Gershon Hepner

Why Paradise Was Lost

Specialization calls for the renunciation of universality,

replacing it by focusing on what mistakenly might seem to be

a detail that may be regarded widely as a minor triviality,

as in a forest people wrongly might consider any single tree.

Study of a forest is the task that generalists who’re known as foresters all ply,

but on specialists who understand the individual trees they must rely,

lacking detailed knowledge about trees without which their generical vocation

would be no more productive than an animal’s asexual copulation.

The generalist and specialist need one another’s knowledge, and a hybrid

is now more easily created than it used to be when either becomes cybered,

since the wood of knowledge in which we’re accustomed now quite printlessly to wander

is illuminated by the data that can be emitted from a cyberyonder.

The tree of knowledge whose fruit was forbidden to both Eve and Adam, but consumed

by both when they weren’t covered by a clothing-code-designed disguise,

thus brought them both to be expelled from Eden, due to disobedience doomed,

causing them perhaps not to increase their knowledge, but to limit it and specialize.

The four letters of the Hebrew word for paradise, פרדס, are the first letters of פשט. peshat, which means “plain, contextual meaning,” רמז, remez, which means “hint,” דרש, derash, which means “deduced, midrashic meaning, and סוד, sod, meaning “secret.”  These are the four modalities that the rabbis have used traditionally in order to study biblical texts. My poem implies that the expression “paradise lost”  denotes the loss of the ability to use all four modalities in order to interpret biblical texts, leading to specialization in which scholars do not apply them all.

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at