Adam Harishon, the Full Story – Breishit


This Shabbat Breishit is unlike any other for me, because this is the first time we will be starting a new yearly cycle of the Torah - in which HKB”H blessed me that Sefer Meir Panim was זוכה to finally see the light of day.

Little did I realize when setting out to delve into the secrets of the Lechem Hapanim that the path would ultimately lead to this parsha, Breishit, where HKB”H in His mercy opened my eyes to discover the root and the essence of the Lechem Hapanim. The Lechem Hapanim only exists by virtue of the first two chapters of parshat Breishit.

It is therefore fitting to devote this shiur to examining the story of Adam Harishon, tying together all the snippets and fragments from Meir Panim that appear in my previous shiurim over the years, into one, “full story”, from beginning to end. Meir Panim’s approach to the סוגיא is a chiddush based on proofs and hints from the psukkim which HKB”H opened my eyes to, using the methodology of רמז, (one of the four methods of deciphering and understanding the Torah – פרדס –  פשט, דרש, רמז, סוד) that includes, amongst other things, gematriya, rashei teivot, sofei teivot, אתב"ש etc. Due to their length, these proofs will not be included in this shiur (you may find them in the sefer). It goes without saying that there are other opinions in the Mefarshim that are different to this approach and they are all right, אלו ואלו דברי א-לוקים חיים.

Before setting sail, I would like to quote and echo the words of the Ramban from the preface to his perush on the Torah.

“My soul knows with utmost clarity, that as the egg of an ant is totally insignificant when compared to the enormity of the sun, so too is my understanding of the secrets of the Torah….. However, what shall I do that my soul craves the Torah, which is like a consuming fire in my heart, to tread in the footsteps of my teachers, lions all, luminaries of the generations, joining them in writing commentaries on the Torah….. May HKB”H shield me from the day of wrath, save me from error and sin, guide me in the straight path and open the gates of light to us….”

Similarly I would like to quote the Gemara in Shabbat 112b that warns us about passing judgment on our forefathers –

“If the Earlier Generations were like angels, then we are regular people compared to them. If they were like people, then compared to them we are donkeys and not the donkeys of R’ Chanina ben Dosa and R’ Pinchas ben Yair”

We have zero understanding of people of the caliber of Adam Harishon and Chava and dare not criticize or pass judgment on them. However, Chazal analyzed what is written about them in the Torah in order that we may learn a lesson from them relating to our Avodat Hashem.

Adam Harishon, the Full Story:

One would think that the six days of Creation were flawless perfection and they were, but not necessarily within the time frame we are thinking of. HKB”H’s Creation embodied every possible element and component required for perfection to be achieved - in the final reckoning. Just like a child is born with a pure soul and has every ability and skill set required for achieving perfection in his/her lifetime, so too was the world born with all the promise and capability to achieve perfection. Just like we humans have a lifespan, within which we must strive to obtain perfection (some of us do, some of us don’t and have to return in גלגולים until we do), so too did HKB”H create a world with a lifespan (6000 years) within which perfection was to be attained.

We often read the parsha of Creation and ask ourselves “If HKB”H was in charge, how can it be that on the 2nd day מחלוקת was created (between the upper and lower waters), on the 3rd day the tree disobeyed HKB”H’s command that the branches should taste like the fruit, on the 4th day the moon complained that it was “overcrowded” in the heavens, on the 6th day Adam Harishon sinned with the עץ הדעת. If HKB”H’s Creation is perfection, then where is the perfection?”

However, if we understand that that the world was not created with instant perfection, but rather that the world is a process, at the end of which perfection will be achieved - then it begins to make sense. וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי. Already on the 6th day of Creation HKB”H had programmed that 2448 years later there would be another 6th day (Sivan), the day Am Yisrael would receive the Torah. Similarly HKB”H programmed another date called בעיתה, when the Geulah is preordained to occur. We do not know the exact date, because HKB”H wants us to consider each and every day to be the day. If we knew that it would only happen in 2000 or so years’ time, we would not make any effort in our lifetimes to be participant in the process. That is why HKB”H programmed two timelines בעיתה and אחישנה so that we would have an incentive to be active in preempting the Geulah.

Adam Harishon sinned, there was a flood, Yosef was sold into slavery, Am Yisrael sinned with the עגל הזהב, the Batei Mikdash were destroyed, we have been in גלות for 1953 years, there was a Holocaust, we experienced a Yom Kippur war, untold terror attacks and anti-Semitism, etc. Our history is peppered with catastrophe after catastrophe.

