Human Rights: The Emergence Of ADAM

The Emergence of ADAM (Part One)

In this class we will begin our exploration of the idea of ADAM in the Zohar. We will begin with the heart of the Zohar’s presentation of ADAM, which is also the hardest text that we’ll see in this course. It is with some trepidation that I present this text to you. It’s a very strange text, at first, and I’m concerned that you may find it difficult to relate to it. Over time, I’ve come to think of it as one of the deepest and most powerful pieces of literature that I’ve ever encountered. However, when I first encountered it, it seemed pretty bizarre to me, too. I’m hoping, with some luck, to expose to you some of what I find so powerful about this text.

The text is the “Idra Rabba” or Great Assembly. The Zohar is not so much one book as a whole literature, composed of a number of semi-independent works, and the Idra Raba is often thought of as its central work. My strategy for approaching the Idra in our course has been to create a sort of “skeleton” edition of the text. While only a small portion of the text of the Idra, I’ve chosen selections that represent its central themes, with an emphasis on its presentation of ADAM.

We’ll take two classes to work on the selections from the Idra. For this class, I hope you’ll read through the selections a couple of times. The goal is to get a general sense of the spirit of the text. Next class, we’ll focus on making as much sense as we can of the idea of ADAM as it appears in the Idra. I added a foreword to the selections from the Idra, and there you’ll find further instructions about how to read the text, and an overview of some of its central ideas. I also added notes on the text itself.

Here is a link to the Selections from the Idra.

Here are links to the video lecture for this week. Part One. Part Two. They’re both in the Short Version Playlist. (You could either watch the video and then approach the text, or the opposite.)

Lecture Part 1:

Lecture Part 2:

Here’s a link to the Encyclopedia Judaica article on the Zohar. The Wikipedia article is also fine. Here’s a link to the whole Zohar online with English translation.