Genesis: Creation, Destruction, and Re-Birth (Dec 15, 2016)

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Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA
December 15, 2016.  See end of post for logistics.

This study is led by Penina Weinberg.

Inherent in the watery story of creation is the deluge – the flood which God will bring to wipe out God’s act of creation. In the first six chapters of the Hebrew Bible, humanity is birthed, drowned and rescued. From “God’s spirit glided over the face of the waters, and God said ‘Let there be light.’” (Gen 1:2-3) to “YHVH regretted having made human beings on earth and was heartsick. So YHVH thought: ‘I will wipe the humans whom I have created from off the face of the earth.’” (Gen 6:6-7) And then – there is Noach: “A righteous man in his generation,” (Gen 6:9) who carries the small family and ark full of animals to dry land and a new future.

We will study Genesis 1-6, six chapters in which the entire Torah is written. We will seek guidance from Aviva Zornberg and the Sefat Emet to understand why God creates this doomed creature. As Zornberg discusses (citing Rashi), creating humans means that wicked beings will emerge, but if humans are not created, how will the righteous (tsaddikim) arise? Along the way, we will consider the gender identity of the human (s) created in the image of the divine.

This class will not discuss current events, but the universal questions which arise in the study will resonate and perhaps be useful. My approach to Torah is not, how can we make this verse or that speak to a current event? Rather, we collectively unpack and seek to understand and own the texts; we bring the text to our selves, and our selves to the texts. Thereby each of us can increase our knowledge of human and divine nature, and with deeper understanding, strengthen our selves for our various forms of life work.

  • Ruach HaYam study sessions provide a queer Jewish look at text, but are open to any learning or faith background and friendly to beginners.
  • Study starts promptly at 7:15 pm. However we open the doors at 6:45 for schmoozing. Feel free to bring your own veggie snack for the early part.
  • A parking consideration is in effect for the three blocks around EC during all regularly scheduled events.  It’s a good idea to put a note in the windshield that you are attending an event at EC.
  • Accessibility information: all gender/accessible bathrooms, entry ramp.

Penina Weinberg is an independent Hebrew bible scholar whose study and teaching focus on the intersection of power, politics and gender in the Hebrew Bible. She has run workshops for Nehirim and Keshet and has been teaching Hebrew bible for 10 years. She has written in Tikkun, founded the group Ruach HaYam and is president emerita and chair of various committees in her synagogue. Penina is a mother and grandmother.