Why did Adam sin? Why couldn’t he have just done what HKB”H told him and we would now be 5783 years into the Geulah? Why did the brothers sell Yosef into slavery? Why did Am Yisrael worship the עגל? etc. We are quick to judge the previous generations. I could ask the same question today “Why don’t Am Yisrael all over the world simply do teshuva and keep this coming Shabbat Breishit כהילכתה and the Geulah would come?” The answer is that theoretically it is possible. If Hashem suddenly appeared to the world, overtly and visibly, this would spur us on to actually doing it (That is the way it will be בעיתה). However, as it currently appears (actually בעיתה may come today, one never knows), we are simply not ready and the world is not ripe yet for Geulah and therefore it hasn’t yet come earlier than planned. Just as Am Yisrael does not seem ripe at this very moment for Geulah, so neither was Adam in his generation, Yosef and the brothers in theirs, Am Yisrael with the עגל, etc. Just as it is insurmountably difficult for all of Am Yisrael to all observe Shabbat כהילכתה this coming Shabbat, so too were the circumstances in previous generations, not totally impossible, but equally insurmountably difficult.

Our history is not a vicious cycle of repeating the same error, over and over again and not learning. Each incident in our national timeline is part of a learning curve that incrementally improves us, makes us better, more deserving, drawing us inexorably closer to the Geulah. If you compare Am Yisrael today to the דור המדבר for example, on the one hand you have tremendous ירידת הדורות and the awareness of HKB”H in our generation is microscopic compared with that of דור המדבר. On the other hand, our advancement on the learning curve has given us more “wisdom born of experience” and places us in a more advantageous position in terms of not repeating past mistakes. Adam Harishon only discovered the concept of teshuva after Kayin killed Hevel. Our entire history is a growth process of מכל מלמדי השכלתי.

HKB”H wants the world, through Am Yisrael, to coronate Him as King – out of free choice, that is what אחישנה is. If we fail to do this of our own volition, HKB”H in His mercy, has programmed a date that it will happen regardless. 

After that introduction we can begin the shiur.

On the 3rd day HKB”H created the grasses and the trees. In His commandment to the earth HKB”H stipulated that the tree should manifest in such a way that its fruit should taste the same as its branches. HKB”H’s intention was to create the עץ החיים, where branches and the fruit are equal, hinting that the Avot and their offspring, the Twelve Tribes were all equal in their devotion to HKB”H. The tree disobeyed HKB”H’s commandment and instead manifested in such a way that the fruit was edible but not the branches. The tree that had disobeyed HKB”H was the עץ הדעת. Since HKB”H’s original intention was to create the עץ החיים, He had to create a second tree, the originally intended עץ החיים. HKB”H did not uproot the wayward עץ הדעת, because HKB”H does not desire the destruction of the רשעים, but their repentance. HKB”H then placed these two trees in the center of Gan Eden, the עץ החיים on the southern end and the עץ הדעת on the northern end.

On the 6th day HKB”H created man. Adam Harishon was the pinnacle of HKB”H’s Creation, his stature exceeded that of every other creation, including the angels. The Midrash tells us that the angels were “waiting” on Adam and serving him food and decantering wine. HKB”H created Adam Harishon as a hermaphrodite, with male and female fused together in one integral organism. This made Adam superior to every other living creature, in whom the separation of the genders was distinct. Chazal tell us that Adam’s stature towered from the earth all the way up to Heaven.

The angels (specifically one angel, the ס"מ) were jealous of Adam Harishon’s elevated stature and tried to intercede. HKB”H said to them “If you are so ‘smart’, let’s see you give names to all the living creatures”. They tried and failed. Only Adam could give names to the creatures, names that embodied their essence. After naming them all, HKB”H asked Adam “What should I call you?” The reply was “Adam, since I was created with dust from the אדמה”. In creating Adam, HKB”H did hafrashat challah from the earth, gathering dust from all four corners of the world.

Adam noticed that all the other creatures had a distinct, separate “mate” which he did not. HKB”H then created Chava by separating the female part of the hermaphrodite Adam Harishon from the male part. HKB”H braided Chava’s hair to make her spiritually beautiful to Adam (braided hair is more modest than unbraided, as its exposure is minimized) and presented Chava to Adam under a chuppah, with HKB”H Himself acting as the שושבין, as it were.

Adam and Chava were then placed in Gan Eden לעבדה ולשמרה – to “serve” and to “guard”. HKB”H’s intention was for Adam to “serve” Him using the עץ החיים, an acronym for the Torah. The עץ הדעת that had sinned was fenced off. Adam and Chava were commanded to “guard” themselves from it and were forbidden to eat from it.

