Tuesday, January 8, 2013

TEFILA: Malbish Arumim. Clothing vs. Evolution.

כשלובש את בגדיו הוא אומר:  מלביש ערומים

Previously (see here) we have explained that the Birkot haShaḥar  are organized as a careful description of all the steps that we take when we wake up every morning, from the moment we regain consciousness. We praise HaShem for our sight, for our working body, for our erected posture, etc. 

Today we will explore the blessing in which we praise (and thank!) God for providing us with clothing. "Blessed are You, HaShem our God, King of the Universe, Who clothes those who are naked". The rabbis established this blessing to be said when we are getting dressed, upon getting out of bed.

Humans are the only mammals that were created without fur.Every other mammal have a dense covering of fur. Primates included, from the short black pelage of the howler monkey to the flowing copper coat of the orangutan. Anthropologists are at odds over how to explain from an evolutionary point of view that humans have no fur. Because they find it impossible to imagine any benefits provided to naked people by natural selection.  In his "The descent of man and selection in relation to sex" Charles Darwin himself was convinced that no naturally selected advantage could be cited as evidence for the lack of body-fur in humans. 

When saying this berakha we remember that unlike other creatures, we have a unique dependency on clothing and that God Himself made for Adam and Eve their first clothes (Gen. 3:21), an act that the Rabbis understood as an expression of compassion and love from our Creator to us (Abuderham, 14th century). Every morning, we acknowledge that--directly or indirectly-- it is thanks to Him that we have clothes to cover our bodies and protect ourselves from the inclemencies of the weather.  Incidentally, this berakha also reminds us that we are commanded to imitate HaShem's actions, providing clothing and other basic needs to those who lack the means to take care of themselves. 

Are you interested in the debate (and the politics of) Evolution vs. Intelligent design?   

Ben Stein: "Expelled: no intelligence allowed"  

Watch the trailer here