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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Bereshit

Bereshith

Rabbi Dov Berl Wein Tishrei 5768
3297
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All of the problems and morbidities of human existence are reflected in the story of Adam and Chava as related to us in this week’s parsha. The Torah tells us that this is the book of humans - the book of Adam. It is meant to teach us that people after a fall can also rise and continue to live and accomplish. The Midrash teaches us that after Adam’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden he sank into a deep and extended depression. It was his murdering son, Kayin, who succeeded to rouse him from that state of depression by explaining to him that God would accept repentance and apology from him. But more importantly, God expected Adam to rise from his sadness and attempt to rebuild his life and through his efforts the world as well. The Torah tells us that from this resurgent feeling of purpose was born his third child Sheit who eventually becomes the father of all civilization’s morals and holiness. The picture of the eternally mourning Adam as portrayed by artists and paintings is a distorted one. The majority of Adam’s life is spent in attempting to restore human purpose and progress in the world. His original sin created irreversible consequences but that is not the entire story of his life and existence. For as long as he lived he influenced humans and they still had a visible connection to the Creator who fashioned them and to the ideas of holiness that still emanated from Adam. It is after the death of Adam that the world’s turn towards wickedness and destruction gains momentum and force.

The great gift of God to humans - the Shabat - is part of this week’s parsha. Shabat is the ultimate renewal, the weapon of resilience and freshness. It allows us on a weekly basis to make a new start and to shake off the disappointments and defeats of the past week. It is therefore no wonder that the Midrash assigns to Adam the authorship of the great psalm that begins "a song of melody to the day of the Shabat". For Adam now becomes the human example of psychological resilience, of raising one’s self somehow from the depths of guilt and depression and regaining purpose and focus and hope in life. Shabat is the symbol of the new week and of new opportunity and further accomplishment. Without the day of rest that renews us we are always destined to be jaded, tired and ultimately sad. The mantra of Judaism is the verse in Mishlei/Proverbs "the righteous may fall seven times but they always arise thereafter." The difference between righteousness and wickedness is apparently not in falling but in arising thereafter. Adam should therefore be remembered not as the forlorn and tragic figure as he is usually portrayed but rather as the first human to taste the beauty and renewing vitality of Shabat. Unfortunately but realistically, the past cannot be undone. But the future still awaits our creative efforts and talents to shape it and bring it to reality.




Rabbi Dov Berl Wein
The rabbi of the "HANASI" congregation in Yerushalim, head of the Destiny foundation, former head of the OU, Rosh Yeshiva of 'sharai Tora" and rabbi of the "Beit Tora" congregation, Monsey, New York.
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