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Aspaqlaria: Parshas Bereishis 5756

The language that the Chumash uses to retell the story of the Tree of Knowledge is unique in a couple of ways. The doubling of the name "Hashem Elokim" used to address the Almighty, is used here repeatedly, and once when Moshe addresses Paroah, and at no other place in Chumash. What is the significance of using both names, consistently using seemingly superfluous words, when one alone would be sufficient.

The pasuk says, "The woman [Chava] said 'the snake made me err hisi'ani, and I ate it.'" Hisi'ani, is hiph'il (causative conjugation) of nasah, to carry. This is the only context in Chumash where find this word used in a non-physical sense (although it is found in the latter Nevi'im and in Tehillim). Why isn't a more straightforward expression used?

What was the nature of man before eating from the Tree of Knowledge? We know that Adam had changed, for the pasuk says (Bireishis 3:7) "The eyes of the two of them [Adam and Chava] were opened, and the knew they were naked." Rashi there comments that the "opening of the eyes" should be taken to mean that they suddenly realized something new. The Orach Chaim explains that it is not that didn't know they were naked until now, but rather, they saw nothing wrong about it.

On the other hand, the concept of choice between right and wrong seems to be fundamental to man's role in serving his Creator. The Rambam (Hilchos Teshuvah Ch. 5) writes that man has free will only so that there is value to a good deed. Hashem only values our service because it comes from us, and not because of some law of nature. The ability to choose is fundamental to our purpose. But without knowledge of good or evil, how could Adam make a choice?

In Moreh HaNevuchim, the Rambam says that man always had free will, this is the meaning of being created "in the image of G-d". However, before eating the fruit the challenge in Adam's existence was to choose between truth and falsehood. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil reduced him to working within the paradigm of good vs. evil.

R. Eliahu Dessler writes that the difference between before and after man's sin was the internalization of the Evil Inclination. Before eating from the tree, Chava had to be convinced by a snake to disobey G-d, and Adam in turn had to be convinced by Chava, neither would have sinned on their own. The snake, identified with the Satan, was instead of their evil inclination.

These two ideas merge quite beautifully. Before eating the fruit, man had no Evil Inclination. He had no motivation to sin. It was only the intervention of an outside force that lead him to sin. It was, therefor, the task of this outsider to convince man that what is in reality evil, is good. Then, man's job would be to ascertain the truth. He only had a desire to do good, but that doesn't mean he always knew what good was. This is the Rambam's model of truth vs. falsehood.

The snake did not simply mislead Chava the same way one who causes the masses today would. Today the mis-leader has help, everyone has some internal inclination to do what is wrong. Chavah did not yet have one.

For this reason, the Torah didn't just use the word "hit'ah" - "made me err", or "hechta" - "made me sin". The word used is "hisi'ani", "he made me get carried". Just as the object getting carried is moving on the volition of the carrier, here too, the jump from good to evil was that of the snake. The language is unique because the case was unique.

This idea of the difference between pre-sin and post-sin Adam might also explain why we find Hashem referred to as Hashem-Elokim.

Rav S. R. Hirsch relates the word "shem", name, with the word "sham", there, since both have the same spelling, shin mem. Both are used to reference to an object. Thus, he translates, "shem" as not only name, but also perception. When we talk about the "Name of G-d", we mean our perceptions of Him.

Since it is impossible for man to comprehend G-dliness, when we talk about G-d's attributes we can only talk about our perception of them (Moreh HaNivuchim 1:58, Kuzari 2:2 a.e.). When we talk about His Mercy, Wrath, Justice, we really mean the Hashem's behavior looks similar to what we would do when we fell mercy, anger, just, etc... (Rambam Yisodei HaTorah 1:11) In reality all of G-d's actions are a product of His Goodness. (Emunos ViDeios 3:0)

The name "Hashem" is used in the Thirteen Divine Attributes (Sh'mos 34:6). It is used to refer to the Almighty when He is showing Divine Mercy. The name "Elokim" is an expression of Divine Justice (Rashi).

In reality, though, G-d does not change moods or attitudes. He is timeless, and therefor can not be subject to change. He is also above such human frailties as emotions. This is because, as Rabbiner Hirsch and the Rambam suggest, these names describe how we perceive Hashem, not His unknowable reality.

We teach our children that Hashem is in heaven, and at the same time that He is everywhere. That He is remote and unreachable, and also that He is always nearby, available when we need Him. Imminent and yet Transcendent. If either sentence would be presented to most of us separately, would agree to either. This dichotomy is not G-d's but man's. He is near us, for we have a spark of the divine. Yet he is also remote, for we have an inclination to serve our baser selves.

At a time when man has no internalized evil, he can understand the unity of Hashem's actions. When Adam and Chava ate the fruit, they diminished in their perception of G-d. Once they had a conflict of desires, the idea of a Being who was totally one of purpose was forever closed to them.

The name of G-d understandable by pre-sin Adam was Hashem-Elokim, a unified view. Adam and Chavah could understand to a greater extent than we can that the apparent contradictions: justice vs. mercy, imminence vs. transcendence, are just that, apparent.

When the day comes that the world will once again be unified to one purpose, "and all the children of the flesh will call in your name" as we say in Aleinu, we are promised a restoration of this closer relationship with Hashem. "And Hashem will be accepted as King over all the earth; on that day Hashem will be One, and His Name will be one."

© 1995 The AishDas Society