D'vrei Torah by Rabbi Ellie Shemtov
It's a Simple Program for Complicated People
Life is complicated. If you didn’t believe that before, I’m guessing recent world events have convinced you otherwise. But, as complicated as life tends to be, we humans have a way of adding to that complication. We think we are satisfied but then someone offers to sell us the Brooklyn Bridge and all hell breaks loose.
As we begin our Torah reading cycle one more time, we read yet again the story of creation. God creates the world, including man and woman—Adam and Eve. It’s a simple idea; seemingly simple for God to execute and simply miraculous for us humans. God even gives Adam a simple instruction about life in the garden of Eden:
מִכֹּ֥ל עֵץ־הַגָּ֖ן אָכֹ֥ל תֹּאכֵֽל: וּמֵעֵ֗ץ הַדַּ֨עַת֙ ט֣וֹב וָרָ֔ע לֹ֥א תֹאכַ֖ל מִמֶּ֑נּוּ כִּ֗י בְּי֛וֹם אֲכָלְךָ֥ מִמֶּ֖נּוּ מ֥וֹת תָּמֽוּת:
Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.” (Gen. 2:16).
Commentators interpret this to mean that eating from the tree wouldn’t immediately result in death but rather Adam and Eve would become mortal and eventually die. But then walks in the serpent who makes a Brooklyn Bridge pitch to Eve. The serpent dismisses her fears and promises oh so convincingly that eating the fruit of the tree would not result in death but would allow Eve to become like a divine being –like God. Eve and then Adam take the bait and the rest is history.
God’s simple and simply beautiful creation almost immediately spawns problematic beings. Right off the bat the Torah makes clear the essence of being human – we are complicated. So, there you have it—creation, a simple program for complicated people.