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Parshot Festivals

Why is there no Egged tour to the Garden of Eden?

  • RabbiNossel
I have climbed Mount Sinai. Although the exact location of Mount Sinai is unknown to archaeologists, I was fortunate enough to have toured with the real experts, the Egged bus company, and it knows exactly where it is.
by Rabbi Dr David Nossel | May 16, 2019

My new dream destination is the Garden of Eden. Not the Garden of Eden in the sky – for that I’m in no particular rush. I’m referring to the Garden of Eden described in the Bible, that comes replete with geographic demarcations and physical resources, indications that the garden is located very much here on earth. So, where is it? It seems to be a great mystery. Not even Egged seems to know.

According to the sages, G-d took Adam from the place of the Temple and put him in the Garden of Eden – informing us that the garden was definitely not at the site of the Temple. There seems to be no indication in our tradition that the garden was in the holy land. No wonder Egged doesn’t operate a Garden-of-Eden tour.

But a closer look at the biblical verse together with a bit of basic Hebrew knowledge gives us with the necessary co-ordinates to guide us straight to the gates of the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:10, it says, “And a river flows from Eden to nurture the garden; and from there it will separate and it will become four heads.”

From this verse, we learn a number of interesting things. First, Eden and the garden were two distinct places, Eden being the source of nurturing for the garden. Second, Eden, this source of nurturing for the garden, is connected to refinement, the Hebrew word Eden meaning refinement. Third, the river from Eden to the garden is still flowing to this day, the Hebrew word for flows, yotzei, being in the present tense. Fourth, once in the garden, the river transforms from the present into the future, the word yipared (it will separate) being in the future tense. Fifth, as it will flow from the garden, it will initiate new things – “heads” connote new beginnings.

From these observations we learn that Eden, the source of the garden, is to be found not in an atlas but in refinement, in improvement of our character and our behaviour. This source exists in the present, and is available to each and every one of us who is interested in improvement. Then, we need to know that the garden itself is located in the place where we take that refinement and redirect it outwards towards the future, channelling it into a new mode – that of giving to the four corners of the world.

The Garden of Eden is thus the place where we transform our Temple-based G-d-connection into kindness and caring for our surroundings, where we refine ourselves and transform that refinement into nurturing the world around us.

We don’t need a tour that goes to the Garden of Eden. It can be found wherever we choose it to be.

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