From NISHMA JOURNAL no.IX

Tree of Knowledge

Part III

Rabbi Benjamin Hecht

The story of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is one of the most well-known Biblical narratives. Unfortunately, though, many individuals have developed numerous misconceptions regarding the events of this episode in history. Perhaps because of the influences of the outside Christian culture, the story, as described by many within the Jewish community, has been developed in a manner that does not follow classic, traditional Jewish thinking. The mistakes range from, seemingly, insignificant matters, such as the nature of the fruit ( it was not an apple - see T.B. Tractate Sanhedrin 70a,b) to the nature of Adam and Chava ( they were never fools - see Rashi, Bereishit 2:18-21; Moreh Nevuchim, part 1, chapter 2 ). The problem is that these fallacies can lead to philosophical conclusions that do not reflect Jewish values.

Rabbi Benjamin Hecht, in this article, develops a philosophical understanding of the episode of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil based on Jewish sources. While his conclusions are original, they are developed from traditional sources. His objective is twofold: 1) to share his understanding of this important event and its effect on Jewish thought; 2) regardless of whether the reader agrees or disagrees with these conclusions, to clearly demonstrate the uniqueness of the Jewish approach to the story and that the hashkafa of Torah must always be perceived within its own distinctive parameters.

Rabbi Hecht is the Founding Director of NISHMA.

IN PART I, WE ESTABLISHED THAT THE STORY of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was actually part of the greater narrative of Bereishit 2:4 - 3:21. An analysis of the story of the Tree, as such, must include an investigation of this entire section of the Torah.

In Part II, we began this investigation by looking at the first verse of this section. We determined that this portion of the Torah is not simply a further portrait of creation but, rather, is the description of the conception and definition of a very specific part of creation -

that of the moral universe. It is within these verses that we are to find the purpose of man - how G-d left potential in His creation for man to affect creation, thereby to perfect the world and, specifically, himself.

THE LAST VERSES

Our analysis will continue by looking at the last verses of this portion.

Katnot Or

The last verse of this section informs us that Hashem clothed Adam and Chava. This verse, and the one which names Chava, seem, on the surface, to be simply the tying together of some loose ends. On closer examination, however, this appears not to be the case. A review of the section will show that the behaviour of man (Adam and Chava), in this portion of the Torah, revolves around these two areas - the naming of beings and the concept of 'nakedness'. The concluding statement in regard to these matters must be of significance.

In Part I, we saw that G-d's first task for Adam was to name the animals. It was while performing this function that Adam recognized his lack of a mate leading to the creation of Chava. This, in turn, led to the statement that they were arum (for which we still must find the correct translation), which led to the discussion of the eitz hada'at tov v'ra. With the last verse of the narrative, the Torah is concluding the theme of 'nakedness' by informing us that G-d gave them clothes.

Applying this, it would seem that the clothing of Adam and Chava was not simply in response to their eating of the fruit of the Tree but also is connected to the original statement that they were arum (Bereishit 2:25). In other words, the statement that Adam and Chava were arum leads into the story of the Tree which describes how Adam and Chava were eventually clothed in response to their original state of 'nakedness'. See Rashi, Bereishit 3:1. There seems to be the implication that their state of being arum was a situation in need of a response. Is this last verse, therefore, the statement of solution?

It is also most interesting to note that Adam and Chava were already clothed when Hashem gave them and clothed them in these katnot or. in Bereishit 3:7, Adam and Chava themselves responded to their knowledge of being arum by sewing together fig leaves. Why did Hashem give them these new clothes?

The simple translation of katnot or is coats of skin, implying fur or leather. The commentators, however, do not present this translation. Rashi on the verse presents two definitions of katnot or. "There are views in the Aggadah stating that they were smooth as fingernails attached to the skin; and there are others who state that they were something derived from the skin like rabbit wool which is soft and warm..." In T.B. Sotah 14a, we find "Rav and Shmuel, one says something derived from skin and the other says something from which the skin gains pleasure". Rashi on this section of the Talmud states that the former is wool and the latter is linen. In Tosfot, Niddah 25a there is even the concept that this verse is simply referring to man's skin. In a global sense, what are the commentators trying to teach us?

