By Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg
An intellectually stimulating and in my view uplifting exploration of Genesis. Genesis: the start of hope breathes new existence into the tales of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Rachel, and Joseph. Zornberg brings biblical, midrashic, and literary assets jointly, weaving them right into a seamless tapestry and illuminating the tensions that grip people as they look for and stumble upon God.
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Additional info for Genesis: The Beginning of Desire
The audacity of the image is reinforced by another comment of Rashi: “ ‘And God created man in His image’: Everything else was created by an act ofspeech; only man was created with the hands o f God, as it is said, ‘You placed Your hands upon me” ’ (Psalms 139:5) (1:27). There is an imagining here that cannot be glibly dismissed under the rubric of anthropomorphism. What does it mean, to be created by the hands of God, rather than by His word —(“ ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water’ ”)?
Kafka expresses a similar torment of irresolubility: He is a free and secure citizen of the world, for he is fettered to a chain which is long enough to give him the freedom of all earthly space, and only so long that nothing can drag him past the frontiers of the world. But simultaneously he is a free and secure citizen of Heaven as well, for he is also fettered by a similarly designed heavenly chain. So that if he heads, say, for the earth, his heavenly collar throttles him, and if he heads for Heaven, his earthly one does the same.
Says the Lord. Just like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in My hands, O House of Israel! At one moment I may decree that a nation or a kingdom shall be uprooted and pulled down and destroyed; but if that nation against which I made the decree turns back from its wickedness, I change My mind [venihamti] The Pivoting Point 19 concerning the punishment I planned to bring on it. At another moment I may decree that a nation or a kingdom shall be built and planted; but if it does what is displeasing to Me and does not obey Me, then I change My mind [venihamti] concerning the good I planned to bestow upon it.