The first human ever to walk the earth was named Adam. The Torah explains the name. The Hebrew word for earth is adama. God
formed man from the dust of the earth, and on the simplest level, that connection with adama, earth, is the basis for man's
name. Once Adam sinned and ate the forbidden fruit, he introduced death to the world and was sentenced to once again return
to the earth from which God created him. The mystics pointed to various deeper meanings within the name Adam, providing layers
of insight that can make our own existence more meaningful. The name Adam does indicate one's lower earthly nature. But are
we really nothing more than the complicated mammals?
CONTROL OR BE CONTROLLED
Control or be Controlled
The name Adam alludes to man's ability to transcend on an even deeper level. The word Adam is comprised of the letter
aleph, followed by dalet and mem, the letters than spell the word dam which means blood. We need blood to sustain physical
life, but it reflects the lower aspects of man. Blood has long been associated with hot temperament and loss of self control.
Shakespeare described one of his quick tempered characters as "governed by a spleen," an internal organ containing
a reservoir of blood. The lowest aspect of one's soul, an aspect of soul common to every animal, resides in one's blood.
In the name Adam, the word dam is preceded by the letter aleph. The letter aleph is also a word which means to teach or
inculcate. It similarly indicates leadership, as implied by the related word aluf which means a general or tribal head. God
created man with many base desires that reside in the blood, but he also gave us the means to assert our control over them
and be an aluf over the dam. By being in control instead of subject to the dominion of our impulses, man, who is created in
the image of God, resembles God. In this connection, the name Adam also alludes to the word adameh which means I will liken
myself, indicating one's ability to emulate God.
THE EARTH'S POTENTIAL
The Earth's Potential
In addition to the adama being a low place in the world, there is another aspect of the adama which is perhaps its defining
feature. The earth is a realm in which we can plant and yield fruits, giving rise to new life which was not there beforehand.
Man's kinship with the ground hints to his greatest potential. Before creating Adam, God said, "Let us make man" in the plural.
With whom could God possibly partner when creating humankind? According to one approach, He consulted with His ministering
angels and asked them what they thought about creating man. A fierce debate ensued. Some of the angels argued against creating
man and others in favor. For example, the angel representing kindness was for man's creation, for man bestows kindness. Truth
opposed man's creation, since humans are full of lies. God heard these arguments, and finally seized the angel representing
truth and hurled it onto the ground, as it says in the verse, "and He threw truth to the ground" and created man anyway. The
other angels protested. How could God abandon truth, which is known as His signature? God responded "may truth rise from the
ground" and our Sages then cited the verse, "truth shall grow from the ground."
The whole dialogue in the heavens appears bizarre at first glance. Why did God need to consult with His angels before creating
man? Why did He reject truth in order to create Adam? Were the angels negotiating with Him? How did they convince Him to revive
the angel of truth? Did He really change his mind? A core tenet of Jewish consciousness is that when the rabbis tell stories
like this one, they really mean to convey a deeper message hidden deep within the parable.
The Maharal of Prague explained that throwing truth to the ground was by no means a rejection of truth. It was an investment
in truth. The proof is in the verse our Sages used to explain the revival of truth: "truth shall grow from the ground." God
never rejected truth; instead He planted in the ground. The metaphor of the ground and its centrality in man's name is no
coincidence. The simple act of planting a seed is a powerful symbol of man's potential. Recall that day in kindergarten where
you might have planted a bean in a plastic cup so that it would grow into a plant for mother's day. Every day you checked
to see whether anything had grown. At first, you were disappointed as you watched the seed. It looked like it was falling
apart and rotting. You wanted to throw it out, but your teacher insisted that you wait. One day, a green shoot appeared from
amidst the smelly decay. It continued to grow and grow, until there was a beautiful leafy plant, with the potential for an
infinite number of new plants. Therein lies the secret of God's sowing truth. There is a very physical side to every human,
but and often it brings us to places of rot and decay, places in which we can wreak more havoc on creation than the most destructive
animal. Yet we also have the ability to transcend that downward pull and grow from the earth into something greater with almost
There were angels that opposed man's creation. The angel representing truth argued that humans lie, and they have the potential
to destroy the world. In contrast, angels are perfect. An angel is the manifestation of God's will, and is completely unable
to deviate even an iota from that will. An angel has a name that reflects its mission since that is all the angel is. Angels
cannot choose to disobey and have no minds of their own.
Humans, however, have free choice. Every person has the ability to decompose and succumb to the earthly pull, or to defy the
gravity of physicality and elect to follow more spiritual pursuits. Like the ground, man can produce a virtually unlimited
bounty of fruits. Man's decision to live on a higher plane is infinitely more meaningful than an angel's spiritual existence
since it is the result of man's choice and rejection his lower self, or his channeling it to a higher place. We all have ups
and downs, but we can choose the realm with which we most identify and whether or not we will bounce back after we have fallen.
