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   by Jacob Solomon

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For there is no man on earth that does good and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Yet Adam did not use that notion in his defense when called to account for eating from the forbidden fruit. On the contrary, after eating from the fruit, Adam and Eve realized they were naked. Rashi understands that word as meaning they failed to observe the one mitzvah placed in their hands - they were 'naked' in 'spiritual credit'.

Thus Adam became mortal. He was thrown out of Paradise and condemned to farm the land through hard labor (3:19). Superficially, that is the Fall of Man.

There is a mirror story later on. After Abraham succeeds in the supreme test of the Akeida, G-d's angelic representative tells him:

All the nations of the earth will be blessed in your children; because you obeyed my voice (22:18).

The story is a mirror image because Adam's eating from the Tree of Knowledge appears to be the Fall of Mankind. And the story relating Abraham's total and unquestioned submission to the word of G-d appears to be the Rise of Mankind.

However, there is a subtle difference between them, which illustrates true nature of sin and virtue by Torah tradition.

When Adam suffered 'Paradise Lost' he was indeed punished, but his life did not stop. G-d did not reject him. He made life very much harder for him. Life continued, under more difficult conditions.

But when Abraham merited, he became a different person. His being blessed was not merely: 'I (G-d) will bless those you bless and curse those you curse' - but much wider: 'All the nations of the earth will be blessed in your children'. It was the Original Blessing.

Thus Torah tradition rejects Original Sin, yet puts Original Blessing at its foundation.

For the Torah's standard word for sin is chet - literally means 'to miss the mark' (c.f. Judges 20:16). One who does that - as Adam did with fruit - has done precisely that. He did not reach up to what was required of him. He should not relate to it as the negative capital of failure but move forwards, do teshuva, do better next time - even under much poorer conditions if necessary. As stated in Kohelet: 'For there is no man on earth that does good and never sins' (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

By contrast good deeds are positive spiritual capital in their own right. And the legacy of the achievements of those living long ago is exemplified in G-d's turning to that Original Blessing even when His Patience was sorely tried over a long period by the wealthy and successful, but spiritually renegade Northern Kingdom after the death of the Prophet Elisha:

G-d showed them grace and compassion, and He turned towards them, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He would not destroy them, and He was yet to cast them away from His Presence (Kings II 13:23).

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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