July 30, 2020

Rabbi Ben Spratt on Genesis 3:24 -- "A Surprising Stroll Through the Garden of Eden"

On today’s episode, our Rabbi’s husband is joined by his great friend, and a Cantor’s husband, Rabbi Ben Spratt. Rabbi Spratt spent his early years exploring his Jewish identity, journeying through the many worlds of Judaism before finding a home within the Reform movement, and in 2008, he was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he was the recipient of many awards and prizes. Currently, he is the beloved Senior Associate Rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom and the Rabbi-in-Residence of Rodeph Sholom School. Rabbi Spratt has chosen Genesis 3:24 to discuss with Mark.

He begins the discussion by sharing his Jewish journey, precisely what interests him about the Garden of Eden, and both the conventional reading of today’s passage as well as a more radical reading of it. He and Mark then explore the side of God that tests us, the significance of choosing knowledge over immortality, and Judaism’s perspective on living forever. Rabbi Spratt then describes his approach to supporting those who are dealing with death, and reveals what he feels is the path to knowledge, connection, and relationship, as well as the lessons he has learned about mankind. Today’s enlightening conversation offers you the opportunity to go beyond the conventional and expand your understanding of this magnificent text with two passionate and insightful seekers of biblical truth.

Episode Highlights:

  1. Rabbi Spratt’s Jewish journey
  2. What interests Rabbi Ben about the Garden of Eden
  3. The conventional reading of this story
  4. A more radical reading of it
  5. The side of God that tests us
  6. The significance of choosing knowledge over immortality
  7. Judaism’s perspective on living forever
  8. Rabbi Spratt’s approach to supporting those dealing with death
  9. The path to knowledge, connection and relationship
  10. The lessons about mankind that Rabbi Ben has learned


“God expelling them from the Garden of Eden actually sets up the idea that the only aspect, perhaps, that distinguishes us from God is that we are mortal. And that I think is a very radical read.”

“Maybe this is the very path of what Torah is all about - that part of what we’re called to do is to bring that innate curiosity, the inquisitive spirit that makes us want to plumb the depths…the divine aspect of us which is reaching for more and more knowledge.”

“In the Jewish imagination…our origin story is one where we’re reaching actually for knowledge instead of immortality.”

“You live forever through the deeds that you do in this chronologically finite life.”

“I believe that we are all wired just to be boundary crossers…our heroes are always the boundary crossers.”

“Our most fundamental need is connectedness.”

Genesis 3:24 He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life. https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.3.24?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en


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