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Bereishit(Genesis 1:1-6:8)

Touching and Eating

Parshat Bereishit recounts the famous story of Adam & Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. This incident is truly shocking, considering that Adam heard directly from God the instruction not to eat. What went wrong?

Indeed, God told Adam, "Don't eat from the tree." But Adam wanted to take an extra precaution, so when he told Eve of the prohibition, he said not to touch the tree.

The snake then used this as leverage for his own devious plot. The snake asked Eve: "What's the deal with that tree?" To which Eve replied: "We're not allowed to touch it."

At which point, the Midrash says, the snake pushed Eve into the tree and said: "See that – you touched it and nothing happened!" Eve was now confused, and the snake went in for the kill, saying: "God only told you to stay away from that tree in order to protect His own position. Because do you know where God got the power to create this world? By eating from that tree! So of course God wants everyone else to stay away from it!"

"But," the snake continued, "you touched it ... and nothing happened! So go ahead and eat from it, too!"

Eve ate, and we're still feeling the consequences today.

Now let's analyze this sequence of events. The fact that Adam prohibited touching the tree was a good precautionary measure against the danger the tree represented. The city erects barriers around dangerous manholes, so why not erect a barrier against violating God's word? But Adam's mistake was in failing to communicate to Eve the clear distinction between what was God's command, and what was man's added level of safeguard.

That's why throughout Jewish history, our Sages have always gone to great lengths to distinguish between what is Torah law and what is Rabbinic law. Adam's fatal mistake was in not communicating that distinction.

October 29, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Anonymous, October 28, 2016 12:04 PM

Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting!

(4) CHUCK, September 28, 2010 3:42 PM

Eve is in on it.

If one does a careful reading of the verses, then it is apparent that G-d gives the instructions of the tree to the unified human, before the separation. Therefore Eve is fully aware regarding the truth of touching and eating. The first couple more likely imposed a safeguard for themselves, and the snake had a glib tongue. VERSE 3:1 'the serpent was more subtle than any beast' The Satan guised a snake talked Eve into something she knew was wrong. And yes Adam too, was wrong for not accepting responsibilty for his actions.

(3) Noach Yehoshua, October 13, 2009 12:29 AM

wanting closeness?

I read an article about a Jewish theater group, who performed an experiment by giving a group of ladies a piece of fruit. They were then told you are Eve, and to desribe their thoughts...... The end result was that everything Eve had heard came only from Adam, and she wanted the closeness to GD that Adam had. She did not take the fruit out of lust, from spite or from some evil desire, but only to have the closeness to GD that her husband had.

(2) SusanE, October 10, 2009 4:58 PM

Adam was Wrong

God gave Adam the law about eating from the Tree of Life. Those words were' Do not eat'. Those were the exact words Adam needed to convey to Eve. They were Straight from G-d. ---------- Adam changed the words and the meaning when he spoke to Eve. I don't believe Adam was trying to add extra protection for her. If he respected her he wouldn't have put the blame for his sin on her. He was a liar and didn't take responsibility for his actions. He had been in communication with G-d before Eve was created, and was offered but didn't accept a suitable companion from what G-d had offered through the animals. So G-d created Eve.--------------------------------- I'm unsure about why this sin happened so soon after creation. Either Adam thought he could do better than G-d so he made his own law. Or Adam didn't want Eve in the garden with him, and he deliberately gave her the wrong message. I wonder if Adam also talked with the snake? We can certainly see from this story, why Cain inherited those bad character traits. G-d gave Adam a chance to confess his actions, but instead of admitting what he had done, first he blamed Eve by telling G-d it's the fault of the woman He provided, then he lied about it. The lying and the blaming hasn't stopped......... even today the Adams of the world don't take responsibility for their actions. They also aren't doing a great job of protecting their Eves. Adams' was the first step in changing the letters of G-ds law.

(1) Scott Granowski, October 5, 2007 5:02 PM

Adam's Wrong

Thank you for your article. It sheds light on where Adam and Eve took their missteps. It also seems to me that Adam's incorrect communication implied that Eve was less able to handle the truth than he was - as God saw fit to communicate to not eat. Thus, by not giving Eve the credit to stand in the truth and by not giving Eve the opportunity to work with the truth, his own concern facilitated their downfall. This is something I do when I'm "babying" others - I can see its potential destructiveness.

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