Don’t Worry, You’re Not Going to Die

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In the previous issue of The Shoemaker Report, in the
article entitled “The Primordial Criminal Mastermind” we explored the essence
of the sin of Adam ha-Rishon [אדם הראשון, Primordial Man] and discovered that he
relied on his “superior” intellectual prowess to try to out-think Hashem.
Instead of obeying the explicit command not to eat from the Tree of the
Knowledge of Good and Bad, he reasoned himself into a corner and concluded that
Hashem’s greatest delight would come only if he were to eat from the tree. In
this article, we will explore the other side of this foundational sin, i.e. the
sin of Adam’s wife. (Although she is not given the name Chavah until after the
sin, we will refer to her as such in this article for the sake of convenience.)

Chavah’s part in the story begins in Bereshit 3:1: וְהַנָּחָשׁ הָיָה עָרוּם מִכֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה
יְיָ אֱלֹקִים וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־הָאִשָּׁה אַף כִּי־אָמַר אֱלֹקִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ
מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן (And the
serpent [Nachash] was the most subtle/shrewd/clever living creature of
the field that Hashem G-d made, and he said to the woman, ‘Did G-d really say:
Don’t eat from any tree of the garden?’) It sounds like a fairly innocuous
question, but it’s not. We are warned in the narrative that the Nachash
is really shrewd, so we should read what he said many times until we
really get what was going on. First of all, the Nachash asked
incredulously, “Did G-d really say…?” In other words: Did G-d really say such
a crazy thing
? Of course, Hashem never said such a thing, but with those
words, the Nachash implanted confusion, doubt and fear into the mind of
Chavah. She must have thought something along these lines, “How can it be that
in this perfect and idyllic existence this creature doesn’t know what Hashem
said?” She was immediately put on the defensive and did her best to correct the
record (3:2-3): וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֶל־הַנָּחָשׁ
מִפְּרִי עֵץ־הַגָּן נֹאכֵל׃ וּמִפְּרִי הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר בְּתוֹךְ־הַגָּן אָמַר
אֱלֹקִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא תִגְּעוּ בּוֹ פֶּן־תְּמֻתוּן׃ (And the woman said to the Nachash,
We can eat from the fruit of every tree in the garden, but from the fruit of
the tree which is in the midst of the garden, G-d said, ‘Don’t eat from it and
don’t touch it, lest [pen] you die’).

We can start by identifying at least three errors on the
part of Chavah. First, she made a mistake by saying that Hashem commanded them
not to touch the tree, but Hashem did not prohibit them from touching the tree
(see 2:16-17). Second, she seriously downplayed the consequences of
eating. Hashem said (2:17): לֹא תֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ
כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכׇלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ מוֹת תָּמוּת (Do not eat from it, for the day of your eating from it you
will surely die [mot tamut]). Now, there is a big difference between mot
tamut
and pen. The word pen (lest) means, “for there’s a
possibility or concern that…” In other words, in Chavah’s mind, death was not
a guaranteed consequence; it was one possible outcome. Perhaps they would die;
perhaps not. Third, she responded by giving an answer to the Nachash in
her own words and then only afterwards did she attempt to quote Hashem. She
should have just quoted Hashem and kept quiet; better yet, not to have engaged
with the Nachash at all.

But it is the second reason above that opened the door for
the ‘kill shot’ from the Nachash. Since she did not understand the absolute
nature of the consequence of eating, the Nachash was able to get away
with saying (3:4): לֹא־מוֹת תְּמֻתוּן (You’re not going to die). The Nachash
gave a reason why Hashem didn’t want them to eat (3:5), a reason which
suggested that Hashem had an ulterior motive, i.e. jealousy, but that’s not
really the main point. The main point for her (and for us) was the simple statement,
“You’re not going to die.”

What did the Nachash mean by these few words? Chavah
expressed her concern that there might be a negative consequence, i.e., death,
if they ate. The Nachash then reassured her that no such consequence
would take place. Why not? Because, as people say today: “I got your back;
don’t worry about it.” This was the real deceit in the Nachash’s lie. It
wasn’t just that it accused Hashem of not having their best interests in mind,
or even that it accused Hashem of outright lying to them, but rather that it
would take care of any negative consequences and protect them from any harm. To
put it succinctly, the Nachash inserted itself into the intimate relationship
between G-d and the pinnacle of His creation, i.e. mankind, and conned them
into trusting it instead of their Creator.

