Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 23   No. 1

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Chaim Ezriel ben Yosef z"l
and Yisrael ben R' Aharon z"l
t.n.tz.v.h.

Parshas Bereishis

Choosing to Choose

"And G-d formed Adam, dust from the earth, and He breathed into his nostrils a Soul of life, and man became a living being " (2:7),

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One would think that Adam was so-called because he was made predominantly out of earth (adomoh) as described in the Pasuk. He was called 'Adam' because he was basically an earthly creature, attracted to the mundane - a trait which he shared with the rest of the animal world. Hence G-d saw fit to breathe into him a Neshamah, as we will explain shortly.

Yet the Medrash says the opposite. The Medrash relates how, after Adam had named each and every animal based on its inner characteristics, G-d asked him what his own name would be. "Adam", came the reply - "Adameh le'Elyon", he explained. I will resemble the High One!'

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Adam, the most sophisticated and intelligent of all Hashem's creations (and we are speaking about him on the day he was created), knew full-well that by virtue of his initial make-up, he was the most earthly of all the creations. Yet he realized that once G-d had breathed into him a Divine Soul (Part of G-d Himself, as the Ramban explains quoting the Zohar), he had the potential to elevate his earthly body and to transform it into an angel-like being - one that resembles the G-d of which his Neshamah is part, by utilizing the senses which form his personality in the service of G-d and by exercising control over them in a way that animals are incapable of doing. Moreover, he had been blessed with the power of speech (Unklus translates "a living being" as one that has the ability to speak), over and above the animals, to help him achieve this aim. The choice lay with him - 'adamah' or 'adameh'!

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His first (and at that stage, only) choice was whether or not to eat the one fruit that had been forbidden to him. Choosing to follow G-d's command and not eating it would have demonstrated his willingness to live without ever getting to know the meaning of evil, with the result that he would never have experienced the least attraction to it and he would never have sinned. In this way, he would have indeed been likened to His Creator, like whom he would therefore have lived forever.

*

Having decided to taste evil and subsequently to grapple with it - in his mistaken belief that this was a greater Kidush Hashem - he had to die. Because, as G-d told him "You are dust! (You have chosen the first interpretation of 'Adam') and (consequently) to dust you shall return!"

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The Myth of Evolution

Ibid.

The Torah clearly indicates that, unlike animals, whose soul of life is not mentioned in the Torah, G-d breathed a Soul of Life (and breath is part and parcel of the person who breathes).

The Ramban resumes that the demons, which were created on Friday just before the advent of Shabbos, were created out of the two least physical elements - wind and fire, which explain why they are invisible like angels.

It is therefore fair to assume that the soul of the animals too, consists of one or both of these elements. Indeed, he ascribes the ability of birds to fly to the fact that a large proportion of their make-up consists of wind. But these are physical creations, as are earth and water, the two other elements from which everything in the world was formed.

The one exception is Adam's Soul, which the Torah describes as an independent creation, one that is totally spiritual - with no physical components.components

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According to the I'bn Ezra, living man actually comprises three souls - a soul of growth, which allows him to breath and to grow like plants; a soul of life, which, like animals, enables him to walk and which stimulates his emotions, and the Neshamah, which empowers him to speak and to strive to overcome his Yeitzer-ha'Ra and to strive to emulate his Creator, as we explained above, all of which animals are incapable of doing. The Ramban however, maintains that G-d breathed only one Soul into Adam, as the Pasuk suggests, but that that one Soul was made up of three parts.

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Man's Neshamah is supernatural, as we explained earlier, so we are left with no way of reconciling the Creation with the theory of evolution. If man evolved from animals, how and at which point did the Neshamah, which is alien to animals, enter into him? One would be hard put to reconcile these two diametrically-opposed concepts - a supernatural Soul and evolution. One additional proof of the mythical character of evolution lies in the supreme wisdom with which he was endowed already on the day that he was created, as we mentioned above.

Interestingly, all this points to the fact that, not only did man not evolve with the passing of time, but that the opposite is true. Indeed, he is the only creation that Chazal describe as 'formed by the Hands of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu' (as opposed to 'by His command'), implying that he was a super-intelligent being when created, and, if anything, his intelligence waned with the passing of time. In which case, he didn't evolve, he 'devolved'!