Our question is not why the commentators cannot accept the simple translation of fur. For approaches to that question, see Torah Temima, Bereishit 3:21, note 31. Rather, what is the significance of the translations which are presented. It would seem that the target issue is whether the term or, skin, refers to the source of the clothing or the relationship the clothing has to man's skin. What is the essence of this issue? It would seem, especially when considering that Adam and Chava already had clothes, that the issue here goes beyond a present of simply something to wear.

Malbim, in approaching this subject, states that Hashem gave man the ability to make these clothes, namely this indicates the beginning of trade and professions. In referring to clothes derived from skins, the Torah is presenting to us the new world order. Man would have to create, make from one item another, in order to survive. As a result of the episode of the Tree, man would have to build civilizations. This seems to coincide exactly with Abarbanel's perception of the story. ( See Nehama Leibowitz's Studies in Bereshit, Bereshit, chapter 3. ) As a result of the episode of the Tree, man would have to deal with political and social existence; G-d, in his mercy, therefore gave man the ability to survive.

According to the Abarbanel, however, the building of society is a lowly task for man, not part of Hashem's original intention. Applying, however, the more normative view of Ramban, Bereishit 1:28, that man was originally intended to build civilization, we are left with a most interesting perception. If G-d's plan was for man to build society and if man became a builder of political structures only subsequent to the episode of the Tree, than the episode of the Tree would seem to have been necessary. The Tanhuma, quoted by E. Urbach in The Sages, that we referred to in footnote 9 of Part I, would seem to support a concept that the episode of the Tree was all part of the Divine Plan[1]. Further support can be offered from T.B. Niddah 25a, which implies that the giving of the katnot or was the final act of creation.[2] Yet, is it truly possible to say that this act of disobedience was required, even mandated? What are the forces at work in this transition?

Man was arum and did not know it. Was this the weakness that prevented man from being a creator, an elokim? The key may be in attempting to understand the word arum. We must also analyze the other views of katnot or, referring to clothing that have some connection to man's skin. Before proceeding on these paths, however, it may be important to look at the concept of naming.

The Importance of a Name

The second last verse, telling us of the naming of Chava, concludes the Divine task given to Adam in Bereishit 2:19 to name the animals. The story of the Tree, it would seem was an interruption and now we are to return to the first issue. The question, though, is how are we to look at this interruption - why could this verse not be placed before the story of the Tree? Gur Aryeh seems to answer this question functionally - considering the development of the story, this verse just could not be placed before this point. Malbim, however, introduces a new concept - the name of Chava was only applicable subsequent to the story of the Tree.

The question arises: is the naming of Chava simply, again, the tying together of loose ends, or is it an important concluding statement on this entire episode, tying together the many sub-plots into a complete picture of man's moral task? I lean towards the latter.

The first task G-d gave to man was to name the animals. Within Jewish thought, the name of someone is most significant.[3] It is not surprising that we refer to G-d as Hashem, The Name. Someone's name reflects their essence. In naming the animals, Adam was declaring what he perceived as their uniqueness in character. Whether this included the subjective,[4] or approached the objective perception of the being[5], this was a great talent that Adam possessed. Even before the episode of the Tree, he was able to see the singular essential of someone's being. Yet, he named Chava subsequent to the event of the Tree.

Malbim and Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, both imply that Chava's nature, or more correctly, Adam's perception of Chava, changed subsequent to the story of the Tree. This name could only be given at this moment. Especially in the language of the former, this would not have been Chava's name if there was no event by the Tree. Yet, there is another possibility. Perhaps Chava's name follows because prior to the Tree, Adam, unlike he did with the animals, was unable to find a name for his new mate.

Rashi, Bereishit 2:19 states that the names of the animals would be their names forever. He named the species. With Chava, we do not find the naming of the species (i.e. woman) but rather the naming of this one individual. Yet, the naming of Chava is considered to be a continuation of the naming of the species. Are we to infer that each human being is unique unto him/herself and, thus deserving, a distinctive name? We can group horses as horses but we cannot group humans for each one, it would seem, is a unique essence[6]. The same talent that Adam used in naming the animals was applied in naming this one human being, Chava, and the name would be only for her. Could Adam have seen this before?