FROM ETERNITY TO DEATH AND BACK
From Eternity to Death and Back
Adam himself represented man's colossal potential, as well as how far he could fall. Adam's understanding of the world was
vast, and his dominion complete until he ate from the forbidden fruit. God created Adam to be immortal, something that remains
true of the soul, but not of the body. Adam himself succumbed to the dam in his name, and failed to rule over his inclination.
He introduced death into the world, something which had not applied to human beings before that point in time. Yet although
he shrank in stature, elements of the higher Adam, the potential for accomplishing greatness, remained.
Adam lived for 930 years. Our Sages explained that he really should have lived for a complete millennium, but he willingly
gave up 70 years of his life to someone who would use them to reverse the death sentence that Adam had introduced to mankind.
Adam prophetically saw that a potential descendent of his to be born thousands of years later had not been allocated years
and he sacrificed 70 of his own so that person would live.
The recipient of those years was none other than King David, the scion of the messianic line which will usher in the end of
time. Our tradition teaches that the Moshiach will help bring the world to its perfection and toward revival of the dead,
reversing Adam's colossal mistake. Adam knew this, and realized that it was critical for him to ensure that King David would
live and accomplish his task in the world. Adam had brought death to the world, and to correct that, he ensured that there
would be someone to bring us back to eternal life
By confronting our lower aspects and overcoming them, we can accomplish things that no angel can. The name Adam is therefore
revealing. It describes our lower side, the tremendous downward pull and animal instinct within each of us. But it also alludes
to our ability to become great -- not in spite of our physical side but because of it and through our resisting its desires.
Through our earthy nature, we are planted and have the opportunity to produce fruits through rising from the decay and becoming
more than we were beforehand. The choice is ours. We can be governed by our blood impulses, as was Eisav in the Torah who
killed when he did not get what he wanted and was therefore called Edom, red, alluding to his being controlled by blood instinct,
or we can become stronger and loftier, remaining in control of our destinies as we always subjugate the dam in Adam to the
aleph that precedes it.
Upright posture distinguishes humans from other beings, and that characteristic reflects more than just an anatomical difference.
Unlike other mammals which look naturally down and connect to only their instinctual and physical nature, humans stand up
straight and look ahead. We can choose whether to look up, to grow from the ground, or look down, and sentence ourselves to
a life dominated by our lower side. Each one of us is created in the image of God with unbelievable potential, and the name
Adam alludes to the pitfalls we must avoid, and the tremendous growth we can experience.
About the Author
Rabbi Doniel Baron is a senior lecturer at Aish HaTorah's Discovery Seminar. He received his law degree from NYU School of
Law and practiced law at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. He presently lives in Jerusalem with his wife and children.
CHAVAH: Mother of All Living
In English, we refer to her as Eve. Yet, that is not her Hebrew name and her English translation doesn’t carry with
it any of the importance or significance of her real name, Chavah. Furthermore, there are even some links between the word
“Eve” and “evil,” blaming her for the evil brought into the world due to the sin of eating from the
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yet Chavah, according to the Torah, is clearly a positive figure, and the sin, while
a complicated discussion in itself, is most often explained as a descent for the sake of an ascent.
So what does Chavah mean?
According to the Jewish mystical tradition, there are three main concepts connected to the Hebrew name Chavah. The first comes
from the explanation given in the Torah itself: because she is em kol chai - the mother of all life (Genesis 3:20).
The medieval commentator Rashi explains this phrase. The name Chavah is a derivative of the Hebrew word chayah, meaning “living
one.” Chavah embodies both the essence of life itself and the creative ability to grant that life to others. The idea
of “mother of all life” expresses not only the ability to physically give birth, but also to create, nourish,
and enhance all facets of life. This is the ability of a mother - to take something from the state of potential, develop it,
and bring it to actualization through her creative abilities.
Chavah is not only the mother of life but also represents the experience of life.
The question though still remains as to why Chavah wasn’t called Chayah? What is the difference between these two names?
When looking at them in their Hebrew spelling, the difference in each name is one letter. The name Chavah has a vav which
is numerically equal to six, and Chaya has the letter yud which is numerically equal to 10. The difference between these two
number is four, the letter dalet. Rabbi Ginsburgh teaches that if we add the letter dalet to the name Chavah, we get the word
chedvah, meaning “joy.” This teaches us that we transform Chavah into Chayah, into “life,” when she
can birth with joy.
It is vital to mention that this is not merely the idea of physical birth. The concept of being a mother is being creative,
birthing new realities into this world. And as we bring these lives into the world, we must do it with joy, even though the
process may be a painful one.