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Having ascertained that man consists of a physical body and a Spiritual Soul, it stands to reason that the latter, like the former, needs to be fed (See following article). However, whereas the former subsists on material food, the latter requires spiritual food - Torah and good deeds, and it is the combination of the two requirements that keep body and Soul alive and healthy.

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It is also interesting that although man's body lies under the jurisdiction of Hashem, Who has undertaken to see to its well-being and to provide it with its needs, sustaining his Neshamah lies with him (man). Hence man must Daven for all his physical and material needs, but must work hard to keep his Neshamah in good shape.

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Sustaining the Neshamah

Everybody understands the importance of sustaining the body and keeping it in good health. Not so the Neshamah, of which, thanks to the illusionary tactics of the Yeitzer-ha'Ra, many people are blissfully unaware. And it is to remind us of the Neshamah's existence and need to be sustained that the Gemara in Shabbos (Daf 152b), commenting on the Pasuk in Koheles (12) " the Soul shall return to the G-d who gave it", writes 'Give it back to Him - pure, just as He gave it to you' (reminiscent of the B'rachah that we recite every morning "My G-d, the Neshanmah that You gave to me is pure ").

And the Gemara goes on to illustrate this with the following Mashal, based on the interpretation of the Maharsha: A king once lent various items of royal attire to his servants, for an unspecified period of time. The wise servants wore them only on special occasions, and when not in use, they made a point of keeping them neatly stacked in a box, whereas the foolish ones wore them constantly, and carelessly left them lying around in the open, allowing the grime and dirt to accumulate.

When the order to return the garments was issued, the wise servants returned them clean and pressed, the foolish servants returned them soiled.

The king joyfully greeted the wise servants. The garments were returned to their place in the royal wardrobe, and they were sent home (to Gan Eden) in peace. But he was angry with his foolish servants. Their garments He sent to the laundry and they were incarcerated in jail (Gehinom).

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The Formation of Adam

(One of a number of versions presented by the Seider ha'Doros)

According to the Medrash Avkir, Adam was the first creation. However, in order to disillusion those who might believe that he was a partner in the creation, G-d did not breathe a Neshamah into him until all His other creations were finished.

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Hour 1, Hashem gathered the dust with which to form him.
Hour 2. He formed his body.
Hour 3. He fashioned his limbs.
Hour 4. He breathed Neshamah (part of Himself) into him.
Hour 5. He completed him.
Hour 6. Adam arose and named all the animals.
Hour 7. Hashem formed woman and gave her to him as a wife.
Hour 8. Two (Adam & Chavah) went on to the bed and four descended (Kayin & Hevel). According to others, seven descended (Adam & Chavah, Kayin and a twin-sister, and Hevel and two twin-sisters).
Hour 9. Hashem commanded Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.
Hour 10. Adam is convinced by his wife to eat from the forbidden fruit.
Hour 11. Adam is judged and is sentenced to death.
Hour 12. He is banished from Gan Eden.

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Feeding the Neshamah

We explained earlier that the Neshamah, like the Guf, needs to be fed, albeit with a different kind of food.

The truth of the matter is that, the Neshamah, which is part of G-d Himself, is self-sustaining, and it is we who need to feed it; much in the same way as, in connection with the Korban Tamid, the Torah writes "My Korban, My bread", even though it is obvious that Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu does not need our bread, and it is we who go through the motions of sustaining Him, Kevayachol, in order to earn a reward.

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This is best illustrated in the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos. The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (4:22) teaches us that, on the one hand, 'one hour of pleasure in the World to Come is worth more than all the pleasures in this world together, and on the other, that one hour of Teshuvah and good deeds in this world is worth more that the whole of the World to Come!'

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This teaches us the extent of Rabbi Dessler's famous principle of giving as opposed to receiving. The extreme pleasure that awaits us in the World to Come is unfathomable to us here in this world; yet it is a world of receiving, and as such, it is outweighed by far by the world of giving, where we feed the Neshamah with teshuvah and ma'asim tovim, even for just one hour.

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