Chava's name is most interesting. She is the mother of all living, hj kf ot. There is some contention on the meaning of the word hj, chai, living. The simple approach is that this term is referring to human beings - she is the mother of humanity. In T.B. Ketuvot 61a, however, a drasha is presented indicating that this word informs us that Adam is declaring "she was given for life and not for pain."[7] The Torah Temima states that the Talmud had to develop a drasha because the simple language of the verse is problematic. It implies all living - including the animals. Chava was only the mother of humans, what does the verse mean in declaring that she was the mother of all?

Using the concepts developed by Malbim, Bereishit 2:19, we may wish to develop a new understanding of Chava's name. Malbim states that Adam named the animals by identifying the single character trait that was dominant in each animal. While man is a collection of various middot, traits, each animal has one that is singularly attached to it, that is identified with the animal. This is why Pirkei Avot 5:23 tells us to be strong like the leopard - the leopard and strength are synonymous. Man, however, is multi-dimensional, a force that must combine all these traits inherently found within. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch states: "he named his wife 'the life-giver'...not only for the physical bodily continuance of the race, but also for the spiritual and intellectual perpetuation of the higher calling of mankind."[8] Could we say that it is Chava who is the giving life-force of all the traits identified with the animal world, bringing them into the world of man?

Adam is able to see an essence, the simple, singular concept that defines someone. Chava is named for being the mother of all living - the initiator of the complex, multi-faceted spectrum of character traits. Are we being introduced to the tension that arises between the essence of self, unique in every human, and the multitude of drives and emotions that also are part of this self?

ARUM

The key word is arum. "They were both arumim, Adam and his wife, and they were not embarrassed." (Bereishit 2:25) Arum, in this context, is usually translated as naked. "And the snake was more arum than all the animals of the field..." (Bereishit 3:1) In this case, arum is usually translated as cunning. These two verses are beside each other. They both use the word arum, which cannot be by coincidence. What is this word arum that can be translated as both naked and cunning?

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch[9] has great difficulty with this. He presents the possibility that the word in each sentence may arise from different roots - and therefore these words, while exactly the same, are not connected. This approach, however, seems most problematic. The Torah uses the exact same descriptive word in two sentences next to each other - are we to say there is no connection? Yet how are these words, used in such different connections,

related?

The answer, strangely, may be found in Rabbi Hirsch's own words. In explaining the root for ourg when it means naked, he states:

"The root, accordingly could be rug, and we would have rug naked, awake, and skin, with the underlying conception of being sensitive to external impression. The deeper the sleep, the less do external impressions reach us. When we awake we begin to take notice. Now the most general recipient of sensation is the skin, the organ of the sense of touch. The man who is consigned really to his sense of touch, who can get impressions of visible things only through his sense of touch is called rug, 'a skin man', blind".

Adam and Chava were sensitive to impression. Could we use the term emotional, open to drives and feelings? We can apply this to the snake. The snake was cunning, but it was also driven by its desires.[10] In fact, the two are related. The most ourg - the most craving with the most cunning to achieve this end.

In Bereishit 2:25, we are told that Adam and Chava were ohnurg, but they were not embarrassed. In Bereishit 3:11, Hashem asks Adam, after he ate from the Tree, how he knew that he was orhg. While this word includes the meaning naked, it must mean more than simply physically unclothed. Applying the above reasoning, Adam was stating that he was now feeling his drives and he was also now feeling the impressions of the world around him. Before he was created with many drives; he was multi-dimensional, but he did not know this multitude. After, he felt feelings of these various pulls. Like a blind man who gains sight, he was overtaken by the spectrum of the outside world. He felt the myriad of drives but he lost contact with his singular essence.

Nehama Leibowitz quotes the following from Rabbeinu Bachya:[11]

"The tree of knowledge endowed those who ate of its fruit with desire and choice. This emerges from the use of the Hebrew da'at to describe it. In the Talmud the word is used in the sense of 'opinion' and 'free choice' and in Psalms the phrase: 'What is man that Thou art mindful of him' (va-teda'ehu) implies: Thou dost desire him. In other words, the tree of knowledge is really the tree of free will. The Almighty forbade it to man since the latter was destined before the sin, to act like an angel, patterned to be rational in all his ways. But after the sin he achieved free will and choice and became conscious of his bodily desires. This constitutes a Divine and good quality, in one way, but evil in another."

