Friday, October 16, 2009

The Mistakes of Hatred

Looking through my files, I came across a teaching by “Diane” – I have no idea who actually wrote this, so my apologies to her. Anyway, she is commenting on a very disturbing midrash (Genesis Rabbah 17:6) which notices that the first occurrence of the letter samech (makes an “s” sound) in the Torah is during the creation of Eve. So, this ancient text teaches, we can learn from this that Satan, which starts with the same sound*, didn’t enter the world until woman was created. Nice, huh?**

* yes, Satan appears in Rabbinic literature, although he is nothing like the Satan that we see in Christianity and popular culture.

** My teacher, Rabbi Leonard Kravitz***, would now say, “Not a good teaching to use on Sisterhood Shabbat.”

*** Yes, Lenny Kravitz was one of my Rabbinical School teachers. The man can rock out, AND teach Midrash. Very prolific.

One problem. Satan is spelled with the letter sin, not samech. Same sound, different letter. There is no connection, none whatsoever, linguistically speaking, between satan and woman. So, the larger connection which the ancient writer is trying to draw is equally invalid.

The lesson that Diane, our modern writer, draws is this:

The idea that femininity is evil is based on a mistake…thinking the introduction of femininity…is the source of evil in the world is exactly as stupid and misguided as thinking Satan begins with a samech

I’ll be we can take it a step further. The idea that any group is, simply by their being created, responsible for bringing evil into the world is dumb. It’s actually narrow-minded bigotry like that which brings evil to the world!

Luckily, this guy isn’t racist. Not at all.

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