collectivity - first a family, then an assembly of trivbes and then a nation - which is responsible for the preservation of this story and of monotheism and to their world-wide propagation.

The Bible makes no idealization of the Peole of Israel - the Patriarches went through trials, the tribes sinned with the Golden Calf immediately after their greatest moment at Mount Sinai, and the people of the kingdoms of Judah and of Israel were chastised by the prophets for their many shortcomings. Also today, the people called Israel are not the paragons of virtue, and perhaps on the contrary, the very "Messianic complex" which we all carry within us makes us have guilt feelings that we are not so good. Our enourmous self-criticism, which is probably unparalleled among the nations of the world, and the blames the nations level at us when they catch us in our failures are in fact a testimony that even today there are expectations, both by ourselves and by the others, to become a model to the world and a light onto the nations, and disappointment when it is not so. Who would at all blame president Assad or Saddam Hussein for not presenting a positive model to the whole world? Against our will, in our very collective identity is entailed a committment for all humankind.

The burden is oppressing and hard to carry, just as it is difficult to carry "the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven", and many have have dropped out of it - for if not there would have been as many Jews as there are Chinese. Precisely many of those who dropped out but still carried in them the unique Jewish tradition have greatly influenced humankind. In this century there was a huge influence to the ideas of Marx (who was accused of having "A Talmudic mind"), Freud and Einstein (and I find that the extent of positivity of their influence was in direct relation to their own regard of Judaism). In the time of Herzel there were many (initially Herzel too) who thought that the greatest contribution of Jews to humankind would be through their assimilation. But the hitch is that this contribution is generally that of the first generation to assimilate whereas the second generation loses its distintiveness and is hardly able to contribute to humankind.

The response of Herzel and of Modern Zionism was understood by many Israelis, including intellectuals, as an attempt to become like the other nations, and people made "a case for normalcy". But this is sheer folly. More and more we discover that the situation{7 or providence placed us thus that we cannot survive unless we exemplify through ourselves the building of the new Adam.

The first trial of the State of Israel was not in peace with the Arab nations but in the ingathering of the exiled and their absorption. This stage is largely accomplished, and we can look back and recognize innumerable mistakes that were made in the process. But beyond all the many shortcomings, this is a marvelous process which posits the most interesting model for the formation of the new Adam from the many nations and cultures upon the face of the Adamah.

The problems in the absorption of the exiles are so many, that perhaps only now one can begin to see the potential model it is for all humankind: if we shall indeed become a model society and have a contribution to make to humankind. There are amongst us many peopple who, precisely because they may want to preserve their unique cultural legacy and not lose it in "the melting pot" will be able to go to "the seventy nations"{8} to speak their languages and walk in their ways. It is quite possible (as was taight by the MaHaRaL and others) that the exile, the ingathering and the redemption are different facets of the same process in which all the nations of the earth will be blessed, as was promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:3 & 22:18).

One clear achievement that Zionism has already accomplished is the revival of the use of the Hebrew language. This may seem as a chauvinistic achievement, of the type that limits the possibility of the unification of humankind. But in fact inherent in this is the possibility to amplify our contribution to humankind, not least because knowledge of Hebrew gives us world seniority in understanding the meanings of the Biblical scriptures.

In the U.S. "Bible Belt", for example, there are many millions of people who swear in the Bible and the veracity of every word in it, but the snag is that they have never seen anything but a translation which contains a miniscule portion of the immense riches of meaning of the scriptures. The ecological awareness that this essay strives for (see next section) and the Biblical understanding neccessary for it, which the essay aims at, are not available to them. Unless I was writing Hebrew, I would not have hit upon these meanings either. This example is only one of literally millions of contributions that we can make to the world if we get to understand well our heritage, the teachings of the scriptures, the Talmud and the Kabbalah, and to interpret them for the needs of our time - the time of passage from Olam Haze to Olam Haba.