HKB”H initially gave Adam four mitzvot, three positive and one negative. The first mitzva was to procreate, פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁהָ. The second mitzva was to dominate all other creatures, וּרְדוּ בִּדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבְכָל חַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת עַל הָאָרֶץ. The third mitzva was to eat from the עץ החיים which was the Torah, מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל, in other words the tree that had been created with HKB”H’s special middah of כל. Finally, the 4th mitzva was to refrain from eating from the עץ הדעת, the tree that had sinned, וּמֵעֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע לֹא תֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ.

Adam Harishon was initially devoid of יצר הרע. HKB”H did not command him to stay away from the נחש or the יצר הרע, only to not eat from the עץ הדעת. HKB”H was not worried that the יצר הרע would gain control over Adam, who was too powerful for the יצר הרע. HKB”H was only worried that Adam should eat from the עץ הדעת, which symbolized ingratitude. The only thing that HKB”H would not tolerate from Adam was ingratitude, since gratitude is the foundation stone for עבודת ה', gratitude to the Creator who created you.

Adam was negligent in observing all four of these mitzvot.

Instead of dominating all the other creatures as commanded (including the yetzer harah) and utilizing the yetzer harah for the purpose of good, Adam totally blocked out the yetzer harah, the angel, called ס"מ, in charge of the 5th level in Heaven called מעון which is the source of שמחה.  The yetzer harah and the שמחה he controls are essential for the mitzva of פרו ורבו. Without both the yetzer harah and שמחה, a person has no motivation to perform פרו ורבו. This is what happened with Adam. Instead of diligently performing this mitzva, he was lax and negligent and it simply didn’t happen.

Chava, the second party responsible for the observance of this mitzva (although the obligation is on the male, not the female), did not want to see harm come to her husband because of his tardiness, so she tried to supplement the missing שמחה, by giving him wine to drink, as it says יין ישמח לבב אנוש. However, instead of having the desired effect, it put Adam to sleep.

The yetzer harah was jealous of Adam Harishon. Before Adam was created, the yetzer harah was the most elevated of HKB”H’s creations, the highest angel in Heaven, with twelve wings. Adam was impregnable to the yetzer harah, but not Chava. This is a second meaning to the passuk לעבדה ולשמרה that it was Adam’s job לשמרה, to protect Chava from the yetzer harah, which he failed to do. The yetzer harah saw an opening to harm Adam, through Chava.

The yetzer harah chose the highest functioning animal, the נחש, who before the sin was an upright creature resembling a camel. The yetzer harah infiltrated and took control over the נחש, who could speak and proceeded to seduce Chava, honing in on the very issue that was at the forefront of her concern.  “Chava, you know that if Adam does not perform פרו ורבו, you will not bear offspring and the world will cease to exist.” The yetzer harah continued “I know of a way to prevent that and make sure you live forever. HKB”H “ate” from the tree and built worlds. If you also eat from it you too can create worlds, like HKB”H”. All good lies are based on some version of the truth. Similarly the yetzer harah lied to Chava that HKB”H, as it were, ate from the עץ הדעת and thereby acquired the knowledge to create the world.  It was a partial truth. HKB”H did “eat” from the tree, as it were, but not the עץ הדעת. Chazal tell us that HKB”H consulted with the Torah, the עץ החיים, before creating the world.

The yetzer harah continued “If you take from the fruit of the tree (wheat – which back then grew on trees, not on the ground), grind it up into dust (flour), mix it with water into a kind of a dough (just like HKB”H did in creating Adam), then I (the yetzer harah) will breathe ‘life’ into it and you will have created life on your own – without Adam and without HKB”H!” Thus it came about that Chava ground wheat into flour, mixed it with water into a dough, let it sit for a while unattended (don’t read הנחש השאני, but rather הנחש השהני, meaning “delay”) and created a chametz bread. Instead of the “dough” becoming inflated with נשמת חיים as was in the case of Adam, the “dough” became inflated with chametz. Chava was then duped into eating from this chametz bread, following which the נחש had intercourse with her (from which Kayin was born).  Throughout this interaction between Chava and the נחש/yetzer harah, Adam was fast asleep from drinking the wine Chava gave him.

Chava realized she had sinned and that she was no longer immortal. Out of jealousy that Adam would divorce her and marry another woman, Chava devised a ruse to get Adam to also eat from this chametz bread, thus making him mortal as well. Whether Chava literally wrapped the bread in a fig leaf, or the word תאנה only has deeper mystical, connotations in this regard is unclear. Either way, the fig, the תאנה is intricately connected with this part of the story – Chava duping Adam into eating from the עץ הדעת.

The essence of the sin of the עץ הדעת was ingratitude.

