Copy Right 2022

Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner

ADULTERY-3/The Two Primordial Sins





Reading Genesis Chapter One, we see that on Day Three, before seeding life on Earth,

ELKM passed a Midday Judgment. It was an unusual Judgment, since on all other Days

(Beside the Sixth) ELKM judged the Day only at its end. Earth stood on a crossroad:

Would it see life on it, or not? And as the verse attests, ELKM said that it was good and He went on with CREATION, planting the first life form on Earth.


Then, at the beginning of Eden story, the Torah tells us about that crucial judgment.  Before MAKING Adam on Earth on the Sixth Day, the two Attributes YHVH and ELKM appeared together, as YHVH ELKM, the way they would not appear again throughout the Torah,

and “together in Oneness” they “flew” backwards” over CREATION, “From Earth to Heavens,” in the opposite direction of Chapter One, re-creating or ‘consolidating’ the Six Days by their Oneness. As they “reached” the Third Day, before there was any  life on Earth, not even rain, they passed the Midday Judgment, this time “together” with MERCY present in the Heavenly Court.


Chapters 2-3, the story of Eden, tells us the details of that crucial Judgment.  YHVH ELKM FORMED an Adam, then FORMED a Garden called Eden, then placed the Adam there for a trial. It is like an architect who puts a house on the computer screen to test it, before placing the house on read ground.  The Midday Trial had two optional ending.  If Adam (and his wife) would win, Adam would be allowed to proceed to the Sabbath straight from there, without ever living on real Earth. It would save him the exposure to the death and the agony so prevalent on real Earth.  The terms of that Trial were easy – due to the advent of YHVH in the Court – Adam had to abide in Eden by only two Commandments. If he losses the trial, he would lose Eden, and be deemed to life on real Earth.  YHVH ELKM would then seed life on real Earth , still on Day Three, from where Adam would appear in a natural way, through a long Evolution – as it really happened.

The question is why does the Torah bother to tell us that story? What message can we derive from it? Is the message relevant to us, in the 21st century?

To answer that question let’s go back to the story.



After placing Adam in Eden, the Torah stats that he should “work it and preserve it.”

Eden needed no tilling nor working the ground, so the Rabbis said that “to work it” refers to keeping positive commandments – what to do, while “preserving it” refers to negative Commandment, what not to do.


Last class we said that although all the Six Commandments of Adam seem to be “negative” ones, telling Adam what NOT to do, in fact each Commandment carries a strong positive aspect of what TO DO.  Thus, IDOLATRY is not only a negative Commandment telling us NOT to worship idols, but also a strong positive instruction  to overcome  the idols’ attraction and to worship HaSheM.   It tells us, by a logical inference, that we should invest effort and energy to identify the idols and deny their magical attraction.  Hence the Commandment carries much positive aspect beside the negative tone. This holds true regarding the rest of Adam Six Commandments – they all require from us much positive effort to struggle with our natural desires and ambitions and to divert our energy towards G-d.




What then are the Commandments given to Adam in Eden?

Immediately after placing Adam in Eden the Torah says:


And YHVH ELoKiM Commanded on the Adam, saying,

of every tree of the Garden you may freely eat, but of the 

Tree of Knowledge Goodand Evil you shall not eat of it,
for on the Day that you eat of it you shall DIE.” (Genesis 2:16-1


We’ve already identified the term “evil” as a specifically bad in YHVH’s eyes.

Evil is something that YHVH hates or despises. Adam would see that aspect of Evil

Only if and when he carries in him the spectacle of YHVH in his heart.  This Commandment implies therefore that at that stage, prior to the sin, Adam lacked the perspectives of YHVH in his heart.


We also note that at that stage in Eden, living under the protection of the Tree of Life, Adam did not know what “to die” means. He is like a toddler whose parent warns him not to touch the poison ivy in the garden, less he gets an allergy attack.  The child has no clue what allergy is, yet he trusts his parent and would avoid the ivy. Adam too at that stage couldn’t KNOW, intimately, practically, what death is, yet he would avoid the Tree out of respect and trust for  his FATHER IN HEAVENS’s ADVICE.


You may also say that he would avoid the Tree out of respect to G-d as a KING of the Universe.  Hence he would listen to his PARENT’S Advice and to his KING’s Order.

In short – he would listen to Our FATHER our KING, avInue malkenu.



We use that term to address G-d on the Rosh Hashanah holiday, which is the annual anniversary of Adam creation, when the story of Eden is rehearsed. On no other day

in the year, we address G-d by that specific term – Our Father Our King.




How would we categorize that first Commandment ever given to Adam?

We can say that violating it, would be tantamount to a transgression of the KING’s Command, a rebellion against G-d, a sort of IDOLATRY.  In fact, this is is the only form of IDOLATRY that Adam would do in Eden.  He would certainly not worship idols of wood and stone; nor would he take drugs or alcohol. But he would, and did, deny G-d’s  Command by his own will.




The Second Commandment that Adam received in Eden was ADULTERY. Immediately following the forming the woman, the Torah says:
“Therefore, Man leaves his father
and his mother, cleaves to his wife
so that they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

Here the Torah lists the six classical sexual r prohibitions to Mankind.  A man should sexually leave his father’s wife, his father’s mother, his own mother and her daughters, his own daughters and her descendants.  The verse also sanctions MARRIAGE between a man and a woman, since the One – G-d – is in that marriage. It also prohibits homosexuality and bestiality.