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6. ADAM AND ADAMAH:

The main object here is what meaning do the Hebrew calendar and the Biblical story about Adam have in view of the problems challenging, or about to challenge, humankind as it becomes gathered and joined together. The account in tractate Sanhedrin perhaps does not interest the many who no nothing about the Talmud. I shall move to discuss another parallel account of history, which apparently lies at the base of the six thousand years account in tractate Sanhedrin, but wich is bsed on the Story of Genesis (that any one who reads it in the original and not in translation can find that, like most of the Hebrew Bible, the story of Genesis is not written in past tense but in (prophetic) "inverted future" which indicates a recurring and ongoing process) and on Psalm 90 (the psalms are well known by Christians and even recognized by Moslems). In that psalm Moses, the man of God, describes the creation and the passage from Olam Haze to Olam Haba: "From Olam (world) to Olam Thou art God{9}, Thou .

Based on this sentence the interpreters concluded that, at least in matters of the creation of Olam or the passage from Olam to Olam, a "day of the Lord" is like a thousand of our years. This identification is found in many places in the Kabbalah and also in Christian sources (Peter __:__, Augustine). The next step that the Kabbalists take is that each of the six days described in the Book of Genesis refers to a thousand years period. From this we again arrive at an account of a world/Olam for six thousand years, but here it is a more detailed process. Counting as the regular Hebrew calendar we are now in the sixth millenium which is indeed the "day" of the formation of Adam.

If we want to scrutinize the dates then with a pedantic assumption of a day as exactly one thousand years this period started in 1240 C.E. became manifest in 1740{10} and will last till 2240. With some effort, one can find meanings in these dates (the year of the appearance of the Book of the Zohar, the beginning of the end of the exclusive reign of the Catholic church, the beginning of the articulation of the world by European colonialism etc.), but perhaps there is no need to be so meticulous. It is quite clear that we are now in a new era which is totally different from former historic times.

The greatest change in human history is in the number of humans, in the expansion of humankind to billions, most of them now residing in urban areas whose population reaches millions. The command in Genesis "Multiply and fill the earth and tread her (kivshuha{11})" is realized in the present time when all human places of residence are getting connected by roads (kvishim). Unlike the other animals (apart from the social insects as ants and termites) - the human being does not live in a natural environment but in a man-made environment which is more cultural- symbolic than physical.

But the greatest changes yet are the technological changes. Quantitatively, the industrial processes entail the production of immense amount of refuse that not all of which can be recycled. Qualitatively there is a huge advance in means of communications and computation which is building a kind of glovbal nervous system that entail all people and makes them into one civilization, and perhaps, as noted above, even to one super-organism. These changes bring upon both humankind and the Adamah immense perils and opportunities, and it is precisely at this stage that the Biblical story about Adam, the Garden of Eden and the Trees therein, and the expulsion of Adam and the cursing of the Adamah becomes again most significant.

We find in the Talmud two versions of the course of that sixth day of the formation of Adam, detailed by the hour. The important point is that according to these two versions, the case of the Tree of Knowledge and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden on the same sixth day. (The Kabbalah also adds that the Adam's missing the mark was by approaching the Tree prematurely. If they only waited till the Sabbath, they would not have been punished, they failed by rushing unprepared). It is also important to note, even if the Hebrew reader is not aware of it, that the story of the formation of Adam in Genesis is not told in past tense! It is written in an "inverted future" tense which can be read as past tense, but not neccessarily. Whether at the time that a book of the Torah was found at the time of King Yoshiyah or nowadays, it is possible to read the text also in future tense. This is a prophetic story about a historical pattern which is getting realized over the years, and the most dramatic passage is still ahead of us in the very near future. The story of Adam may end as a tragic story, or it may have a happy end, and the time of trial is near.

