Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The importance of accurately reporting the halacha: Who falsely claimed that even touching the Tree of Knowledge was prohibited- Adam or Eve?

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky (Emes L'Yaakov Bereishis 3:3) Eve told the Serpent that G-d had said not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge and not to touch it

Rashi explained, Eve added to G-d's prohibition of not eating from the Tree of Knowledge and said He also prohibited from touching it. Because this assertion was false it caused damage... because the Serpent pushed Eve into the Tree of Knowledge and when he showed her that she was not harmed by touching it, he said, Just like you didn't die by touching it you will not die by eating it.

This needs further explanation. Because it is clear that Eve did not add to G-d's command on her own. Because if she had it makes no sense that the Serpent was able to persuade her by pushing her. Because if she had originated the addition then she would also know that G-d had not prohibited touching the Tree of Knowledge.

Therefore the correct understanding is that which is found in Avos D'Rabbi Nossan (1:35) that Adam was the one who made up this protective prohibition on his own. "Adam did not want to tell Eve exactly what G-d had said to him. Rather he added an additional restriction to what G-d had said...That is because he wanted to protect himself and Eve from the Tree - even to the degree of merely touching it."

In other words Adam failed to tell Eve that not touching it was his own prohibition - not G-d's. Consequently Eve that not touching and not eating the Tree of Knowledge were both G-d's prohibitions. Therefore when the Serpent pushed her into the Tree of Knowledge and she realized nothing happened when transgressing what she thought was G-d's prohibition - she was ready to accept the claim of the Serpent that she would not die by eating it. 

Consequently the sin of Adam was not in his making of an additional prohibition beyond that which G-d had said. In fact the opposite is true. It was in fact a good idea to make an additional prohibition just as we find that our Sages made additional protective decrees for many Torah prohibitions.

The problem was the fact that Adam failed to tell Eve what G-d had actually prohibited and what he had added himself as a protective measure. Eve's serious mistake followed from this.

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