Prior to being separated into two genders, Adam Harishon, a single hermaphrodite organism, was the most elevated of all creations. Following the physical separation into Adam and Chava, the function of each of the halves was also separated. It was Adam’s function to מפרנס, provide “sustenance” - for olam habah - for himself and Chava, by studying Torah. It was Chava’s function to bear and raise children, thus freeing Adam to study Torah.

When HKB”H created Chava by separating her from Adam, He created her in such a way that the process of childbirth would be immediate and painless. Instead of being grateful for this enormous ברכה, Chava exhibited ingratitude by trying (albeit duped by the yetzer harah) to create life on her own without the three partners essential for creating life, HKB”H a husband and his wife. Her resulting punishment was that she would forever suffer in childbirth, מידה כנגד מידה.

Adam exhibited ingratitude when he ate from the chametz bread made by Chava and the yetzer harah, from the fruit of the עץ הדעת. Instead, he should have been grateful for the enormous ברכה of parnasa that HKB”H automatically showered on him, both spiritual and physical. HKB”H created the עץ החיים, the Torah for Adam to “eat” from, to study – Adam was explicitly commanded to eat from the עץ החיים, as it says in the passuk מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל.  Adam was also showered with physical sustenance, לחם אבירים, the Mann that Am Yisrael ate in the Midbar, that could taste whatever you wanted it to taste like. Adam never had to toil for this food and was waited on by angels. Adam’s resulting punishment was that he would have to forever toil for his parnasa, both spiritual parnasa – that he would only acquire Torah through עמל and also physical parnasa - by the sweat of his brow, מידה כנגד מידה.

The נחש was also punished appropriately – by being ungrateful for his lot and craving Adam’s mate Chava and also by participating in duping Chava into grinding the fruit of the עץ הדעת into “dust” to create a chametz bread. The snake was punished that he would forever be hated by the female gender and that he would forever eat dust, מידה כנגד מידה.

The yetzer harah was punished appropriately for his ingratitude at being the highest angel with twelve wings. The angel called ס"מ was “demoted” to only having six wings, מידה כנגד מידה.

Even the tree, the עץ הדעת, exhibited ingratitude. Not content with HKB”H’s command to manifest with the branches tasting the same as the fruit, the tree sinned and subsequently became the cause of sin for others. It was also demoted, from a towering tree to a lowly grass, מידה כנגד מידה.

The sin of the עץ הדעת was ingratitude, from beginning to end, with all its participants.

The different opinions in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 70a) as to what the fruit of the עץ הדעת was, grapes, wheat or figs are all correct and refer to the different stages of the sin, the prologue (Chava giving Adam wine to drink), the actual sin (making a chametz bread from wheat) and the epilogue (Chava duping Adam to eat using a תאנה).

The cure and the כפרה for the sin of ingratitude is – gratitude.

When HKB”H offered the Torah to Am Yisrael, they did not ask “What is written in it”, like the other nations. They were simply grateful that HKB”H had offered it to them. Thus they atoned for the sin of the עץ הדעת and at Har Sinai the world reverted to its state before Adam and Chava sinned. However, this was short lived. Forty short days later we had a replay of the sin of the עץ הדעת. The yetzer harah duped Am Yisrael to thinking that Moshe had died on Har Sinai, they saw his coffin floating in the air. Instead of transcending this and being grateful to HKB”H for all He had given them, they created the עגל and woke early to dance and sing around it.

HKB”H then commanded Moshe to build a Mishkan and gave Am Yisrael the antidote to ingratitude for once and for all – the Shulchan and the Lechem Hapanim. The essence of the Lechem Hapanim is gratitude – איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו. Every facet of the Shulchan and the Lechem Hapanim has one and only one solitary purpose – reversing the sin of ingratitude of the עץ הדעת - teaching us how to live our lives in gratitude, how to smile at life and how to control our yetzer harah.

This profound principle and basis for the Lechem Hapanim is not intuitive and was discovered only through extensive limud and analysis of the psukkim. I would like to say that it was my חכמה that enabled me to discover it, but this is not true. I had very little to do with it, it was all HKB”H opening my eyes to the principles. My only part in the עשייה was hishtadlut. Perhaps because HKB”H saw my burning desire to study the Lechem Hapanim specifically, when nobody else had really ever devoted such a major portion of their time and energy into this specific subject, He had רחמים on me and revealed secrets of the Lechem Hapanim. חכמה had nothing to do with it, it is all a gift from HKB”H.

בעזרת ה' I hope and pray that the bracha of HaRav Druckman שליט"א in the sefer - that Meir Panim will be received בשמחה by לומדי תורה - will come true and that the precious gems that HKB”H allowed me to see will also be enjoyed by the rest of Am Yisrael and that it will play a small part in being mekarev the Geulah בבי"א.

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