בַּסִּפְרִיָּה In the Library 10/27

It’s always a challenge to mesh a popular secular holiday with Judaism; some are more obvious than others…but HALLOWEEN? Easier than you think. Judaism is bursting with tales of demons, witches, golems (giant creatures fashioned of clay), dybbuks (spirits that inhabit the living), sea monsters, and all manner of entities limited only by our ancestors’ limitless imaginations. 

Many of these stories are straight out of the Tanach, especially the 1st parasha in B’raishit (Genesis). I had the 3rd/4th graders reading directly out of the chumash (Torah in book form) and they were surprised to discover that on the 4th day, God created not only the fish of the sea, but also sea monsters such as the leviathan (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/leviathan). 

Then at the end of the parsha, there is a surprising blurb about “B’NAI ELOHIM” or “Children of God” (angels? aliens? divine beings?) who mated with human women and produce the “Nephilim — the heroes of old, men of renown”! (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/nephilim) What are these Nephilim? — giants? Golems? Frankenstein-type monsters? Of course the talmudic Rabbis spun the most fanciful extrapolations, but the kids were reminded at once of Greek mythology, specifically of the story of Hercules. What is different here is that the torah sought to tame these obviously popular stories into something theologically acceptable, i.e. that God created it all and these beings have no intrinsic power beyond what God has allotted.

We combined the Kindergarten with the 1st/2nd graders this week, but such a big group behaved beautifully as I read a fun story about creation called 

IN OUR IMAGE: GOD’S FIRST CREATURES by Nancy Sohn Swartz. On day 6 of creation, when it is time to create humans, God seems to be addressing a group, saying “Let us make humans in OUR image”. To whom was God speaking? The animals, of course, who joyfully suggest their own attributes to share with these new human creatures. The kids discovered that humans are but one more animal on earth and we all have much to give to the other.

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91VNmP64VML._AC_UY327_FMwebp_QL65_.jpg

Shavua tov and happy Halloween!

Leave a Reply