The Seventh Telling: The Qabalah of Moshe Katan – A Novel
Mitchell Chefitz

“Do you know the four creation stories? You know how God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh? That is the ‘P” fragment. I think that”s how you call it, you who are masters of the documentary theory.”

He could have said nothing to cause greater surprise. To hear that he had supported the building of their institution in Jerusalem was astonishing. The Orthodox community had been adamant, at times militant, in opposition. To hear from the mouth of a Hasid any reference to the documentary theory of the authorship of the Torah was beyond astonishing. The documentary theory attributed the Torah to four different writers, in four different periods, and undermined every notion of divine revelation, a notion central to Orthodoxy.

“That,” he continued, “is the first creation story. Then you have your ‘J” account, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Creation story number two. You can be sure I didn”t teach it like this in Meah Shearim.”

Laughter broke the tension, Reb Hayim was speaking their language. resistance disappeared in spite of his dress.
“Now there are two more creation stories. I know you don”t often think of them as such. But there is the story of the generation of Noah, and then the generation of the Tower of Babel. Four creation stories altogether.

“In the first God creates our world of nature, puts Adam into it, and gives him the power to give names. That”s a sharing with Adam of divine power, an investment in Adam of a divine attribute. God takes some His stuff and puts in into exile, into space and time in the form of Adam. What does this Adam do? He complains. He says, “It”s not working for me out here. I”m lonely. Take me back.” God doesn”t want to take him back. He puts him to sleep, divides him into two, and sets him back into the garden. The first rebellion against the exile from God is Adam”s complaint. It fails because God has a solution for him. A partner. The original Adam, was male and female combined, is now separated further from God. No longer a oneness. Adam becomes a twoness. For me this is the end of the first creation story.”

Reb Hayim paused and examined the face of each student for questions. When there were none, he continued. “Creation story number two, the rebellion of Eve. Eve sees how far she and Adam have been put into exile, how far they are away from God. She wants to get back. How does she do it? She tries to eat her way back. She eats the fruit of the tree of knowledge [of good and bad], gives Adam some to eat. What does God do? God puts them further into exile. He doesn”t want them back so quick. He boots them out of the Garden of Eden before they can eat from the Tree of Life and cancel out creation. He puts an angel with a sword at the gate to make sure they can”t get back.

“Why doesn”t he want them back?”

It was not clear if the question was rhetorical or an answer was expected. Reb Hayim paused, closed his eyes, and swayed gently in his chair. “Imagine this. Imagine you had just built a building for a million dollars and had it fully leased. It was intended to provide income for you and your family for the next fifty years. What if someone came to you the day after it was built and said he”d like to buy the building for from you. He”d give you a million and one dollars. Do you want to sell it to him? Look, you”d make a dollar profit! But that”s not what you want out of it. You chase him away and say, come back in fifty years when the building has lived up to the purpose I created it for.

“So God has a big investment in the universe. He”s not looking for a dollar profit. Adam complains. God finds a solution. He doesn”t let him back home. Eve rebels. God kicks them out. God says to the man and woman, “Do some work. Go out there and continue my work of creation.”

“Ten generations pass. The generation of Noah is an evil generation. Why are they evil? What are they doing? They are having sex with angels, that”s what they”re doing. Adam and Eve tried to eat their way back. The generation of Noah was trying to fornicate they”re way back. And God drowned their rebellion. The way you”d throw a bucket of water on some fornicating dogs, God threw a bucket of water on a fornicating generation. He saved Noah and his family and sent them further into exile.”
The image was strong enough to create a stir among the students.

“And then the generation of the Tower of Babel. What were they trying to do? It wasn”t that they were building a tower to climb back to heaven. Read it closely. They were creating a name for themselves. A shem to get back to shemayim. Shem means name. Shemayim, which means heaven, may be derived from the word shem. It”s the place of the Divine Name. So what does God do? God confuses their language and puts them further into exile, further away.

“And that was the state of the world when our father Abraham came on the scene. Creation had been pushed away from God, through Adam, through Eve, through the generation of Noah, through the generation of the Tower of Babel.

“Now, what was Abraham”s greatness?”

No one dared answer, but Reb Hayim heard the unspoken response.

“No. He wasn”t the first to recognize there was one God. Do you think Adam didn”t know there was one God? That Noah didn”t know? Abraham”s greatness was that he was the first to begin the process of redemption. He went out to the corners of the desert, set up his tent, and begin to bring in strangers. We human beings had grown so far apart from each other, we had forgotten how to talk to each other. He begins the process of the return to God”

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