Man, before the Tree, was rational. Rambam[12] describes this by stating that man, at this stage, rendered decisions (regarding his behaviour) as true or false, not good or bad. What does this mean? True or false are responses to the world around us. It is true that apples are nutritious, that the earth is the third planet from the sun, that cyanide is poison. We do not say, however, that it is true that I should eat apples because they are nutritious. We state that it is good - that my response to the world around me is positive. What does it mean, when Rambam states that before the Tree, the response could be classified as true?

The answer may lie in the recognition that every decision that we make involves two factors: the analysis of the situation and the analysis of oneself. Prior to the Tree, Adam did not have to analyze himself. He did not have to determine which of his drives or interests should have precedence. Just like the angels, he was programmed to be Adam. He, simply, had to render the correct decision in regard to the environment. After the Tree, however, he was in disarray. The essence of Adam was now seen through the spectrum of his many drives, his many parts. How was he to render a decision for his essence when his essence, in parts, fought within itself?

TOV AND RA

Adam before the Tree was a singular essence, programmed from G-d, who made decisions simply in line with this essence. This essential being, however, was also inherently multi-dimensional, with the potential to be dragged by the realities sensed from the world around and the many, potentially conflicting drives from within. This explosion of emotion occurred at the Tree. Adam felt the pulls from without and the pulls from within. Where was that simple singular essence that clearly set his path from before? It was decimated into a thousand pieces, each pulling for itself. This is ra. The forces of man acting each for itself, not in unison, not in contemplation of the whole. This can only lead to destruction.

Adam and Chava were overtaken by this burst of intensity splitting them from within. They wished to return to their simple selves of before. They wished to suppress these emotions, to cover these drives, to hide from the pulls of their new existence. This was their first attempt to clothe themselves - an attempt to destroy the change that they brought upon themselves, to return to what was. This could not be, for inherent in their essence was also a change.

The Tree was the Tree of Knowledge of Tov and Ra. Adam and Chava did not just gain a perception of ra, but also began to understand the meaning of tov.

Maharal, Chiddushei Aggadot, T.B. Yevamot 62b, on the assertion that without a wife a man rests without tov, states the following:

"...and without tova, for division cannot be declared as tov, but union and connection is tov in its essence, and through this we may understand that it was because of the division that occurred on the second day of the world's creation, the declaration "that it was tov [13]was not stated [on this day], therefore the [union] of male and female, for which it states that they will be as one flesh, this is tov."

Yet, when Adam was one being it was not considered to be tov [14]. Only after Adam and Chava were separated[15], was the potential union so considered. Why?

Hashem is Oneness in Simplicity. He is also All-Powerful, able to act in every way. Man cannot understand the Oneness of G-d especially the Simplicity of Oneness, because at the very same time that we declare His Perfect Simplicity, we wonder at the multifaceted ability and complexity. From the smallest part of the atom to the largest of stars, from one human personality to another, all created by the Oneness, the Perfect Simplicity of Essence of Hashem. This is tov in its highest sense.

Applying this lofty concept in the realm of Man, something can only be considered tov when it is the fusion of parts. Stated differently but perhaps more favourably, a simplicity that does not reflect a multiplicity is not tov. Only when Adam and Chava were separated and the dimensions of each in themselves were asserted, could we declare the dimension of their potential union tov. We could use the nature of white light as an example. Through the prism, this unity is seen as a spectrum of colour. It is in the combination of the diverse into a unified essence that we find greatness.

The simple essences Adam and Chava possessed before the Tree did not know about their multi-dimensional nature. It was as a solitary colour reflecting only its singular being. It did not have to unify, to control; it simply was. Adam and Chava looked outwards to the environment of 'true and false'; a decision of self was not necessary.

After the Tree, they heard the many voices of their essence, each crying for itself. They had to look inward, to arbitrate between the many desires of the self. They had to find this new singular essence that could decide what was best for the unified self, the new force of simplicity in self that would control and direct the pieces of multiplicity. Adam and Chava, fortunately, also gained knowledge of tov. As the multi-dimensional personality of their essential self was now revealed to them, so was its unifying nature and power.

