Bereshit – The importance of Prophecy
The story of Adam and Eve is very complex. What are the trees of life and of knowledge? What does the snake have to do with the whole story?
As Jews we try to follow the Torah which is the voice of prophecy. Adam received a prophecy which personally warned him not to eat from the tree. We tend to ignore G-d just as Adam and Eve did. I am sure that we all believe that G-d gave us the Torah, yet this does not prevent us from ignoring what it says.
Eve believed that the commandment was from G-d she even stated that to the snake. She was easily seduced into eating the fruit. Unfortunately, we are also easily seduced into doing sins.
The story also has the devious snake. How did the snake get Eve to sin? The pasuk says two things. The first is he denies the word of G-d who said that they would die if they ate from the tree. The snake said, “You will not die.” The second is actually an attack against G-d, “He does not want you to eat it because then you will be like G-d who knows good and evil.” The snake incited Eve to fight with G-d. In truth, by eating the fruit she got no benefit and certainly did not become god like. The snake was just a big liar.
There is a snake inside every one of us and we feel compelled to listen to him. We accept the illogical deceit of our evil inclination all the time. When we look at how the Yetzer Harah works we see that his arguments are flimsy. They are lies just like the snake’s.
The first lesson of the Torah is the greatest insight into human nature and man’s relations with G-d. All of the characters in the story exist in every one of us. The tree of knowledge represents anything which is forbidden by G-d. Adam, Eve and the snake exist as different aspects of our personality. The snake inside of us tries to get us to believe that we are greater than G-d. The Eve inside of us is naive and believes the snake.
Our rationalizations not to follow the Torah are the same as in the story. G-d gives a commandment not to do something. We invent a flimsy reason why it does not apply in our situation and then we transgress.
Everyone has their favorite sin which they rationalize like our story.