Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
The Humans Vs the Serpent
1. The spiritual level of the humans
before the Sin
As an introduction to the Primordial Sin,
the Torah describes the spiritual level
of the humans at that point, as it says:
“And they were both naked, Adam and his wife,
and they were not ashamed…” (Genesis 2: 25)
Why were they naked and unashamed?
Some say that they resembled innocent children
(but they were, rather, young adults!)
“They were naked and unashamed –
they did not yet know modesty,
meaning to distinguish between good and evil.”
Rashi is accurate.
Modesty is a characteristic of the perception of YHVH,
which the humans lacked, prior to eating the Forbidden Fruit’
of good and evil – perspectives of YHVH.
Rabeinu Bahyee concurs:
“Adam had already a mind that could know
right from wrong, truth from a lle,
which are features of our Logical mind.
Otherwise, without that smart mind,
ELHM wouldn’t put Adam on a trial.
This explanation concurs with our understanding
that at that point, Adam (and his wife) were WISE,
their minds working with logic, knowing right from wrong.
Thus, prior to their sin, Adam and the Woman were “Divinely Rational.”
To them, at that stage, nakedness did not seem ugly or repulsive,
not different from nakedness of other parts of our body.
The RMBM and other major commentaries,
hold the same explanation.
“To them, at that stage, the act of sexual coupling,
was natural as eating and drinking,
and the sexual organs seen no different,
than their faces or hands.”
In short, before the Primordial Sin, they knew
Right and Wrong, Truth from a Lie,
which are features associated with ELHM,
but not yet Good and Evil,
which are features associated with YHVH.
Indeed, in ELKM eyes, in the eyes of the creator of Nature,
there is nothing wrong in nakedness.
After all, all creatures in nature are naked and unashamed of it.
2. The Serpent
“Now the Serpent was the most ‘aa-room’ (naked, or cunning)
of all the beasts of the field which YHVH ELoKiM had made.
“And it said to the woman: Has not ELoKiM told you
that ‘you shall not eat of any tree of the Garden?”
Genesis 2:25, 3:1)
The verse describes the Serpent as a
Beast of the Field which was “aa-room,” meaning –
- ‘Aa-room’, naked, like all “the beasts of the field.,”
- ‘Aa-room,’ smart, cunning. It could speak, walk on two legs,
and it was sexually attractive to the human female.
The Serpent lacked the perception of YHVH.
You see that in the text. As it speaks to the Woman
it mentions ELKM only, never YHVH.
Indeed, as a beast of the field, even a sophisticated beast,
the Serpent could not be aware of the Merciful Attribute YHVH,
because all creatures created besides Adam, were created by ELHM alone.
Only before creating Adam, ELKM said
“Let Us Make an Adam,” participating YHVH in the making of Adam.
ELKM would not make Adam merciful by birth,
since Mercy is none of His “faculties.”
But ELKM created with a room in Adam’s heart,
ready and capable of receiving the Merciful YHVH in it,
pending on Adam’s discretion,
something the Serpent could never do.
Adam would understand INTIMATELY Good and Evil – YHVH’s values,
once he has eaten from the Fruit.
Let’s pay attention to the Forbidden Fruit.
The Tree of Knowledge – daat – Good and Evil,
would render the eater the daat, intimate, firs hand comprehension,
of good and evil.
There are three levels of KNOWLEDGE, Wisdom.
Chohma – the genera, theoretical comprehension of a concept,
Binah – the above, theoretical level but in more details,
Daat – an intimate acquaintance with the concept obtained by personal experience.
For instance – a groom may know his bride
on a theoretical, far-removed knowledge,
obtained by photos or other modes of information about her,
which we would call chochma.
And he may progress and become aware of her
by meeting or dating her, knowing her in much more details
which we would call binah,
And he would finally know her intimately after marriage,
Which we would call the level of daat.
Like in the verse:
“And Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she bore him Cain.” (4: 1)
Here, clearly, the Hebrew verb “to know” refers to intimate, close knowledge.
Thus, prior to the Primordial Sin, before eating the Fruit,
Adam and his Wife could know YHVH on a theoretical level,
of chohma and binah, without practical implications.
This makes sense, since living protected by the Tree of Life,
there was no practical meaning of MERCY, GRACE, and COMPASSION.
Since no one suffered in Eden. There was no daat of YHVH’s values.
Only if they eat of the Tree of Knowledge – daat – good and evil,
they would comprehend evil on the level of daat,
an intimate acquaintance of evil, obtained only on Earth.
Hence while the humans in Eden, before the Sin,
were bereaved of practical knowledge of YHVH,
their heart was capable oof comprehending YHVH and Evil
once they have eaten the fruit,
The Serpent in contrast would never be able to comprehend YHVH,
even by eating the Fruit, since as a beast,
it had no room in its heart for YHVH, ever.
So, what was the Serpent?
Some say it was Satan, created to allure the humans into sin.
But that can’t be true, since the Serpent was finally punished by G-d,
and Satan would never be punished for doing its job.
In fact, the Midrash describes the Serpent more precisely,
as a “Camel on which Satan took a ride.”
Thus Satan, an angel appointed by G-d to act as our prosecutor,
used the Serpent as a Vehicle to allure the humans into sin.
So again, what was the Serpent?
The best explanation, that fits the story, says,
that it was the creature that ELKM would have created by Evolution,
had He not decided to create Adam first.
For instance, on the Sixth Day of CREATION it says that
ELKM created “Cattle like, Beast-like, then “Crawling creatures.”
The Serpent was a virtual extension of the “crawling creatures.”
Which means – had ELKM given the “crawling creatures”
few more million years to develop,
they would have developed into smart creatures, like the Serpent,
which could know ELKM but never know YHVH.
Thus, in virtual Eden,
the CREATOR encountered these two smart creatures,
the humanoid and the Serpent, against each other.
Both were naked and unashamed.
Both were smart enough to know right for wrong, which are ELKM’s features,
Both lacked, at that point prior to the sin, the (practical) perception of YHVH.
In other words – the Serpent and the humans were a good match.
Everything was set up at that point for the big trial of Eden.
There was a married couple, Adam and his Wife,
they could violate IDOLATRY (by eating the fruit and disobeying the FATHER-KING’ command) and ADULTERY (if the woman cohabits with the Serpent)
Both knew right from wrong, a truth from a lie.
and we have there the ultimate enticer- the cunning Serpent.
The stakes of Eden trial were high.
If they win their trial, Adam and his wife could have stayed in Eden
till the Sabbath arrives, never been exposed to “evil” – death on Earth.
If they fail, they would be driven out of Eden to be MADE on real Earth,
being exposed to the angel of death.
On Earth, they would know good from evil, intimately,
and they would fully appreciate what YHVH is all about.
Let’s see what happened.