Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim

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Parshat Bereishis 5783
Rabbi Jablinowitz

We read in this week’s parsha that after Adam Harishon sins, he is banished from Gan Eden. The pasuk states (Chapter 3, Pasuk 23), וישלחהו ד' אלוקים מגן עדן לעבוד את האדמה; Hashem sent him out from Gan Eden to work the land. There are two things that need to be understood in this pasuk. Firstly, though it’s clear that Adam is sent out due to his sin, what is this task he is given of working? And further, he was already tasked with work when he was brought to Gan Eden, as the pasuk says (Chapter 2, Pasuk 15), וינחהו בגן עדן לעבדה ולשמרה. What is the difference between the work he did before, as opposed to the work he did after he was sent out?

The Targum Yonoson and Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer teach on our pasuk that when Adam Harishon was placed in Gan Eden his “work” was meant to be in Torah. Similarly, Chazal teach on the pasuk in Iyov (Chapter 5, Pasuk 7), אדם לעמל יולד; man was put into the world in order to toil. And the Gemara in Sanhedrin 89B learns that the toil referred to in the pasuk is to work hard in Torah. This working in Torah was also the appointed task of Adam in Gan Eden. The Tikunei Zohar teaches that when the Torah teaches us that Adam Harishon was placed in Gan Eden לעבדה ולשמרה, the word לעבדה refers to performing positive commands, and the word לשמרה refers to keeping the negative commands. All he needed to do was focus on Torah.

But then Adam ate from the Eitz Ha’Da’as. Instead of living in a world filled only with good and the purity of the Torah, Adam had to deal with a new reality of good and evil mixed together. As the pasuk says after he sinned, וישלחהו ד' אלוקים מגן עדן. He was sent away from his pristine life and now faced a life filled with temptation and desire. His new world was a confused mixture of good and evil.

The Sfas Emes learns from the word וישלחהו that though he failed in his original task, he was given a new task, a new שליחות, albeit a more difficult one. He still needed to learn and keep the Torah. But instead of לעבדה ולשמרה, an idyllic life focused exclusively on Torah, he was now tasked with לעבוד את האדמה. Now his Torah learning and observance had to be accomplished within the physical world of pleasure, את האדמה. He needed to purify himself and improve his character traits first in order to keep the Torah. The next pasuk says לשמור את דרך עץ החיים, and Chazal teach from here (Tana D’Bei Eliyahu, Chapter 1), that דרך ארץ comes before the עץ חיים, the Torah. Now one must purify his body and soul first in order to learn Torah.

This ongoing struggle of man of connecting to Torah and holiness in the physical world is expressed during the six days of creation. We read in each day ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר; each day begins with a darkness, with a mixture of good and evil. And our job is to find the light, to reach the morning of בוקר. The Maharal explains that the root ב,ק,ר means to distinguish and clarify. We need to find the holy and separate the good from the bad, and remove the bad. This is our task in life, and this is the דרך ארץ necessary to learn Torah. On Shabbos, however, which is a taste of the world to come, the Torah doesn’t say ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר. The light of Shabbos permeates throughout the day and we can learn on a level similar to Adam Harishon before the sin. As Medrash Rabbah teaches (16,5) on the words וינחהו בגן עדן, זו מנוחה של שבת.  

The Sfas Emes explains that Adam Harishon was well-suited for the task. Having spent some time, albeit short, in Gan Eden, he knew what he was looking for. He had a taste for the holiness of the Torah and he went about trying to access it in the challenging environment of this world. And we need to do the same thing. The Gemara in Nidah 30B teaches that we learn the entire Torah in utero and then we forgot it. This is because, though we don’t remember what we learned, the experience of the Torah is within us and we go through life trying to recreate it. And this is what Adam Harishon needed to do as well; return to the glory of his life in Gan Eden.

The Gemara in Kiddushin 2B teaches that the reason a man gives Kiddushin to a woman, and not the other way around, is because it is the nature of a man to go searching for a woman. This is because the one who lost an object searches after his lost item; similarly a man needs to search for “his rib” that he lost when Gd created a woman. I once heard from Rav Moshe Shapiro zt”l that the same thing is true of our Torah. We spend our lives looking for own lost object, the Torah that we learned in the purity of our mother’s womb, and try to retrieve it and relearn it in the physical world.  

Good Shabbos                                       


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