We can translate the Biblical story about the cursing of Adam and the cursing of the Adamah because of Adam and find it in the so-called "ecological disaster" caused by human actions. It is the acts of all humankind which lead to the disaster, and to stop the human errors which harm the Adamah, joint decision of all humankind are required. It is not enough that one civilized nation will decide for moral reasons to abstain from whale hunting, when other nations will only jump in on the spoils. Also the production of toxic and harmful materials, like the materials that are suspected to destroy the Ozon layer which tempers the ultraviolet radiation which hits the earth, is a humankind-wide action. Every year we learn about new dangers caused by unbalanced and unaware human actions which may endanger the environment.

The solution to these dangers exists, I believe, in the symbols of "The Tree of Knowledge og Good and Evil" and "The Tree of Life". It is clear that the growth of the ecological awareness required gaining additional knowledge, but perhaps this is not the accepted and arbitrary notions of good and bad but another knowledge, a more ecological knowledge which is probably derived from the counsel of the the Tree of Life. The elucudation of the type of awareness which is needed for our times is very pressing and it is probably wrong to enter further technological and industrial developments (such as nuclear reactors) before Adam reaches more consciouseness.

According to this approach, the main environmental-ecological challenge is in the development of the Adam to the Adamah. It was already hinted that the consciouseness of Olam Haba is the sale "I-Thou consciousness" discussed by Buber. Another subject that is being studied is that the Adamah is indeed a living creature which the forming humankind-Adam should regard in "I-Thou" relationship.

In summary, the Biblical story of Genesis prepares us to the need of such a dialogue. The semantic connection of "Adam" and of "Adamah" is specific to the Hebrew version of the scriptures and points at the possibility that the Adam would spoil the Adamah and their destiny would become cursed.

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NOTES:

1. To the reader who is interested in a summary of Rosenzweig's philosophy and his long book, I would advise to read Shmuel Hugo Bergman's excellent book "Dialogical Philosophy from Kirkgaard to Buber". (The book is in Hebrew though).

2. More specifically, this world - Olam haze - was formed at Genesis by these seven Sephirot (Zohar Gen.) and they relate to the two levels of Olam Haze which are called "The World of Action" (Olam ha'Asiya) and "the World of Formation" (Olam haYetsira).

3. Though in the Kabbalistic interpretation of Genesis, especially in the Kabbalah of the holy ARI, the anthropomorphic pattern of Adam appears as primal pattern before the creation.

4. A neologism which is a legal Hebrew derivation of the abstract noun of the word "Yahad" (βαΙ), meaning "together", and thus "togetherness". This word has clear phonetic association both with "Yahid" (βαβΙ) - an individual (though this title is really justified for the Lord "Yehido shel Olam") - and with Yahadut - Judasim. The etymology of the world is also connected with joy.

5. By now there are dozens of books, computer programs and even buttons and posters of fractals, especiallyt of aspects of the Mandelbrot set. There are even special shops for fractal paraphernelia (e.g. "Strange Attractions" in west London).

6. It is interesting to note here the connection to the ten Sephirot of te Kabbalah. It is also noteworthy that some mathematical theories for the great unifying theory for all physical forces and phenomena find need to use ten-dimensional descriptions.

7. In Hebrew "Makom", which is literally "place", but is also one of the Names of the Lord "who is the place of the Olam and the Olam is not His place".

8. A traditional Jewish idiom which means all the nations of the world (that is why when the Children of Jacob/Israel went down to Egypt they numbered 70 (Ex. 1:5), to be the representatives to all humankind. Likewise the Sanhedrin had 70 plus one members. In fact there immigrated to Israel Jews from over 140 countries.

9. The original Biblical divine name there is "El" which means "might" and, literally, "direction towards". This is the appelation that indicates the divine intentionality and directionality that existence is predicated upon, directionality from Olam Haze to Olam Haba.

10. The Jewish account, in following Genesis "and there was evening and there was morning - one day" counts the day as beginning in the evening and thus in an incubation period with the action at the second half, since sunrise.

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