Sisterhood Blog

Could Eve Have Been Happy About the Expulsion?

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share

For so long, I took their word for it. Eve — the world’s first woman according to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions — messed up. Her punishment, two-fold.

One, she was kicked out of Eden, sweet Eden, where she spent her days sauntering around naked, no shame in her step. There she led a life of comfort and ease. Absent was hunger, fatigue and ever needing a jacket.

Two, she would be subservient to her husband and experience great pain in childbirth.

Before I had a kid I always focused on how horrible it was that she was to be ruled by her husband (though, very interesting that this was considered a punishment way back when), and suffer great pain in childbirth. And then I had my son and began to see it otherwise.

The expulsion from Eden wasn’t just a punishment, it was also the most marvelous of gifts! We lost the ability to live in God’s perfect creation, but gained the ability to create ourselves. East of Eden, Eve was able to have children.

Being pushed out of Eden was supposed to push us further away from from all that is infinite, eternal, immaterial and majestic. But having a child, making new life out of life, out of love, surely, brings us closer to the mysterious force behind existence. This is the case with actual children, and anything other replications of our selves we might create as human beings, whether through art, words or motorcycle stunts.

My son is fourteen-months old now. At this point I have mostly forgotten the pain, exhaustion and feelings of complete ineptitude. The suffering is completely overwhelmed by my son, my life, a giddy and buoyant creature who makes me feel giddy and buoyant in return. I suspect Eve, mother of all living things, would have experienced this same rush. I doubt Eden could have been that much better.

The bible only has Eve speaking one line following the expulsion from Eden. “I have gotten a man from the lord,” she says, describing the birth of her first born son Cain.

What Eve doesn’t mention here is as interesting as what she does. She makes no reference to the pain of childbirth, nor does she speak of Adam. The two things that were supposed to define her existence post-Eden go completely unmentioned, potentially ignored.

Eve does, however, mention the Lord. This might have been an act of deference to the figure whom was the only parent she ever knew. Or maybe it was a declaration of the feeling of divinity that she, like me, experienced by giving birth to a child.

Interpretations of Eve’s story have always been subject to the social, moral and political conventions of the time, and for a long, long time those conventions were unfair, to put it politely, to women. Though now that time has mostly passed and we are free to open ourselves up to aspects of this formative myth that went unexplored for centuries.

For me, this began with paying more attention to what she said after she left Eden and created something of her own, and discovering that I feel exactly the same.

Photo credit Wikimedia Commons

This is reprinted with permission from LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture, a program of the 14th Street Y that uses classic Jewish texts to inspire the creation of art, dialogue and study.

They’ve just put out their first journal of the year, featuring art, music, writing and some rather subversive Torah commentary. This latest one is all about Eve, and takes a look at mothers as creators and destroyers of all living things — a topic most of us can relate to. Join them at the Manhattan 14th Y on 1/25 for theater, music and a short lecture on creative and destructive mothers.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: childbirth, Jewish, Eve, Eden

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.