It does seem frightfully unfair that one man’s single transgression should consign all humanity to death. But it is equally unfair that one man’s righteousness also offers all of humanity the reward of righteousness: “the right to the tree of life.” (Revelation 22:14)
From: “The Life-giving Spirit”
Parasha B’reisheet commentary
First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ)
After man ate from the Tree of Knowledge, however, he acquired the intimate knowledge of and desire for evil. The evil inclination was no longer an external force, represented by the Serpent. It was within. Our physical flesh was now a confused mixture of good and evil. Death was introduced into the world: human flesh, separated from the spirit, was a creature of the finite, physical realm — one which must ultimately decay and die. Man would now face a much greater challenge than before. He would no longer battle a Serpent from without. He would have to battle his own sluggish yet desirous flesh within.
Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld
The Primordial Sin, Part II
Pirkei Avos Chapter 6, Mishna 5(b)
This coming Saturday, we begin a completely new Torah cycle with Parasha B’reisheet and once again, we start by reading the first chapters of Genesis. Adam is coming, and I’m a little nervous. I know this may seem strange, since we are in the middle of Sukkot, a time of great joy, but it’s as if I am sitting in my sukkah, somehow looking at Creation from several moments before God said “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). Yet in that point of suspended time, I know everything that is going to happen after God speaks these words. It’s as if God has not yet created the universe and some part of me wants to stop Him. How can He create the Earth, Adam, Eve, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, even the serpent, knowing what I know; knowing about the fall? How can He create the universe knowing about all of the pain, anguish, and suffering that is going to happen as a result?
Do you doubt that God knew about what would happen once He started everything in motion? Don’t you realize that to be God, He must have known that Adam would disobey, give into temptation, and lead all of humanity down a dark and sinister road to the abyss?
God must have known, but He created us anyway. Still, waiting for next Shabbat to come is like waiting for it happen all over again, from moments before God brought all into being with His powerful Word, to forming the first man out of clay, breathing life into Him, splitting the man and making woman, placing them in the Garden, and then…and then…
I often despair at the state of the world. All I have to do is go online and start reading the news. I recently read a story on CNN about a toddler in China who was the victim of a hit-and-run accident. As bad as this is, what makes the story all the more horrible is that she was hit twice by two separate vehicles and neither driver stopped. Worse, numerous pedestrians walked right past her and did nothing. Finally, a “58-year-old scavenger named Chen Xianmei” stopped and pulled her out of the street. The CNN story states that the “grainy footage of the accidents went viral on Chinese Internet within minutes of posting”, and only then did anyone express “outrage”.
According to Rabbi Rosenfeld, as a result of what Christians call “the fall”, humanity is now is a state of confusion, trying desperately to tell the difference between good and evil and to understand what we are supposed to be doing about it. The Prophet Isaiah, in warning Israel, could also have been warning us:
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter. –Isaiah 5:20
It seems as if everything that God tells us is evil and wrong is touted by the world around us as right, positive, and desirable. In that sense, I feel very much a stranger in a strange land, an alien among humanity, a pariah standing against everything the world says is the right thing to do and being called cruel and bigoted because of it.
That’s why I want to stop God from creating the world. Because it will just start all over again and we’ll end up right back here, facing the same day, the same problems, the same moral confusion where right and wrong are literally turned inside out.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. –Romans 12:17-21
…so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. –Hebrews 9:28
I know, I know…he’s coming, too. Jesus, I mean.
The world is broken but not beyond repair. The principle of Tikkun Olam tells us that we are junior partners with God in the act of repairing the world. Of course, we all await the Messiah to come back and bring the job to its finale, restoring us to who and what we were before the serpent entered the Garden and in fact, restoring the Garden itself. I know. We will once again walk with God as Adam did and “each man will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and none will make him afraid” (Micah 4:4).
Maybe that’s why Sukkot is happening right now. In an imperfect world, where our shelters don’t have solid walls and the roof leaks, we are like people living in a sukkah depending on God to keep us fed, warm, dry, and safe.
Adam is coming and he’s about to fall. But Jesus is coming to help pick him back up. I’m trembling in fear as it’s about to happen all over again. I’m watching, I’m waiting. I’m praying.
Having discovered all your faults, you are depressed.
Imagine you have just found a doctor with a diagnosis that explains all your afflictions over the past many years. And he’s written a prescription directing you on a sure path to good health.
Shouldn’t you jump with joy and relief?
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
A few months back, I wrote a three-part series on the lessons we are about to learn once more in Genesis. This might be a good time to read them again: Part I: Overcoming Evil, Part II: The Primordial Serpent, and Part III: Healing the Wounded.