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Nine most common mistakes regarding Judaism

Stubborn presumptions are embedded deep in us, even if they contradict apparent facts. As professional myth smashers striving to deliver the Jewish story as accurately as possible, we hereby reveal the most ten common mistakes. Enjoy!

Eve did not eat an apple

according to the Hebrew text in Genesis, Eve did not eat an apple, but rather “the fruit”, which according to the Midrash, was in fact a citron. The origin of the apple myth is Christian theology, in which red apples are associated with sexuality. This myth was expressed in many Renaissance frescos decorating cathedrals with spectacular images of Eve biting into a red apple. Ironically, the apple has become a symbol of the scientific revolution, after the discovery of the universal law of gravitation by Isaac Newton, and nowadays – the logo of “Apple”.

Achitofel’s advice was a good one

For most Hebrew speakers, “an Achitofel’s advice” is wrongly referred to as a bad advice. In fact, reading the original text on 2Samuel 16 shows that Achitofel was in fact an excellent consultant. Indeed he was unmoral, as he betrayed David and crossed the lines to assist Absalom when he thought the latter would win. His advice to Absalom was nonetheless a good one. When his suggestion was rejected – he realized he had placed the bet on the wrong horse and took his own life.

The Garden of Eden is not in heaven

According to later non Jewish interpretations, the Garden of Eden is up in heaven, however the Hebrew biblical text in Genesis places the garden between four rivers: Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel, Euphrates – located in the Middle East. So where is the garden today? Well, this remains unanswered. We can be optimistic and determine that sometimes, heaven can be found down here on earth.

King David was not a red head

We all grew up believing that King David was a red head. “…ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to”(1Samuel, 16,12). The character of the warrior and poet, the charismatic leader who played the harp is depicted in many works of art. Many red head children, whose only friend was the sunscreen, grew up fantasizing and hoping to become as pretty as King David. However the Hebrew biblical word translated as “ruddy” actually referred to black hair.

Moses did not stutter

Though the bible says “O my lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue (Exodus 10,4) – Moses did not suffer from stuttering. He simply wasn’t the most charming debater – that’s what he needed his brother Aaron for. This carries an important message for us – a leader can be chosen for the nature of his values and the strength of his personality, rather than for his articulacy or elegant appearance.

The Messiah will not come mounted on a white donkey

The origin of this belief is “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zacharia 9,9). The ass’s color however is not predefined.

“The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people” – actually, it wasn’t

(The opening sentence of the Proclamation of Independence) . Abraham, the nation’s patriarch, came from Ur Kasdim; most of Jacob’s sons were born abroad, and the nation was formed in Egypt and wandered for decades in the desert.

The Torah does not justify women’s subordination to men

Many people rely on this verse to determine that it is: “and thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis, 3, 16). However reading the verse again within its original context shows that it is in fact a punishment, just like “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” and “in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children”. Therefore, the more we strive to reduce men’s power over women – the more we mitigate the sentence.

Moses did not receive the Torah on Mount Sinai

According to the bible, only the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on the Sinai mountain. The Torah, say the sages, was given over forty years in the desert.

 

Beit Hatfutsot