begins with creation and the story of mankind. From the start, man's story
describes error and downfall. He is commanded not to eat of the forbidden
fruit, but he does eat. His life is suddenly changed; his eyes are "opened"
-- opened to profit and gain, desire and lust.
At the end of
chapter two, the Torah states that the man and his wife were naked but unashamed.
In verse seven of chapter three -- after eating the fruit -- it states that
their eyes were opened, they perceived that they were naked, and clothed
The actual context
of these verses is a debate. Maharal (Ba'er Hagolah, Ba'er 5, see Peirushei
Maharal al Hatorah) refers to various commentaries who explain that man's
physical nature is in itself shameful. He takes issue with these commentaries;
man is Hashem's handiwork; there is nothing innately unpleasant with man's
nature. Why was there shame in the end? The shame was produced due to the
introduction of something external -- non-essential -- associated with excessive
lust and desire.
In a similar way,
Ramban (Nachmanides) explains the effect of the forbidden fruit: It increased
desire and lust, so that a person would desire one thing and its opposite...
The same language is used by the Ramban near the end of the Torah (Deut.
30:6), in describing the "circumcision of the heart." From creation man would
chose good by nature; after the incident of the fruit, man would desire one
thing and the very opposite... In the Messianic Era, there will again come
a time when man will not be pressured and compelled by the evil inclination...
The sefer Peleh
Yoetz, under the category "Ger," begins an amazing digression on economic
theory. A person makes his livelihood his main effort in this world. In order
to cover enormous expenses, he has to earn more income. The whole thinking
is based on a fallacy! It is only because he put his priority on work that
he had so many expenses. If he would place his priority on essential matters,
he would find many "necessities" to be mere luxuries. He wouldn't need such
a vast income, because he wouldn't have such enormous expenses. (Haven't
you heard this story? "When I worked in the office, I had time... Now that
I went on my own, I'm working night and day to cover the overhead...")
At great length,
the Peleh Yoetz, describes the importance of avoiding "mosros" -- excesses.
Without the expensive lifestyle and lavish habits, life would be drastically
simpler. Without dangerous and expensive excesses, we would avoid bankruptcy
and a variety of maladies.
What does this
have to do with "Ger" -- Convert or Stranger? The word cannot only refer
to converts, because the verse states: "You know the soul of the Ger because
you were Gerim in Egypt." This must refer to being a stranger, a wanderer
in a foreign land. The Torah commands us to love the Ger. Thus, we should
be extremely kind to converts and strangers of all types. If we make ourselves
to be strangers -- then we shall become beloved in Hashem's eyes, for He
is the first to show love for the Ger. We become strangers by seeing this
world as a passing stop for wayfarers. We are only visiting. We must travel
lightly, or the journey will become too cumbersome.
3. The First Man
If all the above
sounds too familiar, it is because this is the very story of mankind. Man
was placed in the Garden of Eden; he had whatever he needed. Only a certain
amount of labor was necessary; food was there for the taking. The forbidden
fruit was unnecessary, dangerous -- the epitome of excess. Once he ate of
it, he needed more and more, his lust could not be quenched. He was sent
from the Garden as a lesson. Now he would have to work -- "You will eat by
the sweat of your brow." But how much does he have to eat? Yaakov only asked
for bread to eat and clothing to wear!
4. The Priority of the Soul
The Sefas Emes
(Parshas Behar 5663 -- 1882) explained that "Man is born for trouble (or
labor)" Job 5:7, could either refer to labor in earthly work or in spiritual
service. After the forbidden eating, man was cast from the Garden to work
the land. The prohibitions of labor on Shabbos, Shmittah and Yoveil are to
remind us of the main existence of the Jewish People.
Man is comprised
of body and soul. If the soul would overcome the body entirely, he would
be an angel. Hashem gave the Jewish People the soul of the world and the
internal nature of the world. This is the Torah, which is the soul of creation,
as the medrash states, "He looked into the Torah and created the world."
The Torah is the
soul and potential of all existence. At Mount Sinai, the Israelites reached
the level of pure soul (only to fall from their height at the incident of
the Golden Calf). When man was cast out to work the land, he became a Servant.
The Servant of the King takes care of the government. The Prince, however,
works directly for the King. This is the idea of the soul; Shabbos is the
day of the soul. The "Servant" refers to service of mitzvos (the commandments);
the "Prince" refers to the service at the source of the mitzvos (apparently
[The Vilna Gaon,
by the way, declares that working for a livelihood is a mitzvah; since it
is incumbent on the individual, it precedes Torah study (commentary to tractate