September 30, 2021 8:33 pm at 8:33 pm #2011100
Bereishis 3— The Slippery Slope of Sin
ויאמר האדם האשה אשר נתתה עמדי הוא נתנה לי מן העץ ואכל: ויאמר ה’ אלקים לאשה מה־זאת עשית ותאמר האשה הנחש השיאני ואכל
The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And Hashem G-d said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Bereishis 3:11-13).
The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 19:12) has a startling take on the grammar of the pasuk and the import of what Adam really said. When Hashem confronted Adam and he admitted to eating from the forbidden tree, he used the word, “Va’ocheil — And I ate.” According to the Midrash (see also Eitz Yosef on the Midrash), this word can also mean “And I will eat.” Adam was using both possible tenses: that he ate in the past, and he will eat in the future. In other words, while confessing to the fact that he had already eaten from the tree, Adam was also saying that he was not above eating from it again.
If Adam was admitting to his sin, why should we assume that he would be so audacious as to say to Hashem that he would do it again?
In his sefer Imrei Daas, Rav Aryeh Meir Siegel explains that Adam began his response by shifting the blame to his wife. Only after did he acknowledge that he ate. This was an instance of “Yes, but…” where one admits to wrongdoing, but does not take ownership of his misdeed. According to Rav Siegel, any time a person does not accept blame for an action, it is likely that the offense will be repeated. Since Adam immediately faulted Chavah for his sin, that was tantamount to him saying that, given the opportunity, he will most probably eat from the tree again.
Similarly, when Chavah was confronted by Hashem, she blamed the serpent for enticing her to eat from the tree. However, if we follow the lines of the verses, it seems that her reply does not really answer Hashem’s question. HaKadosh Baruch Hu spoke to Chavah after Adam faulted her for giving him of the fruit to eat. Accordingly, when Hashem asked her, “What is this that you have done?” He was referring to the fact that she gave her husband to eat from the forbidden tree. If so, her response should have also addressed the issue of feeding her husband, not only the fact that she herself ate.
Perhaps the theme discussed earlier is at play here, too. A person does not sin in a vacuum. Rather, the sin comes on the heels of a previous event; it is part of a downward trend. Just as after Adam admitted to eating from the tree, he blamed his wife and therefore showed no plans of changing, when Chavah ate and blamed the snake, it is obvious that her second sin (feeding her husband) was an extension of the first sin (eating from the tree). Included in eating was giving her husband to eat also.
Every cheit is indicative of a larger pattern, which will not stop on its own. In the absence of a plan to take ownership of one’s misdeeds and a resolution for change, one’s original misbehavior will fester and spin out of control. That is why the Midrash can predict that Adam will eat again. And that is how Chavah, while admitting that she ate from the tree yet blaming it on the snake, is also saying that she furthered her crime by feeding it to her husband, as well.
We can take this one step further. Later in Parashas Bereishis (4:7), when HaKadosh Baruch Hu confronted a dejected Kayin after his korban was not accepted, Hashem said: “Ha’lo im teitiv se’eis ve’im lo seitiv la’pesach chatas roveitz — Is it not true that if you do good, you will be forgiven? But if you do not do good, at the entrance sin crouches.”
Though Onkelos usually translates the pesukim literally, here he goes out of his way to tell us that in this dialogue, Hashem taught Kayin about teshuvah: “Surely, if you improve your conduct, it will be forgiven for you. But if you do not improve your conduct, then the sin shall remain intact until the day of judgment. You will be punished if you do not repent. Yet if you repent, you will be forgiven.” Which makes us wonder: Where does Onkelos come up with the notion of doing teshuvah within the translation of the pasuk?
Perhaps the pshat is that if a person does an aveirah and does not own up to it — which is what teshuvah is — then he is bound to repeat it. The translation of this pasuk, though it only mentions sinning or not sinning, incorporates within it the need to do teshuvah.
Stopping to sin does not only mean not doing the inappropriate action. Left alone and not countered, the sin will snowball and grow, bringing many more sins in its wake. Thus, while taking ownership of one’s deeds, one must also make a plan for the future.
