Friday, October 21, 2022

why Adam needed Chavah to be complete, the nachash's challenge, and Chanoch the shoemaker

 1) "Lo tov heyos ha'adam levado..."  Why not?  What was missing in his life?  He was living in Gan Eden with all his needs fulfilled!

What was missing is the ability to share with others, to give.  Without that, life has no purpose or meaning (R' Chaim Shmuelevitz).

According to Ramchal, Hashem created the world to be meitiv, to share his goodness with us, to give to us.  Humans are created b'tzelem Elokim.  We have an innate need to share, to give to others.  That is what gives our life meaning and purpose.

2) When the snake first approaches Chavah, the Torah relates:

וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־הָ֣אִשָּׁ֔ה אַ֚ף כִּֽי־אָמַ֣ר אֱלֹקים לֹ֣א תֹֽאכְל֔וּ מִכֹּ֖ל עֵ֥ץ הַגָּֽן׃

The pasuk is a bit cryptic.  Targum translates אַ֚ף as  בְּקוּשְׁטָא, a statement of truth.  It's hard to know (see Mizrachi) whether Targum read the pasuk as a real question being posed by the snake, i.e. "Did G-d tell you...?" or as a statement of fact posed as a rhetorical question, i.e. "Is it not true...?"  Rashi understood that it was a question: אף כי אמר וגו׳ – שמא אמר לכם לא תאכלו מכל וגו׳ – ואף על פי שראה אותם אוכלים משאר הפרות, הרבה עליה דברים כדי שתשיבנו, ויבא לדבר באותו עץ.  The nachash saw Adam and Chavah eating and knew (see Sifsei Chachamim) that they were not prohibited from doing so but he asked anyway as a means of eliciting a response and thereby engaging Chavah in conversation.  

Radak reads the pasuk as a challenge by the snake.  The nachash told Chavah that G-d must despise humans, as He did not allow them to eat all of the fruits in the garden:

באמרו אף שמורה תוספת על הדברים שקדמו, נראה כי דברים אחרים קדמו בין חוה ובין הנחש, ודומה שאמרה חוה לנחש על הכבוד שעשה להם האל שהשכינם בגן עדן, אמר לה הנחש אני רואה שהקב״ה שונא אתכם אף על פי שהגדיל אתכם משאר היצורים שלא יעשה לכם מעלה כך וכך, וכל שכן שאמר אליכם שלא תאכלו מכל עץ הגן בזה תוכלו להכיר שהוא שונא אתכם ואינכם חשובים בעיניו כמו שאת אומרת, והכתוב הניח ראשי הדברים ולקח סופם, וכן הוא מנהג הכתוב במקומות רבות

Remember the cheit ha'meraglim?   בְּשִׂנְאַ֤ת ה׳ אֹתָ֔נוּ הוֹצִיאָ֖נוּ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם (Devarim 1:27).  Once again, just as Bnei Yisrael are prepared to enter Eretz Yisrael, a return to Eden, if you will, the same sin, the same fear that G-d has rejected them, rears its ugly head.  The aleph of alephs of the yetzer ha'ra, the first and best weapon of the nachash, is to tell us that we are rejects, that G-d, or our rebbeim, or our parents, or whoever, does not love us, does not want us.   