ADAM AND CHAVA'S DILEMMA

Why did G-d not allow Adam and Chava to eat from the Tree and thereby gain this knowledge of tov v'ra? By gaining this new wisdom, didn't Adam and Chava actually benefit from their disobedience to G-d ? There are commentaries, led by Rambam[16], that clearly declare that the perception of tov and ra is not a higher knowledge but a lower one. The change, having now to respond to oneself as well as the world around, reflected a drop in the stature of man[17]. The snake lied in declaring that they would now be as elokim. In refraining from the Tree, Adam and Chava would have maintained their exalted status and earned olam habah. They only lost in partaking of the fruit of tov and ra. This approach, however, would not fully share the explanation of tov and ra that was presented above.

There are others, however, as evidenced by the words of Rabbeinu Bachya above, that do perceive a positive in this event[18]. As the Tanchuma implies, this was destined - part of G-d's plan. That it occurred during the week of creation seems to further support such an assertion. The snake, although with malicious intent, was telling the truth in stating that they would become "creators of worlds"[19]. G-d, Himself, declares, after the Tree, "man is like one of us knowledgeable of tov and ra [20]. Yet, if there was a positive side to this event, how does one respond to the powerful questions presented in the above paragraph?

Ntziv describes the transition of Adam and Chava as follows:

"until this point, he did not have human and natural intellect but rather because he was davuk [attached] to G-d he comprehended all through ruach hakodesh [heavenly inspiration] but he did not have human wisdom...[after the event] added to them was the human intellect and nature without attachment, for from that moment was lost attachment to G-d and he was made like one of us except that he was a great thinker...he was not attached anymore [to G-d] in the manner that He would supervise man at all, rather [man] is like one of us knowledgeable of tov and ra for himself[21]".

The issue is where should the will of man reside. As a servant of G-d, it is The Master Who should command the will of the servant, G-d who should determine the will of man. Adam's essence was created by G-d, reflecting His Will. This was simply Adam before the Tree.

Yet the matter was not so simple. Unlike any other being, Adam was a union of two divergent parts[22]. Adam was also tzelem elokim, a being who was to be like G-d. Just like Hashem acts based on His Own Will, it was of the essence of man to act of his own will. How was this possible - to act based on the Will of G-d as well as act based on the decision of one's own will?

This was the dilemma that Adam and Chava faced and of which the snake took advantage. The commentators are bothered about how it was possible for Adam and Chava to have transgressed G-d's word if they were lacking ra and free choice. They were rational, needing only to determine truth and falsehood - yet at the Tree they met their Waterloo, the paradox of their very existence. One part of their essence declared they were subjects of G-d, to follow His Will. One part of their essence, created by G-d, was that they were to be like G-d, determining their own will. It was His Will that they make their own decisions yet it was also His Will that they follow the decisions of G-d. And nowhere was this paradox more confusing then at the Tree, where G-d was telling these beings, created to make decisions, not to develop their ability to make decisions.

Adam and Chava knew that their state before the Tree was unacceptable, not their final destiny. How, though, do they solve the paradox, unite the decision-making of their wills with the decision-making of The Will of G-d? It was in how they responded to the Tree that they would find their answer, yet, on the surface, it was only a continuation of the dilemma. To not eat would mean to follow Hashem, but where was their own will? What about their own decision? To eat would mean to follow themselves, but where was The Will of G-d? What about His decision? What to do? How to answer the paradox, solve the riddle and reach the essence beyond?

The essence of Adam before the Tree had to change and, in truth, either decision was a path to the new level of man. If Adam and Chava would have followed the word of G-d, they would have achieved olam habah immediately. Their decision to follow G-d would have provided a point of integration[23]. They chose, however, the other way[24].

It was not that Adam and Chava benefitted from their transgression. It was not that G-d held back this special knowledge of tov and ra. The situation as it was, was not permanent. On this sixth day of creation, Adam and Chava would act, either in refraining from the Tree or partaking, thereby culminating the creation specifically of the moral universe. Whatever act was chosen would catapult man into the path whereby s/he would complete him/herself. This was part of creation. This path chosen would introduce the qualities necessary for the needed growth. Adam and Chava, perhaps unfortunately[25], chose the more difficult path.

CONCLUSION

We now can understand the concluding verses of the section. Adam could only name Chava after the event for it was only then that he could fully understand the multi-dimensional side of her essence

G-d gave man new clothes that reflected his new task. In man's relationship with the world, in his creation of a new world order, man was to find his own essence. This connects to the new sufferings placed on Adam and Chava. This was one aspect of the term or.

