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.
Have a Good Shabbos!