Then God called out.
“Where are you?” Adam, where are you is a question from God, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent? It is a rhetorical question, for God certainly knew the whereabouts of the physical presence of Adam. But that was not the intent of the question.
God was asking
“Where are you emotionally, spiritually? From the beginning we have been together. There are no boundaries between you and Me and all that I set before thee. But something has happened. You no longer rely on me nor follow My lead. So the time has come for you and Eve to leave this place, this Garden, your first home. But know this, you will return to Me, to the Source, and I will be waiting for you to embrace you with My boundless love. And we will be together as before.”
There are those who bemoan the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Had they not disobeyed God’s commandment not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, we would all be living in paradise. And the story of the human journey would have ended. But they chose to eat of the fruit and condemned, or gifted, all of us with free will.
Free-will can lead us away from paths of righteousness. We attempt to make amends, do Tshuva, repent.
True atonement comes only at the end of life when our energies unite. The melting of me with the energy of the world is becoming at one with the universe. This is my soul joining with the souls of others and with God, the infinite energy. Our desire for atonement begins at birth when we are expelled from our mother’s womb.
We are torn from the oneness of mother and child where all our needs had been met. We had eaten without swallowing. We had breathed without inhaling. We had floated in warm water, swaying gently with the movements of our mother, embraced by her. We were as one, attached to each other. We depended on her. She had made all the decisions for our well-being.
And then, without warning, we feel the walls closing in, suffocating us. We are being pushed, pulled and squeezed. And birth separates us from that oneness, in an instant, when the umbilical cord is cut, just like Adam and Eve escorted out from The Garden of Eden are separated for the first time from God, their life source.
As we were cut from our oceanic connection with our mother in a nanosecond, separated from her, our source of life, in order to begin a life separate from her, we were cut off from the Garden of Eden, a place of oceanic limitlessness, a merging of boundaries where one cannot see the other because one is with the other, part of the other, and we are sent on a journey to find and create our “self.”
But with the expulsion comes a yearning to return to that safe place. It is a yearning that follows us all of our lives, a desire to return to the Source.
For many of us, our lives are spent searching and yearning for a reconnection, a desire to be at-one with another-be it a spouse, with a parent, or with God. We search for atonement, peace and forgiveness. Spirituality is that search for that reconnection, a return to something about which we have some vague memory, some slim knowledge, undefined but palpable.
And the same yearning we have for the ineffable reveals itself in our yearning to re-experience the sense of joy and comfort-real or imagined from our past. It is the need to feel connected to something and someone beyond ourselves, because we are not meant to be alone.
We are not alone.
We are all connected to Eretz Yisrael. No matter the disparate views on what is means to be a Jew, or the ultimate borders of the land.
I take you back to Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers.
“The greatest threat, Yoel knew, came from within. Only the Jews could defeat the Jews. Yoel had learned, through repeated trauma, that the Jews needed to accommodate each other’s conflicting dream and fears. Right, left, Orthodox, secular: all would have to live together again as a people in its land.”
We are not alone. We are Am Yisrael.