On the other hand, the term or reflects the very axiom on which all is dependant. Man must control his drives; the self-serving parts, each pulling for itself, must act subject to the unifying essence of the self. How? Our drives, feelings, sensitivities are necessary, yet so dangerous. The answer lies in this clothing beneficial to the skin - a clothing that protects yet allows for the emotions, a force that allows for the spectrum of feeling and being under the unification of the simple self.

STUDY TOPICS

1) Yetzer Harah - Rabbi Hecht presents an innovative definition for yetzer harah. In his article, Tshuvah, Rabbi Yaakov Feldman presents another attempt to define this elusive entity. The difficulty arises from the many positive references regarding the yetzer harah. It is necessary for the world to exist (T.B. Yoma 69b). It is called tov m'od (Bereishit Rabbah 9:7). We are even called upon to love and serve G-d through it (Mishneh Berachot 9:5). Can we define it simply as the drive to do evil? (What is evil?) Why does this drive grow stronger with a person's ascent in Torah (T.B. Sukkah 52a)? Is the benefit of the yetzer harah in its defeat? See Da'at Tevunot. For further sources, see The Sages 15:6.

2) Studying the Sections of Torah - How you punctuate a sentence can change its meaning drastically. The same is true with how you 'punctuate' the Torah, how you divide the text into sections. The Christian division into chapters reflects the perceptions of this religion,which are not necessarily the views of Judaism. Considering the Christian rejection of Torah She'b'aal Peh, the Oral Law, the entire outlook of the two religions towards the text could be radically different. Rabbi Hecht argues that this is true in regard to the story of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. His development of the story, as such, relies heavily on the depiction of the section through the vision of the classical Jewish marks of text separation. It may be interesting to see if this analysis would yield similar conclusions in regard to other sections. While it may not reveal dramatic misconceptions through outside influences, you may find important new insights into the text. In addition to this story in Bereishit, another interesting starting point may be the beginning of Shemot and what the divisions of the Torah inform us of the events in Egypt. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's The Living Torah may be of excellent assistance for Rabbi Kaplan in this work used the classic Jewish divisions, although he did not distinguish between the setuma and the petucha.

NISHMA JOURNAL articles broadly cover the complete spectrum of Torah study - from Halacha to Tanach, from Gemara to Hashkafa, from Rationalism to Mysticism. Their objective is not only to increase Torah knowledge, but to encourage us to think about Torah issues and to draw us into the Torah discussion.

Suggested Study Topics follow each article, providing issues and questions intended to spark further intense Torah investigation and discussion.

ENDNOTES

[1]E.E. Urbach, in his famous work, The Sages, at pp 278-279:

"In Tanhuma the following daring homily is cited: 'Come and see, when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, He created the angel of death already on the first day. Whence do we know this? Said R. Berechiah: Because Scripture states "And darkness was upon the face of the deep" (Genesis i 2) - this means the angel of death, who darkens the face of mankind; whereas man was created on the sixth day, yet he was blamed for having brought death into the world, as it is said "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (ibid ii 17). To what can the matter be compared? To a man who wished to divorce his wife. When he decided to go home, he wrote a bill of divorcement; then he entered his house, with the divorce in his possession, seeking a pretext for giving it to her. He said to her: "Mix me a cup (of wine) to drink." She mixed his cup. When he took the cup from her hand, he said to her: "Here is your divorce". Said she to him: "What sin have I committed?" He replied: "Go from my house, for you have mixed me a lukewarm cup (of wine)". She retorted: "You already knew beforehand that I should mix you a tepid cup (of wine), for you wrote the divorce and brought it with you!" Even so did Adam argue before the Holy One, blessed be He: "Sovereign of the universe, two thousand years before Thou didst create Thy world, the Torah was by Thee as an iunt, amon [variously rendered: 'nursling' or 'master-workman'] (Proverbs viii 30), and in it is written 'This is the law: when a man dieth in a tent' (Numbers xix 14); if Thou hadst not prepared death for mankind, wouldst Thou have written thus? Only Thou hast come to put the blame on me; this is the meaning of the verse 'He is terrible in His doing toward the children of men' (Psalms lxvi 5)"' The passage merely states that man's sin did not cause death to come into the world; the decree of death would have existed even without him, and man's act served only as an instrument for implementing it."

