yom kippur.which shoes did adam wear when he was run out of the garden of eden?sneakers

 The Biblical path to a return to purity


Parallel between the traditionally-forbidden activities of Yom Kippur and the post-Edenic human condition (as described in the Biblical account)


[The Wikipedia article on Yom Kipper references this version. The original is in Hebrew; also here.]

SynopsisThe traditionally-forbidden activities on Yom Kippur (such as the prohibition on wearing leather shoes) seem odd, but make much more sense when seen as paralleling the Biblically-described conditions of the new reality facing humanity after being ejected from the garden. 

Reason for the parallel: Yom Kippur (and the concept of 'repentance') can be seen as having been established to atone for the transgression of Eden, or more-so to enable a path of return-to-purity, and so on that day one attempts to transcend the physical and to symbolically resemble Adam and Eve prior to the transgression/expulsion. This is accomplished by refraining from the aspects of the post-Eden reality mentioned in the Eden account. Instead one seeks an inner change ('repentance'), to return to a pristine state, and seeks life in the face of the death that has been humanity's fate ever since the expulsion.

According to that account, free choice between good and evil was initiated then, and hard work and death became part of human destiny. On Yom Kippur, the annual day of return to a state of pre-transgression, there is also a symbolic return to the Garden, to a place and time before work and death was decreed, before humanity made a free choice to transgress, and thus a day of refraining from specific activities and conditions mentioned in the Eden account.


Rabbis in sneakers on a holy-day: Those who observe Yom Kippur in the Traditional manner walk about on their holy day wearing tennis shoes ('sneakers'), slippers and the like - including white-bearded rabbis, who are otherwise wearing their holiday finery. Why? The Torah (Jewish Bible) states that on that high holy day "ve-initem et nafsho'techem", loosely translated as "you should afflict your spirit", with no further elaboration in the text as to what it entails. So why sneakers?
The traditional perspective on the relationship between the oral and written Torah: According to Jewish tradition, Biblical commandments were received in the Sinai desert soon after the exodus from Egypt, and the Jewish people observed them (those not specified as being relevant only in the land of Israel) at that time, being taught by Moses the appropriate means of observance decades prior to the actual giving of the complete written Torah around the time of Moses' death almost 40 years later. Indeed, Tradition states that the written Torah, rather than being the source of the commands and of the description of the relevant observance, is more of a mnemonic for the detailed commands and accounts which were given orally piece-wise years earlier, and then formally given years later in their totality orally along with the full written text. 
Application to the biblical commands regarding Yom Kippur: In consonance with this perspective, the Written Torah's enigmatic phrase mentioned above ("ve-initem et nafshotechem") refers to an observance of Yom Kippur well-known during the years prior to receiving the written Torah, namely a prohibition from engaging in five specific activities: wearing (leather) shoes, using cosmetics and lotions etc, washing, eating/drinking, and sexual relations. The Talmud and other sources indicate how one could also 'derive' this list of forbidden activities, for example from the usage of the work "inuy" (root of 'initem') elsewhere in the Torah. 
We will however indicate here a novel 'derivation' - in that the five proscribed activities can be seen as arising from the Biblically-described parameters of post-Edenic existence; we also indicate why there would be such a parallel.

 

Parallel between the traditionally-forbidden activities of Yom Kippur and the post-Edenic human condition


The parallels: Adam and Eve were in different physical and spiritual states prior to and after the transgression/expulsion - the change in the state is indicated by the terms of God’s expulsion edict[1].

 

·       “by the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread”; before transgression there was no need to make food, it was all readily available, nor was it necessary to eat in order to be sustained and so hunger for food was a symbol of humanity's new condition, and of course the transgression involved eating (from the Tree of Knowledge); so on Yom Kippur, to atone and also to symbolically revert to the pre-transgression state, one refrains from food and drink; also, one refrains from normal weekday work, which we engage in to put food on the table, food which was available without work in Eden.

 

·       “by the sweat of your brow”: The implication understood traditionally is that in Eden, before transgression, there was no sweat[2]. Sweating, body odors etc are all symbols of humanity's new condition: therefore to atone, and also to symbolically revert to the pre-transgression state when these did not exist, one refrains from washing or the use of cosmetics and lotions designed to help us smell or look better;

 

·       “you will give birth in pain (labor)" [3]; "your man will desire you", and "he will rule over you”. Humanity was intended to be immortal, and marital relations - if present in Eden - were not necessary to maintain the species. Procreation, a necessity in ensuring the survival of newly-mortal humanity, became a symbol of this new mortality, and so in atonement and to symbolically mimic the pre-transgression level, sexual relations are refrained from on Yom Kippur.

 

·       To humanity: “thorns will be in your path": to the snake: "they shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise their heel" (that is, humans will attempt to crush the sake's head, and the snake will try to bite their heel): in Eden there was no need for shoes as protection against thorns, for protection of one's heel from snakes etc; the need for them today is a symbol of humanity’s post-Edenic state. On Yom Kippur therefore, shoes are not worn. (specifically leather shoes: Immediately after their transgression, the Bible recounts that God made leather garments for Adam and Eve, and so 'garments' in this connection are understood to mean leather ones, and so the Traditional prohibition on shoes is understood as being limited to leather ones).


In addition: According to some commentators the essential transgression may have been Adam’s blaming his wife, and we can utilize this insight to explain why Yom Kippur is meant not merely for humanity to seek forgiveness from God but to ask each other for forgiveness.

 

SummaryThe Traditional understanding of the Biblical path to achieving atonement for transgression(sin): As was the case before the construction of the mishkan in the desert and the Temple in Jerusalem, atonement can be achieved for transgression by refraining from eating, drinking, ashing/'anointing', wearing protective leather shoes, and marital relations; by refraining from the weekday effort to 'make a living'; and by these together with seeking rapprochement with one's fellow human beings (and with God), one can approach symbolically humanity's pre-transgression level.

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AppendixSource passages in GenesisChapters 2 and 3: Based on the highlighted text, one can see the parallels between the conditions after the expulsion and the forbidden activities of Yom Kippur, the “inuyim” and ordinary work, as well as to the focus on repentance and praying for continued life. 

 

2: 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying: 


eating/drinking/death:

'Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.' 

 

shoes

chapter 3: 14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent: 'Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;

 they shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise their heel.' 


marital relations:

16 Unto the woman He said: 

'I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.' 


weekday work (forbidden on the holiday):

17 And unto Adam He said: 'Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying: Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. 


shoes

18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. 


cleansing

19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread


DEATH/Mortality: 

till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.'

 

22 And the LORD God said: 'Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; 

DEATH/Mortality: 

and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.' 


23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 


DEATH/Mortality: 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every way, 

to keep the way to the tree of life.

 





The older website-location of the above article 

 



[1] Note: Only the snake and the ground were cursed, Adam and Eve were NOT!

[2] and the mystical equivalent, 'zuhama'.

[3] Possibly also: re: “harbeh arbeh etzvonech": from the context in Iyov (Job) we see that "itzavon" means ‘work/labor’ ;  in general humanity was now to work for a living: Yom Kippur is termed "shabat shabaton" in the Torah, and so all the activities forbidden on Shabat are foriden too on Yom Kippur.

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