i remember getting into a lot of trouble when i was younger.
my childhood is riddled with story after story of me doing so many awful things. i got so good at being so bad, i learned how to get others in trouble. mostly, by pointing the finger. it gave me power. it gave me this sort of immunity over justice. as long as i had a ‘fall guy’,it wasn’t full proof mind you, but it sure made my odds more realistic. it also gave me the cockiness to think i could get away with it. i have since learned that this approach to relationships isn’t a healing one. it doesn’t encourage reparation, if anything it makes sure healing doesn’t happen.
this knowledge i gained as a young child stole some of my innocence. i knew how to judge situations so well that i could manipulate people into doing what i wanted. this is not a good thing. it’s this knowledge i want to talk about. the knowledge of good and evil and how it can and has already gotten us into a lot of trouble.
adam and eve is one of those stories that has a lot of meanings.
it isn’t a story just about two literal people, in fact, their is archaeological evidence that demonstrates the story originated on a scroll in ancient Mesopotamia. one of the many deeper layered meanings could be about judging others. adam and eve wanted what wasn’t theirs. they consumed. but what did they consume? they consume the knowledge to know between good and evil. the ability to judge. to separate the difference between right and wrong which in turn could lead to the same very thing i got into the habit of doing, judging and incriminating others for my wrongdoing, essentially this happens in the Garden account. Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the snake and so on. The blame game begins. Judgement is now in the hands of man, and it already has dangerous implications.
What they didn’t come to realize is that part of the story is that it wasn’t their place to know the difference, or to judge others. In fact, at one point, Eve assumes the fruit she wasn’t meant to eat was also good for Adam. She judges not only for herself but for another person; that what is good for her is also good for someone else. Isn’t this at the heart of judgement?
why do we judge? why do we point the finger?
not only because is it about power, manipulation, or blame, but it could also be about the fear of being alone. that we need others to journey with us so we feel like what we believe or where we’re going is right and true. we need validation and so we judge others. we try and make them like us. we pull out our cookie-cutters and begin etching away on those around us. yet, i think we forget that we are created to be us, as God had intended. you are you. i am me. we need to throw away the cookie-cutters.
the hebrew mind puts judgement not just above ourselves, but equates the act to divine judgement. one of the many hebrew words for judgement is the same exact one as elohim used in the beginning of the bible when it says that ‘in the beginning God (elohim) created…’ — judgement is a God-act only. reserved for the godhead. paul deals with this in the first few chapters of romans and almost condemns the church and basically says that if they think they have right to judge others than they also have a right to be god.
another hebrew word for judge is the word duwn, or diyn. it means to make straight. in one place, the writer modernises the meaning as ‘umpire’. someone who determines whether something is right or wrong and makes the call. another place defines it as making a way straight. another place uses the similar word to ‘law’-suit, or sentence or tribunal. judgement in these contexts are public things. they are exposing kinds of things. they embarrass another. they cheapen the reputation of another. they create a relationship where one person is superior and the other is inferior. its a relationship of power and manipulation. not of healing. another definition for the word judge/judgement is justice. a setting things right. but justice is a holistic thing in the hebrew mind. it sets all things right.
so what if judgement is about healing?
what if judgement isn’t about the person standing next to us, but what if judgement is more about how we are making the world a better place to be. maybe it could be about how we all work together to find the good in the world and as some Jews believe/d help repair that good/divine in it. maybe judgement is about seeing the good rather than the bad. in fact, another word in the hebrew for judge means to cheer. not to cheer for the folly of another person, but to believe in the best of another person. to be a cheerleader of the other. to bring out the best in another person, to search out opportunities to cheer one another on to be the best them they were intended to be.
judging others in the traditional sense doesn’t allow much space for healing the world or broken relationships, in the traditiona sense it is the opposite of cheering and more like how adam and eve might have got it wrong. and so if judgement is about justice and setting things right, maybe we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder and believe in and dream out the kind of world god intended. i hope we can.