Netziv is a contrarian here and reads the pasuk not as questioning why Adam and Chavah were eating, as Rashi assumes, but rather questioning why they were NOT eating.  אַ֚ף כִּֽי־אָמַ֣ר אֱלֹקים – ״מכל עץ הגן אכל תאכל״ (לעיל ב,טז), מכל מקום --לא תאכלו מכל עץ הגן.  Netziv explains that Adam and Chavah were in a state of dveikus with Hashem, and when you are close to G-d, you don't have an appetite, you don't worry about what's for lunch.  Even if you could eat on Yom Kippur, is that really what's on your mind on the holiest of days?  In steps the nachash: על כן בא הנחש בפיתוי — שהרי לא בחנם נברא העולם ומלואו, ואין רצון ה׳ שלא תהיו נצרכים לתענוגי העולם, וא״כ אין ראוי להיות שקוע באהבת ה׳ ובדבקות שהוא מהביל ומפריע כל תענוג גשמי, והוא נגד רצון ה׳ שהרי אמר ״מכל עץ הגן אכל תאכל״  Not only are you permitted to eat, argues the snake, but it's a mitzvah to eat, or why else would G-d have created a world and put you in it.  וכזה הוא פיתוי היצר בכל דור, כידוע, מתחילה משיא את הדבק בתורה ע״י איזה מצוה או דרך ארץ שהוא ישר באמת לשאר בני אדם, ואחר שמושכו מבית המדרש מוסיף והולך לפתות.  This is the argument the snake uses in every generation to draw us out into the world, to draw us away from the beit medrash, and once we are exposed to the tastes and temptations of the world, the slide down the slippery slope is almost inevitable.

3) The Midrash writes that Chanoch was a shoemaker, and with every stich he made on the shoes, he was m'yached yichudim.  Chasidim interpret this to mean that Chanoch's mind was on deep, Heavenly thoughts while he was stitching those shoes,while the aalei mussar (see Michtav m'Eliyahu in vol 1) interpret this to mean that by doing his work faithfully and avoiding gezel Chanoch was fulfilling the ratzon Hashem.  In the Mir yeshiva parsha sheet they quote a different hesber from Rav Shmuel Charkover, one that, as someone who goes to work every day, resonated with me.  R' Shmuel Charkover explained that with every stitch Chanoch made he said to himself, "I am not a shoemaker."  Next stitch, again, "I am not a shoemaker."  This was how he was m'yached yichudim.

People go through life thinking, "I am a <blank>," and that definition of who they are influences their whole approach to their avodas Hashem, to how they live.  Learn more than daf yomi?  "I'm a <blank>, not a masmid!"  Daven a little longer shacharis?  "I'm a <blank>, not a tzadik!"  Chanoch reminded himself constantly that his job was not his identity; it was just something he needed to do at that moment.  


  1. I love the idea in #1. Do you have a mar'eh maqom?

    Still, how does that fit Hashem's description -- eizer kenegdo? A "kenegdo" could be a counterpart to share with, I guess. But what does R Chaim Shmuelevitz do with "eizer"? Clearly he needed help for *something* even though in gan eden all his physical needs were met. (Other than one, which he did need a spouse for,)

    1. Opening words of the haqdamah to Shaarei Yosher:
      יתברך הבורא ויתעלה היוצר שבראנו בצלמו ובדמות תבניתו, (בראשית א:כז) וחיי עולם נטע בתוכנו (ברכת התורה) שיהיה אדיר חפצנו, להיטיב עם זולתנו, ליחיד ולרבים, בהוה ובעתיד, בדמות הבורא כביכול. (תומר דבורה לרמ"ק פרק א), שכל מה שברא ויצר היה רצונו יתברך רק להיטיב עם הנבראים, כן רצונו יתברך שנהלך בדרכיו. כאמור (דברים כח:ט, בבא קמא ק.), "והלכת בדרכיו" היינו שנהיה אנחנו בחירי יצוריו, מגמתנו תמיד, להקדיש כוחותינו הגופניים והרוחניים לטובת הרבים כפי ערכנו.

      (I don't know who added the mar'eh meqomos; they aren't in the original, and only the outright quotes are in footnotes in my book. But I saw them in a cut-n-pastable web page and thought they are nice to have.)

      Notice that R Shimon invokes the Torah-as-eitz-chaim when discussing the goal of our lives in terms of being of benefit to others, to be the kind of person who wants to be of benefit to others, and to do so in partnership with and emulation of the Borei. Seems to speak to RCS's point quite directly.