Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 1:3:5
“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, they didn’t.
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.