[2]"...this teaches that G-d does not make skin for man unless man is already formed."

[3]See, for example, T.B. Berachot 7b.

[4]See Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's Commentary to Bereishit 2:19.

[5]See Rabbeinu Bachya, Bereishit 2:19.

[6]See also Mishneh Sanhedrin 4:5.

[7]In that Adam said this subsequent to the Tree, this statement could also serve as a further indication of some beneficial consequence as a result of this episode. It would seem also to be a clear indication, as presented in various commentators, that this name demonstrated a positive feeling between Adam and Chava. See, however, Maharsha, who explains why this name was only applicable after the negative consequences of the Tree.

[8]Commentary to Bereishit 3:20.

[9]Commentary to Bereishit 2:25

[10]See Rashi, Bereishit 3:1. The snake desired Chava and acted upon it. Our approach also adds to the further understanding of Rashi and his explanation of the connection between the two verses.

[11] Studies in Bereshit, Bereshit, chapter 3, page 25.

[12]Moreh Nevuchim 1:2.

[13] Maharal is referring to the fact that on the second day the 'waters' were separated. This separation, division, cannot, by definition, be declared tov. See also Rashi, Bereishit 1:7 who presents a different idea which under further investigation is really very similar. An incomplete work cannot be declared as tov. This would seem to further support an idea of tov as reflecting union, totality, completeness.

[14]Bereishit 2:18

[15]See T.B. Berachot 61a. "Rabbi Yirmeyahu ben Rabbi Elazar said: G-d created Adam with two faces." The implication is that the Adam before the creation of Chava was a union of the being of Adam and Chava.

[16]Moreh Nevuchim 1:2

[17]See R. Yehuda Nachshuni's Hagot B'Parshiot HaTorah, Bereishit, Section d where he clearly defines the words of Rambam in terms of objective and subjective. It would seem that the issue is not exactly what occurred, for many see the event in similar ways. The issue is whether this change was totally negative, as Rambam would argue, or whether there was a positive side to the new being of Adam and Chava.

[18]One Rosh Yeshiva once told me that, obviously, Adam and Chava would have had to eat from the Tree for it was necessary for them to have this gift of wisdom. The issue was that Hashem wanted them to wait.

[19]Rashi, Bereishit 3:5. We may wish to apply Mishneh Sanhedrin 4:5 which compares each individual to a world. In creating ourselves, we are creating worlds.

[20] Bereishit 3:22.

[21]Haemek Davar, Bereishit 2:6; 2:7; 3:22 .

[22]See also Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik's "Lonely Man of Faith", Tradition 7:2 for a different approach to this dichotomy of man. I believe that the thoughts presented in this article are inherently reconcilable with the words of the Rav.

[23]The concept that they were "naked in mitzvot", Bereishit Rabbah 19:6, may take on new meaning with this approach. It was this one mitzvah that would have solved the dilemma.

[24]Applying the Tanhuma, which implies that it was set-up for man to transgress, it would seem that this was the only way for man to move beyond the stage of before the Tree. For reasons that we will not investigate at this time, this was the method by which G-d created this aspect of creation. How, though, do we explain the act of disobedience? There is always the question of how to reconcile that all is performed through the Will of G-d, yet we have free choice even, unfortunately to do evil. Yet, in this case, this event may be less of a paradox since it occurred during the week of creation. Since this event shaped the very nature of free choice and reward and punishment, the greater direction by G-d over the actions of man may be accepted. Strangely, though, what is being said is that through an act which G-d knew man would, by nature, have to perform yet that G-d did forbid, the stage of the moral universe was created. This law that it was impossible for man to follow, a most unique creation, is the Tanhuma's explanation for the creation of this unique world where man can reach his unique goals - a most interesting concept that you are invited to further investigate. The approach in the body of the article - that man had a choice and made a mistake - is, however, more normative.

[25]The Talmudic statement that "the place where the repentant stand even the fully righteous cannot stand" (T.B. Berachot 34b) would be a matter to contemplate at this time. Could we argue that eventually when man is successful in his goal along this path, he will achieve a level that he could not reach if he did not make this mistake by the Tree? Is this part of the reasoning of the Tanhuma.


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2002 NISHMA