Insight on the Weekly Torah Reading: Bereshit

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Adam, the first man

By Avi Lazerson

This week’s parsha is Berashit, the first one of the book of Genesis. We start with the creation of the world, mankind and the eventual banishment of man from the Garden of Eden Mankind is punished through the sin of Adam and Eve. What needs clarification here is how could Adam have eaten from the forbidden tree and cause death to come to the world?

We know that Adam was created more or less as a spiritual being in a physical body. The evil inclination was outside of him. What this means is that Adam could look into the world and see what was good and bad. In other words, if Adam was walking in the forest and saw a deep pit, he did not have to experience falling into it to know that it was dangerous. He understood from the outside that it was dangerous. After he ate from the forbidden fruit, this inclination became inside of him instead of being outside of him, making decision making more difficult. He now had to utilize a much higher level of free choice to know if he was making the correct desicion.

How could Adam make such a fatal mistake? Did he think that he knew more than God!

Adam figured that if this inclination was part of him on the inside, he would be able to reach a higher level of spiritual purification when he chose good.

These inclinations that we possess try and work very hard to constantly challenge our instincts and desires. Our whole lives depend upon how we use these challenges and what greatness we have the ability to reach.

On one hand, Adam is right. These challenges allow us to reach levels that may not have been possible had the world been set up the other way. On the other hand, God had a purpose for not wanting the evil inclination to become a part of us. For one thing, it could overpower us and totally annhialate what our true purpose is in this world and could make sure we never see it. We see that our ancestors, Noach, Abraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov and many others did things in their lives in order to try and fix the damage that Adam caused. The more mitzvot we do and the nicer we are to our fellow man allows us to make little fixings in a broken world that will bring us back to the world that was before the sin of Adam and Eve!!

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!

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