Mere hours after the creation of Adam and Chava (Eve) they found themselves
at the Tree of Knowledge eating the forbidden fruit. "And the eyes of both
of them were opened and they realized they were naked; and they sewed
together a fig leaf and made themselves aprons." (Beraishis/Genesis 3:7)
But even a blind person knows when he is naked. Why does the Torah imply
that the awareness came only upon their opening their eyes? Rashi explains
that they had been given but one command to follow, and they became "naked"
of it. They divested themselves of that sole commandment with its violation.
The Talmud (Tractate Chagiga 12a) relates that prior to the sin, Adam was
on the loftiest of spiritual levels, that he was so great in his wisdom and
understanding of the Divine that G-d's own Ministering Angels wanted to
sing songs of praise in Adam's presence. It was with this profound insight
that Adam was able to assign names to the entire animal kingdom (ibid
2:19-20), names that reflected each animal's innate nature. But because of
his sin, his greatness was lost and his acute wisdom vanished. But if Adam
was so astute, so devout, so connected to the Divine, could he not have
foreseen the devastating havoc this sin would wreak?
Chidushei HaLev (the ethical discourses of Rabbi Alter Henach Leibowitz,
Rosh Yeshiva/Dean of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills, New York)
elucidates that it was impossible for Adam to appreciate before the sin the
intensity of the anguish and remorse - the profound sense of nakedness - he
would feel after the sin. Only after the events transpired could he truly
appreciate the magnitude of his devastation. But, had he been able to grasp
before the sin the feeling he would have after the sin then he surely would
not have violated the Divine command.
This, concludes Rabbi Leibowitz, is our tool for future success. When we
face trials and challenges - whether those challenges are to our character
or to our dedication to develop a relationship with the Divine - we must
remember the sense of disappointment, the anguish and remorse we felt after
the last time we did not rise to the challenge. We, unfortunately, do have
that sense of nakedness in our paradigm, and we must utilize that dreadful
recollection to keep us on the path to success.
We have just finished the four most intense weeks of the Jewish calendar.
The past month has given us multiple opportunities renew our relationship
with our Father in Heaven, to cast away the sins of the past year and
fortify our new relationship and resolve for the coming year. But as we
head into the cold darkness of winter, we cannot let the heated emotions of
the Tishrei holiday season fade into the past. We must use the shame and
remorse for the past to generate the passion that will keep our
spirituality warm, that will push us rise higher to meet our new
challenges, that will keep us on the path to success.