"One generation goes and another comes, but the earth remains the same forever."
"The breath of life was enclosed in the earth, which
became pregnant with it."
—I Zohar 49a
is adamah, the fertile red loam, and also afar,
the scattered dust, and also aretz, the beloved land.
The Divine took dust from the earth, afar min ha'adamah,
to make the body of the human being, and from the earth the Divine
caused all fruitful trees to grow, as well as the Tree of Life
and the Tree of Knowledge. The earth is that which remains solid
and steady, for it says: "You set the earth on its foundations,
so that it should never be shaken." All things get their food
from the earth, as it says: "you grow grass for the beasts, and
you make plants for humans to harvest, that they may get bread
from the earth." Into the earth we go when we die, as the Divine
says to Adam: "Your return will be to the ground (adamah)
from which you are taken, for dust (afar) you are, and
to dust you shall return." So too Job says: "Naked came I from
my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there." Earth is assiyah,
the world of the body and of the real. Its color is black like
rich soil. It is the world of doing, of planting seeds and reaping
fruit. It is the world of the angel Raphael, of tending and healing.
It is the world of the matriarch Rachel, who is the root of her
people. And it is the world of the Divine presence, the Shekhinah:
the one who fills the earth and all who dwell there.
Jewish texts dwell on the fruit, trees and grasses of the earth. Stones of
the earth become pillows for Jacob's head, adornments for the
high priest, and symbols for the twelve tribes. And the Jewish
year uses the seasons of the earth as a sacred compass, giving
each season a different festival and a different truth. This section
is filled with thoughts on plants, stones and seasons, the calendar,
the body, healing, and other earth-wisdom.