Thus, we see here two primordial Commandments given to Adam in Eden.  Remarkably, no other Commandments of Adam’s six – BLOODSHED, THEFT, JUSTICE and BLASPHAMY – are mentioned here.  Indeed, the only Commandments that Adam and his wife COULD violate in Eden were IDOLATRY and ADULTERY, which indeed they did violate. The rest of the Six, says the Talmud, were also given to Adam but only as a potential, in case he would end us on Earth.


Similarly, Chapter One presents IDOLATRY and no other Commandment. Then the story of Cain and Abel presents BLOODSHED a the focus, then the stories about Abraham revolving around  THEFT and ABDUCTION as a focus, then the stories oof  Jacob with  JUSTICE at the focus.


Why then does the Torah present Adam’s Commandment, one by one, in this way, using successive stories? Why not listing them as one package  as in the Ten Commandments?


One good answer is that by giving the commandments through stories, the Torah enlarge their conception, gradually. Indeed, we can identify a pattern  in the stories.


Chapter One presents IDOLATRY, related to the creation of Adam as individual.

Eden presents ADULTERY – relevant to the existence of a marries couple,

BLOODSHED needs at least a nascent family to render the Commandment any relevance. Indeed, as soon as they formed a nascent family, Cain stood up and murdered Abel.

THEFT needs a larger community and a sense of ownership to be relevant.  It became enormously relevant in Abraham time, when Empires were formed to grab other people’s land and manpower for the Empire benefit.

INJUSTICE is relevant in large a large society, that can form institutions.


Hence the Commandments are presented in an ascending order related to the extent of people to whom each Commandment applies.


But there is a deeper reason for the way the Torah gives us the Commandments.   By using stories, the Torah highlights some aspects to each Commandment, that otherwise we would have missed.  Thus, presenting ADULTERY through Eden along with IDOLATRY, the Torah shows that these two are primordially intertwined, and that

they come from our most basic, animalistic drives – our Sex Drive and our enormous Ego.



You can see it better in the text.

Let’s recall that when forming Adam in Eden, YHVH ELKM Blew His Breath into Adam’s nostrils and Adam became a breathing, living creature. The verse mentions three terms:

Neshamah, Nefesh, Chayah.  The description reminds us an artist who blows his breath into a tube to form a glass vessel. The part of the Breath farther down the tube is the Chayah, which controls every cell in our body.  We share the Chayah with all living creatures, small or large, including the Vegetation. The Nefesh is the part of the CREATOR’S Breath that controls our organs, which we share with the Animal Kingdom.  The Neshamah is the part close to the CREATOR’S Lips, that is unique to Mankind.


The two “animalistic souls” – The Nefesh and the Chayah – control our body, while the “Divine soul” – the Neshamah, connects us to the CREATOR’S Lips.


There is a “struggle” between the Divine Soul and the Animalistic soul – about the control of our body.  Each aspires to grow and take control over body, chasing out the other one.


In Eden, Adam had   a ‘thin’ body – “airy coat” or “light coat” (Kutanot Or) –  protecting  his soul. Adam’s  body, even in Eden, has in it desires, such as to staying alive, or to reproduce, or to rule over.  These are basic animalistic drives that we share with all creatures in Nature. If Adam succumbs to those drives and allows them to control his life, his Nefesh and Chayah would grow, on account of the Divine Neshamah in him.

In that case Adam would not be allowed to proceed  towards the Eternal Sabbath.


To help Adam fight against those two strong, primordial drives – Sex Drive and the Drive for Power –  his FATHER-KING, YHVH ELKM, gave him the two Commandments of Eden, ADULTERY and IDOLATRY.  Abiding by them, Adam’s Neshamah would grow on account of the animalistic soul, rendering Adam the right to enter the Eternal Sabbath.


Thus, the Torah’s message here is that these two drives, the Sex Drive and the Drive for Power,  occupy a deep, primordial layer in our soul.  G-d gave us the two Commandments – IDOLATRY and ADULTERY – to help our stance Against  those Drives.


But there is more here than just help.  On Earth, we have a physical body – a “skin coat” over out primordial “airy coat” that we still carry from Eden. That “skin coat” produces many desires of its own, against which HaSheM has given us the rest of Adam Six Commandments: BLOODSHED, THEFT, JUSTICE and BLASPHEMY.


Abiding by these Commandments would strengthen our Neshamah, on account of our Nefesh and Chayah, our “animalistic soul.”


So that when time comes and we pass away, our new, stronger Neshamah would ascend to her CREATOR to sit higher than before by His Throne.


Hence there is an advantage of living on Earth compared to Eden.  Here we have a better chance to strengthen our Neshamah, an da better chance to reach the Sabbath.


Yet, we should be aware that deeply  in us, there are two primordial Drives that we carry from Eden – Sex Drive and the Drive to Dominate, to rebel, namely: our Ego. These two Drives are very difficult to overcome, even after overcoming all other Drives


This is why we often see people who do not kill, do not steal, do not take advantage of the weak and poor, honest people who are good and reliable citizen .  And yet, at some point, they stumble badly over ADULTERY.  The Rabbis said that we should be sure they have stumbled also over IDOLATRY, worshipping themselves. “YHVH says: Me and these arrogant, self-worshipping people can’t  be in the same room together.”