"The human called out names for every animal … and for every living thing of the field" Genesis 2:20


Rabbinic literature explains that Parashat Bereshit is much more than a simple story of how God created the world and it should be questioned and carefully examined.

For Ramban, the work of Creation is "a deep secret that cannot be understood from simply reading the verses". For Rambam, it is "presented to us in parables, riddles and extremely enigmatic phrases".

Our prime protagonist, Ha'Adam or "The Human" as he is called throughout the first two chapters, suggests that this entity represents all humankind. Thus the story of Ha'Adam is a story of us all, presenting essential aspects of the underpinnings of our humanity. It is intriguing, then, to note that Ha'Adam's very first act is to name animals.

This naming is more than just an exercise of human judgment, but also a deep interaction with animal life and, according to the naming continued beyond the animal kingdom and ended with God Himself: "God asked, 'And yourself - what is your name?' 'I am Adam, for I am of earth [adamah].' 'And I', asked God, 'What is My name?' 'You are Adonai, for You are master (adon) of all."

Most intriguingly, God does not command the human but is quite passive, presenting the animals to Ha'Adam in hope that he might engage and name them. "God brought each to The Human, to see what he would call it." (2:19).

The human does name them, and "whatever the human called it … became its name", thus, making human interface integral to nature's reality.

Naming is the first human act in the Creation narrative, because it is the essential human act, the primal act of definition - our first step towards building a world with unique creativity and personal meaning. Thus the world is presented to us as the animals were presented to Ha'Adam - miscellaneously, without definitions and categorisations.

We become the definers and categorisers, and, by so engaging in defining and discovering meaning, we find the world to be personally precious. God looks forward to seeing what the world means to us, and hence, presents a wide-open world awaiting our individual input. As partners with God, we build our world together with Him, bearing the unmistakable mark of the human mind and creative spirit.

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