The second understanding of the name Chavah focuses on its connection to the word chavayah, which means experience. Chavah
is not only the mother of life but also represents the experience of life.
The marriage of the first couple, Adam and Chavah, is truly a marriage of the human experience, the human condition.
With this explanation, we can better understand the relationship between her and Adam, her husband. The name Adam is not merely
a first name whose literal meaning is man, but also refers to mankind, to humanity in general. Therefore, the marriage of
the first couple, Adam and Chavah, is that of the representation of human experience, that of the human condition!
The third meaning stems from a verse in the book of Psalms (19:3) "Night following night expresses knowledge." The Hebrew
word for expression is yechaveh, which is also related to the word chavah. In this vein, there is a verse in the book of Job
(36:2)"Wait for me a little while, and I will show you." The Hebrew phrase for I will show you is veachavecha, again from
the same root. This third meaning of Chavah can be understood as expression, revelation, or manifestation.
Ultimately, these three meanings work together. How does Chavah, the first woman, represent the mother of all life? Through
experience as expression and through expression as experience she mothers all life. She shapes and develops formless matter,
carrying it within her until it is ready to be born. However, the mothering process does not end with physical birth, for
she then continues to nurse this life, feeding and sustaining it physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She continues to
nourish it throughout its life, helping to actualize its latent potential and helping this life to develop and experience
its utmost expression. And by doing this, she is constantly giving birth to new levels of ability and depth of life experience,
both within herself and within all those around her, earning the title “mother of all life.”
Adapted from an article published in Jewish Women Speak About Jewish Matters, edited by Sarah Tikvah and Doron Kornbluth
BY SARA ESTHER CRISPE
Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the co-director of Interinclusion, a nonprofit
multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish
wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org, and wrote the popular weekly blog Musing for Meaning.
About the artist: Sheva Chaya created the art for TheJewishWoman.org homepage. An art graduate from Princeton University,
Sheva Chaya works in watercolor and glass, vibrantly exploring Jewish and women's themes. Her work can be seen in her studio
in Tsfat, Israel and on her website.
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Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
All four passages in the Bible that contain the name "Eve" refer to the wife of the original man, Adam ( Gen 3:20 ; 4:1 ;
2 Col 11:3 ; 1 Tim 2:13 ). Her creation takes place after God's assertion that "it is not good for the man to be alone" (
Gen 2:18 ), his announcement that he will make the man a helper who corresponds to him (ezer kenegdo), his peer and complement,
and the observation that no other creature yet formed is suitable (vv. 18-20). All this illustrates the innate human need
for community. Indeed, the marriage relationship involving these first two humans (vv. 24-25) typifies all forms of human
coexistence designed to satisfy the primal yearning for fellowship.
Subordination is not inherent in the use of the term, ezer [r;z', "helper" ( Genesis 2:18 Genesis 2:20 ), as is clear from
the fact that it is frequently used of God in relation to humans (e.g., Exod 18:4 ; Deut 33:7 ; Psalm 33:20 ; 70:5 ;  Psalms
115:9 Psalms 115:10 Psalms 115:11 ; 146:5 ). The description of the woman being created from the man's rib ( Gen 2:21-22 )
highlights the kind of affinity between man and woman that is not possible between humans and other creatures. That fact is
emphasized in the man's joyful cry of recognition when God presents the woman to him: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh
of my flesh" (v. 23). Some detect evidence of male headship in the prefall narrative (e.g., the man's prior creation, the
woman's derivation from the man, his designation of her as woman, and the focus on a man's initiative in the establishment
of a marriage relationship [ Genesis 2:7 Genesis 2:21-24 ]). Others suggest the idea of man's subjugation of woman is introduced
only after the fall when God describes the various forms of humiliation, enmity, pain, and drudgery that result from human
rebellion against him ( 3:14-19 ).
The only positive prospect mentioned by God as he spells out the fall's consequences is that, in the context of the ongoing
enmity between the woman and her offspring, on the one hand, and the serpent and his offspring, on the other, the woman's
offspring will dominate the serpent's ( 3:15 ). In the immediate setting this statement is probably intended to represent
humanity's continuing struggle with evil and to anticipate the eventual vanquishment of evil. From the perspective of the
New Testament the ultimate realization of that hope is to be found in the triumph of God and his kingdom over evil and the
evil one ( Luke 10:17-19 ; Rom 16:20 ; Heb 2:14 ; Rev 12 ).
Genesis 3:20 describes Adam assigning his wife the name, Eve, "because she would become the mother of all the living." The
original Hebrew form of the name, hawwa [h"W;j], is apparently a derivative of, or a paronomasia on, the verb haya [a"y}j],
which means "live." Adam's comment reinforces the idea that all of humanity constitutes a family, a family for which the unsavory
consequences of human transgression and the possibility of human redemption are a common heritage.