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Parshas Acharei-Mos - Kedoshim 5759

Outline Vol. 3, # 20

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

Aharon's sons died on the special, final day of inauguration. There are various explanations as to why they died, whether they had committed a crime or error, what the crime or error might have been. Regardless of the intent of their actions, perhaps they had not clearly thought about the full ramifications and consequences of their deed.

Mind and Will

The beginning of the Torah describes Adom and Chava, how they disobeyed the first commandment, ate from the forbidden fruit, and brought death to the world.

Rav Yosief Yuzel Hurwitz (the Alter of Navordock), discussed the story in the first chapter of Madreigas Ha'adom. How is it that Adom, the direct creation of Hashem, could disobey his creator?

According to the Rambam, eating the fruit was an error. Still, how did such a mistake come about? Since Adom was pure intellect, where was there room to err? If it was only a mistake, how could he have avoided the mistake?

Why did Chava listen to the snake? How could she have suggested a possibility that they would not die, when Hashem had said explicitly that they would definitely die?

There are two types of knowledge: A person can know something, without any longing or desire, or, the knowledge may entail a great desire. For example, we know that certain drugs cause pleasurable sensations. Let's say, inhaling opium. You are assured us that the pleasures which the drug evokes are beyond anything else in the world. Nonetheless, you do not have any temptation whatsoever to experience this drug -- because your awareness of the damage which will ensue is the kind of knowledge that you instinctively feel. This kind of knowledge does not allow you to indulge in the pleasure-causing drug. Your nature, which desires pleasurable things -- recognizes the inherent danger, and doesn't want to get involved.

On the other hand, we have knowledge of Torah expressions, such as "Lust, jealousy and honor remove a person from the world," yet we remain unaffected by this knowledge. This external knowledge is not the kind that deeply affects our nature; it remains an intellectual concept alone.

Before the encounter with the fruit, Adom was a pure intellect, free from external influence and natural inclination. His desire and nature were not able to turn his mind, nor darken his recognition and knowledge of good and evil. He knew about evil, but only performed good acts. His intellect was angelic, his body was only akin to a garment.

The only difference between Adom and the angel was in regard to choice. The angel cannot choose, because it is entirely good. Man was given the ability, however, to decide whether he would remain on the level of the angel, or, instead, obey his own instincts.

Adom's choice was not like ours. He didn't choose between good and evil, truth or falsehood, but between the life of an angel or the life of man. If he was to live as an angel, he would not be able to eat the forbidden fruit. His intellectual recognition would be so strong, that no will or instinct in the world would be able to affect him. If, however, he would choose to live a life of choice, to experience desires and temptations, to engage in the struggle between knowledge and will, in order to emerge victorious -- then he would have to partake of the fruit. If, in so doing, he would be victorious -- he would, indeed, be a greater person. According to the tzar -- pain and effort -- is the reward. He would again be given eternal life. If, however, after eating the fruit, he would lose the battle -- Adom would, of necessity, die. Naturally living entities do not live forever. Adom would become entirely natural, and would have to die a natural death.

It is possible that Hashem was not commanding Adom, but, rather, giving advice. "I advise you, do not partake of the fruit, so as not to arouse in yourself desire and nature. I know that if so aroused, you will not be able to overcome temptation, and you will have to die."

It is possible that the "death" would not be a punishment, but a simple consequence. If Adom were to eat from the fruit, he would be overpowered by nature; natural entities cannot live forever.

Chava mentioned only a possibility that they would die, because it was conceivable that they would not die. If only, after the eating, they would be able to overcome their nature -- eating the forbidden fruit would not be regarded as a sin. Rather, they would reach a higher level. Thus, the snake said: "You shall not die!" That is to say, "Don't doubt whether you will stand up to the test. Certainly you shall, `you will be like Hashem, knowing good and evil.' Hashem knows about good and evil, but remains unaffected by it -- you too, shall be unaffected by the knowledge."

If it had been as the snake put it, indeed, Adom and Chava would have come to a higher level. In this way, the snake tricked them, and was victorious. In the end, they did not raise themselves, by defeating their nature, but sank deeply into it. In the end they were ashamed. This was the indication that, in fact, they had actually fallen from their previous levels. If they had done nothing wrong, why would they be ashamed? (Madreigas Ha'adom, chapter 1)

The story of Adom and Chava, as presented here, is very telling. There is a discrepancy between Will and Intellect; most of the time, power belongs in the hands of Will. However, only when Will and Intellect act in perfect tandem, in complete harmony, will the Torah succeed. Only when we Want to do that which we Know we must do, will the goal of creation be realized.

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156

Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



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