“But the human situation has in fact changed greatly” Ramchal says. “What we
see and determine about it now isn’t what it was originally”. And the
difference came about through Adam and Eve’s sin 1.
This change is vastly important and it affects a nearly infinite number of
small and large details. We’ll speak about some in broad terms below
2, but we obviously can’t point to or tie-in all of the details.
As such, there are two main epochs of time in the human experience: before
Adam and Eve sinned, and after 3.
1. We’ve alluded to this above, in note 1 to 1:2:5, note 3 to 1:3:1, and
note 1 in 1:3:4.
It’s important then to keep in mind that it was Adam alone who
was created "out of the blue" and infused by G-d Himself, along with Eve,
with quick life, while everyone else was born and slowly nourished into life
because of them and those they’d borne. In fact, everything they first were,
did, thought, and said left an indelible and utterly profound impression
upon their offspring and the world at large, while everything we are, do,
think, and say only figures into the mix. And the material things they came
into contact with only truly came alive and became meaningful the first time
Adam and Eve saw, heard, tasted, smelled, or touched it, while our seeing,
hearing, smelling, or touching things merely confirms and reconfirms Adam
and Eve’s existence.
Thus, while we matter and are of consequence in the aggregate,
Adam and Eve's very beings were of utter, utter consequence -- until they
ate of The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, when both they and we were
changed. Doing that, they affected our blood and bones as well as their own,
which left an indelible and utterly profound impression upon our beings and
theirs, and gave a whole new (albeit lesser) meaning to our material selves
as well as theirs.
In a sense, then, they became what we are. For, while they'd
once been perfectly balanced, they'd gone as off-kilter as we; and while all
they needed to do was to opt for all-goodness and they'd have achieved it,
2. See 2:4:2.
3. The two epochs of time could be termed The Balanced (or, "Adamic")
Epoch, and The Unbalanced (or, "Late Adamic") Epoch. But there’d actually
been another Adamic Epoch -- when the Torah was granted us and we were
returned to that earlier state (Shir HaShirim Rabba 5:1). And there'll prove
to be a third and final Epoch as well -- The Rebalanced or "Post-Adamic" one
of The World to Come, when we’ll supersede Adam’s level and accomplish what
he could not.
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason
Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various
locations on the Web.