All of this may be interesting, but what is its relevance
for us today? The truth is that we continue in this sin every time we fail to
put our trust [ביטחון, bitachon] in Hashem. Here are a few examples as fuel
for thought. How am I going to pay the bills if I quit my job and start my own
business? We can’t have children now because we don’t make enough money. How
are our children going to be allowed to attend school if they don’t “get the
jab”? We’ll be able to retire in just a few more years because then we’ll have
enough money in our pensions. I can’t make aliyah because… If the reader
is willing to hear truth in his heart, he will find his own area(s) to work on.

But what does David ha-Melech say (Tehillim 23:4)?
גַּם כִּי־אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת לֹא־אִירָא רָע
כִּי־אַתָּה עִמָּדִי שִׁבְטְךָ וּמִשְׁעַנְתֶּךָ הֵמָּה יְנַחֲמֻנִי (Though I walk through the valley of
death’s shadow I will not fear evil because You are with me; Your staff and
Your rod comfort me). To give an example here in Israel, ‘Even though I walk
through Shaar Shechem to take the most direct road from the north to the
Western Wall, I will not be afraid of anything or anyone…” This is bitachon.
To one degree or another, everything less is trusting in the Nachash,
which is ultimately a form of slavery because a lack of bitachon leads
to enslavement. It starts in the prison camps of our mind; it ends in the
prison camps of our overlords.

R’ Nachman expounds on the deeper significance of what actually
happened when Chavah accepted the advice of the Nachash (Likutei
Moharan 7:3
): וּכְשֶׁמְּקַבְּלִין עֵצוֹת מֵרְשָׁעִים
הוּא בְּחִינַת נִשּׂוּאִין בַּקְּלִפָּה. הַנָּחָשׁ הִשִּׁיאַנִי–לְשׁוֹן
נִשּׂוּאִין עֲצוֹת הַנָּחָשׁ שֶׁקִּבְּלָה הוּא בְּחִינַת נִשּׂוּאִין
וְעַל־יְדֵי נִשּׂוּאִין הֵטִיל בָּהּ זֻהֲמָא (And when we receive advice from the wicked it is an aspect of
marriage with the peel [klipah]: ‘The Nachash deceived me [hishi’ani]’—this
is the language of marriage [nisu’in]. The advice of the Nachash
that she accepted was an aspect of marriage and through this marriage it put
filth into her). When Chavah accepted the advice or counsel of the Nachash,
she (and ultimately, her descendants) became children of the Nachash,
not in a physical sense but in a spiritual sense. But R’ Nachman further
explains that all of this was reversed initially when Yisrael received the 613
commandments of the Torah at Mt. Sinai which resulted in a marriage from the
aspect of holiness [קדושה, kedushah]. But we became contaminated once again with
the sin of the golden calf. In the end, however, we will become purified
eternally, and this is the meaning of the prophecy in Hoshea 2:1 which
describes a time in the future when Yisrael will be called בְּנֵי קֵל־חָי (sons
of the living G-d), not in a physical sense, but in a spiritual sense. Because
we are children of whom we trust. If we trust the Nachash, then we are
its children (רַחֲמָנָא לִצְלַן); if we trust the living G-d, then we are His children. But why
is bitachon connected with being a child? It is because bitachon
is the most basic feature of a child’s relationship with its parents. A child
trusts its parents to provide it with everything it needs: food, clothing,
shelter, cleanliness, love, etc. It never worries about the present, and
certainly not about the future.

In summary, when we now put together the sin of Adam ha-Rishon
and the sin of Chavah, we are able to identify the two fundamental flaws
that we as a nation, and by extension, all of the nations of the world, must
rectify. Adam’s sin was a flaw in emunah. He didn’t really believe that
everything Hashem does is for our utmost good; therefore, he thought he knew
better and acted based on his finite (and hence, inherently flawed) logic. And
Chavah’s sin was a flaw in bitachon. She didn’t trust in Hashem; rather, she
trusted that the Nachash would take care of her. Simply put, emunah is mostly focused on the present and our response to what happens to
us, whereas bitachon is mostly concerned with the future and
what we have in our power to choose to do or not to do.

It falls upon us to
rectify these two flaws. They’re not beyond our reach. We just need to
prioritize them and not to pretend that they don’t exist; to be courageous
enough to face the truth and through the truth, do teshuvah out of love and
beg Hashem to help us eliminate these twin deficiencies and achieve the
conclusive victory over the Evil Inclination.

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