Never truer were the words: Failure to plan is a plan for failure.October 1, 2021 8:43 am at 8:43 am #2011208
The Rambam paskens that chametz is assur less than a kezayis, an olive because of lo yeochel chametz. They ask why we need an extra pasuk and use like Rebbi Yochanan who forbids it all over from kol chelev. Answers the Noda Beyehudah that it is required for the last day of Pesach when chaze leitztarifa, being able to axxumulate by eating more does not apply. The Chasam Sofer, whose yahr tzeit happens to be today, says in Toras Moshe, that had Adam Harishan waited until shabbos of eating from the eitz hadaas, the forbidden fruit would have been allowed. Maybe the strength of shabbos would have swayed him towards the good. Similarly Adam Harishon ate it Friday at the end of the day, so if he ate more, he was allowed by justifying himself, I ate a small amount and will be allowed to eat more as it will not accumulate.October 1, 2021 8:44 am at 8:44 am #2011209
The Chasam Sofer in Toras Mishe explains Adam’s justification differently. The Midrash says that he drank grape juice. He was forbidden grapes but juice might be allowed. She was not commanded, so maybe she was allowed to eat the grapes and that is why she did not die but she also was part of him as the juice is part of the grqpes. So memanefshech, in either way he was allowed to eat. Why did she not die after eating? If she is part of him, she should have died and if she is not considered part of him, then I only drank grape juice which is not part of the grapes and therefore, in either way, I can contimue on eating.October 1, 2021 9:34 am at 9:34 am #2011226
The Mayanai Shel Torah explains that Adam justified his actions that he did not violate Hashem’s commandment from minos, non-belief but from taaveh, desire. For the former a small amount would have created the desired goal of yodea tov vera, to distinguish between good and bad (then justify the bad as good) but I am not satisfied with my eating as I desire to eat more, so I did not eat from minos.October 1, 2021 10:54 am at 10:54 am #2011292
abukspan, the Matanai Shel Torah summariaes the above from sefer Kol Simcha (I think Rav Simcha from Parshischa) where he asks, why wasn’t Chava satisfied with her eating without having him eat? He answers, once one sins, it encourages to sin more, even though she had no real enjoyment from it. Aveira gareres aveira, one aveira pulls one to perforn another aveira.October 1, 2021 11:44 am at 11:44 am #2011315
abukspan, as I reread your writing, I noticed that you alluded to the above Kol Simcha pshat but I lost the forest from the trees.October 1, 2021 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm #2011320
Thank you for all the CommentsOctober 1, 2021 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm #2011326
The serpent questions the emunah by insinuating that they will not die even though Hashem said they will. Rav Moshe ztz’l explains that when Moshe Rabbenu said that he cannot come and go, he did no mean that he may not but he cannot. The words of Hashem curtail him from doing it. Similarly he said that the Jews cannot climb the mountain because You, Hashem admonished us not to do it. Also, Hashem advises us to chose life and we should realize the consequences of not doing it. So the serpent questions the words of Hashem by saying they will not die and thereby creating a doubt in their beliefs.October 1, 2021 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm #2011330
The Mayanai Shel Torah mentions a Chidushei Harim that I believe the whole idea of tefila is based on. The serpent is cursed, dust you will eat, but dust is available everywhere? He answers, that Hashem said to him, here is your food and don’t bother me, I don’t want to hear from you again. We thank Hashem that He has not forsaken us and wants our prayers. We praise Hashem for the fact that we can praise him. Hilel thanked Hashem day by day.October 2, 2021 8:41 pm at 8:41 pm #2011533
When Kayin killed Hevel he said, gadol avoni minso, my sin is too great to take. We find this expression also in SA when one speaks in middle of davenen. Rashi explains in Shir Hashirim 4. beginning teimei fzeviiya, that we can read the luchas across. Anochi goes with lo sritzach. One who kills because he does not see the G-dly image, similarly one who speaks by davenen does not value the others
G-dly image.October 4, 2021 1:23 am at 1:23 am #2012009Always_Ask_QuestionsParticipant
To support the original post here, every person – Adam, Chava, Kayin – are punished not right after the son, but after a discussion. That is, something in each discussion – denial, shifting blame – is the immediate reason for the punishment. Kayin could have learned from the parents.October 4, 2021 8:13 am at 8:13 am #2012066
The Baal Akeida explains the statement הרהורי עבירה קשה מעבירה, rationalizing and explaining a sin such that it does not apply to me or what I did is not assur is worst than the sin as he will continue doing it, nassis lo kaheter.October 4, 2021 9:59 pm at 9:59 pm #2012290
AAQ, you may find this Seforno just in line with what you wrote.
In Parashas Behaaloscha, we read how Miriam spoke negatively to Aharon of Moshe’s separation from his wife. Hashem addressed Aharon and Miriam and faulted them for not appreciating that Moshe’s level of prophecy was far greater than that of any other navi, including them. The Torah then says (Bamidbar 12:9), “Vayichar af Hashem bam vayeilach – Hashem’s anger flared up against them, and He left.”
Usually, a person is first angry about a misdemeanor and then he criticizes the wrongdoer. Here, it is in the reverse. First the pasuk tells us that Hashem chastised Aharon and Miriam, and only then does it say that He was angry. The Seforno (ad loc.) explains that Hashem was angry at them after He criticized them, because they did not admit their sin immediately as David had done. We have no indication that Aharon and Miriam were contrite and humble after being rebuked. Accordingly, the anger was not for what they had done, but for what they had not done.
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