G-d created the Adam in His own image, in the image of G-d He created him, male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).

A critical word in most discussions of gender in the Torah is the word Adam, generally translated as man. However, the Hebrew word for man is eesh. Adam is a more general term that applies to a member of the human race. If one looks carefully at Genesis, one will find that Adam is almost always accompanied by the definitive article ha, the. In the Hebrew language, words are either masculine or feminine, there are no gender-neutral words. The Hebrew word “ha’adam” therefore, took on masculine endings and pronouns, but, as stated in the above verse, “male and female He created them.” Many biblical commentators conclude, therefore, that Adam was actually an androgynous creature, both male and female.

In those primordial times there were roosters and hens, bucks and does, and pigs and sows, but there was only one Adam. Only one creature possessed a neshama, a soul, and the power of intelligent speech. While Adam was a complete creature, it saw that all the other creatures had mates. God recognized Adam’s desire for a partner, noting: “It is not good for Adam to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Therefore, “God took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place, and of the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man, God built a woman” (Genesis 2:21-22).

Thus there was man and woman. The age old “idea” of man’s superiority over woman because she was created from his rib is as invalid as is the retort that woman was an improved version of man. At least according to this interpretation, Judaism sees man and woman as two halves of the same whole. Separated, neither is superior. Together, they represent the great potential of God’s creations.

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