Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
Sin is To Transgress Our Father-in-Heaven’s Advice
1. Forming the Adam
Just before MAKING Adam on real Earth,
YHVH ELKM, “flew” backwards from the Sixth Day to the First,
consolidating the Universe under their new rule.
Then, on DAY THREE, when there was not yet any life on real Earth,
YHVH ELKM – in Oneness – FORMED an Adam, as it says:
“And YHVH ELKM FORMED the Adam as a dust from the ground,
and He (in singular form of the verb) blew in his nostril a soul of life (nishmat)
and Adam became a living creature (nefesh chayah)” (Genesis 2: 6)
The verse describes how Adam became alive in the Garden,
by a kiss from YHVH ELHM’s Lips:
YHVH ELHM blew His Breath into Adam’s nostrils,
something He did not do with any other creature.
2. Three Levels of Adam’s Soul
The verse mentions three ingredients of our soul –
Neshama, Nefesh, Chaya.
The Midrash explains: the CREATOR resembles a glassblower blowing his Breath into a glass tube, our body, forming a ‘vessel.’
The part of his Breath farther down the tube is the Chaya,
which controls the basic elements of life in our body, like the cells.
We share the Chaya with all living creatures, including vegetation and bacteria.
The second part of His Breath, that occupies the middle of the tube, is Nefesh.
It controls our body’s organs, that we share with the rest of the animal Kingdom.
The part closest to the CREATOR’S Lips, is the Neshama (soul)
which is present only in Mankind, connecting us to the CREATOR’s Lips.
These three levels constitute a “spiritual Umbilical Cord”
which connects us to the CREATOR’s lips.
Each of these three levels of our soul can be contaminated by our sins.
At birth, our spiritual Umbilical Cord is pure.
We should return our three levels of our soul to the CREATOR still pure and shiny.
3. FORMING the Garden of Eden
While there was not yet any shrub or tree or life on real ERTH, not even rain,
YHVH ELKM FORMED the Garden of Eden and He (singular form)
“Placed there the Adam that He had FORMED.” (2: 8)
Now the Torah describes the Trees in that (virtual) Garden:
“And YHVH ELHM caused to sprout from the ground,
every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food.
Also, the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden,
and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” (Genesis 2: 9
Among the many Trees in the miraculous Garden, two stood out:
The Tree of Life,
The Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil,
The Tree of Life protected the Garden’s inhabitants from the angel of death,
The Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil had a fruit, that would render whoever ate of it the awareness of Good and Evil.
What is Evil? As we’ve learned from Genesis Chapter One,
the term ‘evil’ in the Torah comes only as a perspective of the Merciful YHVH.
Being evil means being cruel, indifferent to suffering, being the opposite
of what MERCY is all about.
AS LONG AS ADAM LIVES IN THE GARDEN UNDER THE TREE OF LIFE, HE CANN’T BE AWARE OF EVIL, SORROW AND DEATH. HE WOULD NEVER EXPERIENCE IT IN EDEN.
BUT ONCE HE IS DRIVEN OUT OF EDEN TO LIVE ON EARTH, ADAM WOULD ‘KNOW’ INTIMATELY WHAT EVIL IS.
4. Placing Adam in Eden
“And YHVH ELKM took the Adam and He (singular form) placed him
in the Garden of Eden to till it and preserve it” (2: 15)
There was no need to till the ground physically since it was virtual.
The terms ‘til’ and ‘preserve’ mean to win a trial
so that he would stay there forever, till the arrival of the Eternal Sabbath.
What was the trial? The verse says it right away:
And YHVH ELoKiM Commanded on the Adam, saying,
of every tree of the Garden you may freely eat,.
but of the Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil you shall not eat of it,
for on the Day that you eat of it you shall DIE.” (Genesis 2:16-1
If Adam eats of it, he would lose Eden, and be driven out to live on ERTH,
where he would be exposed to the angel of death and know, intimately, what evil is.
Hence prior to the eating, Adam had no clue what “to die” means. He had never seen death. In that sense, Adam resembles a toddler whose parents warn him-
“Johnny, you may play here in the backyard, but be careful – do not touch the poison ivy out there! For the moment you touch it you’ll get an allergy and even die!”
Johnny the Toddler does not know what allergy is and what “to die” means. Yet he would abide by his PAREN’T ADVISE for he trusts them and know that they only wish the best for him.
Here in Eden too, although Adam has no clue what evil is and what death is, he would refrain from eating the fruit OUT OF RESPECT TO HIS PARENTS AND HIS LOVE FOR THEM. HE WOULD NOT ENRAGE THEM BY EATING THER FRUIT.
And here we’ve arrived at the most basic notion of sin – a transgression of our FATHER IN HEAVENS’ ADVICE.
Thus, the Torah builds here first of all the notion of sin. As we’ll see, there are other, higher levels of Sin. The most primordial one is disobeying our FATEHR IN HEAVENS’s ADVICE.
As Adam continues to grow, he learns a new aspect of sin.
On that we’ll learn next class.