Updated: Jan 1, 2022
BERESHIT (GEN 1.1 – 6.8)
Every year, for years I've been reading this part, it’s obviously the parshah I have read the most, and every year I have such strong feelings about it- The creation of “man” and “woman”- so often weaponized against trans and gay people, yet reading this has never made me feel excluded as a transperson.
So often, as a transgender man, I feel like I live in a liminal space, somewhere between the binary of male and female, and yet, despite this passage of the bible being so vehemently used against us- I feel like the language here actually explicitly INCLUDES me.
1.26 “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. They shall… “ – I almost want to read this as a plural god-form. I’m sure that’s wrong, but almost like a non-binary dual formed god. I know that’s probably not where the “our” comes from here, but that’s what it reads like for me.
1.27 “in the image of G-d he created him; male and female he created them”. Again THEM.
1.27 Wenig's commentary in TQ talks about the phrase “Zachar u’nikeva” by which “a whole is alluded to by it's parts”. For example:" There was evening, there was morning, the first day" includes evening, morning and all the times in between. So maybe “Zachar u’nikevah bara otam” is not ‘G-d created all beings male and/or female, but rather g-d created male, female and ALL things in between. In between, liminal... LIKE ME.
But of course, later in the parshah there's a HUGE discrepancy/confusion of the THEN creation of a second being, the “female”? According to Fox, the Hebrew word used here, "rib", can also mean "side", which seems to imply that the original being was just split in two, in which case it may have been androgynous. Which honestly, makes the most sense, to me.
This commentary from Keshetonline adds to this idea:
Bereishit Rabbah 8:1 (1) God said: Let us make Adam in our image, in our shape: R’ Yirmiyah ben Elazar said, when the Eternal created Adam initially, he was created as both genders; thus is it written, “male and female did God create them.” R’ Shmuel bar Nachman said, when the Eternal created Adam initially, God created him with two faces, one on each side, and [when God made Chavah,] God split him along the middle, forming two backs. They challenged him: but it is written, “And God took one of his ribs!” He said to them, [“mitzalosav” doesn’t mean rib, it means] one of his sides, similar to that which is said, “and to the ‘tzela‘ of the Tent,” which is translated “the side of the Tent.”