One Forbidden Tree

The story of Adam & Chava in Gan Eden comes first in the Torah because it is the story of us all.

the.guard Friday, 29 January 2016

Mankind has been placed in a literal “Gan Eden” today. Most of us have good wives, beautiful and healthy children, nachas, parnasa, and all the comforts and conveniences of the 21st century. We have bathrooms in our homes, hot and cold running water, heating and air-conditioning, and plenty to eat. For the majority of people today, obesity is more of a challenge than having enough food! Yet in midst of this veritable Gan Eden that we live in, there is one beautiful and seductive tree that has become bigger than ever in the 21st century, of which Hashem tells us:'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die.'

We also see from the words that the Torah uses, how the desire of the fruit was mainly in the eyes: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”

When Hashem asked Chava why she had eaten from the fruit, her answer was: “הַנָּחָשׁ הִשִּׁיאַנִי, וָאֹכֵל”. Chazal say that she used a lashon of “ishus” because the nachash had seduced her with carnal desires.

The story of Adam and Chava is talking to each and every one of us, especially us on GYE. We have been given so much blessing by Hashem; 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat’, but we find that we are still not happy and want the forbidden fruit!

So how can we ensure that we don’t fall for the cunning snake’s seductions? Firstly, we must make Gedarim for ourselves, as the Pasuk says: “And the woman said unto the serpent: 'Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said: You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” Chazal explain that even though Hashem had not forbidden touching it, Adam had instituted a fence and told Chava that even touching it was forbidden. It was only because she allowed herself to break this fence that she ended up falling all the way.

We must also not allow ourselves to gaze upon the forbidden fruit, for this was the very thing that brought Chava to their great downfall; “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes”…

By humbling ourselves and surrendering our selfish “right” to partake of the forbidden fruit, we thereby declare our gratefulness to Hashem for all the good He has given us by letting us partake of all the delicious fruit of all the other trees!

And by staying far away from the forbidden tree, we are fixing the sin of Adam and Chava and bringing the world closer to its final Tikkun in ways that possibly no other Mitzva can do!

On a similar note, it occurred to me what a big zechus it is that we have, those who struggle greatly with these desires. After all, we declare everyday “Hashem Echad” - that there is only one game in town: Hashem’s will. “And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart/s (as Chazal explain, with both your Yetzer Tov and Yetzer Hara) with all your soul and with all your possessions/midos”. How many people get a chance to really fulfill this central mitzvah and goal in a Jew’s life? Most of us enjoy our lives of Torah and Mitzvos. Today there is Kosher food in abundance, we have nachas from our children, Shabbos is a day off to spend with the family and get rest, etc. So where do we get a chance to really show Hashem (and ourselves) that this is all about HIM, not us; that we really LOVE HIM with all our hearts and all our beings? Who knows if we wouldn't live our whole lives as erliche Yidden and then come up to Shamayim after 120 and find that we did it all for ourselves, we didn’t really love Hashem at all!

Perhaps it is this one forbidden tree, whose fruits look so luscious and tempting, which the snake keeps trying to push us to gaze upon and partake of its fruits, yearning for the forbidden knowledge (as the Pasuk says ‘and Adam “knew” his wife’) that gives us a chance to show a little messiras nefesh for a change. Only when the desires feel really strong do we have a chance to show Hashem who we are really living for at the end of the day - for ourselves or for HIM?

Because if it’s all about me, then how can I give up the greatest pleasure - that which I yearn for so deeply, that which outweighs in my (warped) mind all other pleasures? But if we are striving to love Hashem, if we truly believe “Hashem Echad” – that it’s all about HIM, that there is only HIS will - then how fortunate are we to have a chance to show it – a real chance to give up something that ‘feels’ truly precious to us.

We all know the truth in our minds that it’s all hot air, but Hashem does a great chesed by fooling us into feeling a great “need” for these things. He does this so we can get the zechus/reward/chance of giving up something that really feels substantial (even though we know it really isn’t, as we all experienced so many times when we “gave in” in the past).

So from now on when we feel these desires tempting and beckoning us, instead of feeling resentful about it, let us THANK Hashem for fooling us into feeling these strong desires so that we have a chance to show Him our true direction in life. When we “feel like” we are giving up our deepest desires, it is an awesome chance that we - who struggle have, more than anyone else, to truly demonstrate and declare that our lives are really about HIM and not ourselves.


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