BEREISHIS (Genesis, 1:1-6:8) — “‘Big Mac’ Strikes Out In The Garden of Eden”

My son showed me an article last week (Total Baseball Weekly — October 18-24, 2000 — no link available) about some baseball fans that approached home run superstar Mark McGuire and asked him for his autograph.  Big Mac “graciously” offered to give his autograph to whoever would be kind enough to go to Starbucks and fetch him a cup of coffee.

Amazing.  Here is a man, a very talented man, who is a multimillionaire only by virtue of the fact that fans pay big money to watch him hit home runs.  Without his fans footing the bill, he would have to go out and get a real job and buy his own coffee.  Here is a man who has a lot to learn about appreciation.

Too bad.  He should have read this week’s Torah Portion.

In this week’s Torah reading, we learn about the creation of the world.  G-d, in His infinite kindness, created a world that is full of opportunities for man to grow spiritually.  After fully stocking the planet with everything a person could need, G-d welcomed Adam, the earth’s Guest of Honor, to the Garden of Eden on Friday afternoon.  Adam’s job in the Garden was “to work it, and to guard it.” (Genesis, 2:15)

He was to spend his time in Torah study and spiritual pursuits, while all of his material needs would be provided in the Garden.

There was one problem.  Adam was alone.  He had no partner in the Garden.   He had no one to inspire and encourage him; no one with whom to share life’s experiences and accomplishments.

G-d said, “It is not good for man to be alone.  I will make a compatible helper for him.” (2:18)

Now Adam had a partner.  Together they would serve G-d in the Garden and build a brave new world.  They would live forever in sublime holiness in the Garden of Eden.


It was a busy Friday afternoon.  By the time Shabbos rolled around, the First Couple found themselves evicted from Eden.  What went wrong?  Why were they expelled?

The obvious answer might seem to be that they were told to leave the Garden because they ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  (Just for the record, I don’t know of any sources in rabbinic literature that indicate that the fruit was an apple.  Suggested candidates include figs and even wheat!  There is a source in the Talmud that maintains that there is only one fruit that has led and continues to lead people to use such poor judgment — the grape!)

Many commentaries discuss the sin that Adam and Eve committed and conclude that the issue of why they did what they did is very complex.

Rashi in his commentary points outs a sin committed by Adam that was totally separate from the sin of eating the fruit.  G-d confronted Adam with his crime.  Rather than accepting responsibility for his actions, Adam tried to shift the blame.  And look Whom he tried to blame!:

The woman THAT YOU GAVE to be with me — she gave me what I ate from the tree.” (3:12)

It’s not only that Adam was not prepared to admit that he was wrong.  He didn’t stop at putting the blame on just his wife, he blamed G-d Himself!  “The woman THAT YOU GAVE  . . . !!! If YOU hadn’t created Eve, who gave me the fruit, I wouldn’t be in this mess right now!”

Adam’s sin?  Lack of “Hakoras Hatov” – appreciation — for G-d’s kindness and generosity.  Rather than thanking G-d for providing him with a life’s partner, with a mother for his children, with a sounding board for life’s difficult decisions, Adam forgot about G-d’s kindness and was critical.

Adam’s lack of appreciation was not quickly forgotten.  The Tower of Babel was constructed almost two thousand years later.  The Torah refers to that generation as “the children of ADAM,” (Genesis, 10:5) because they acted like Adam.  Adam didn’t show his appreciation of G-d’s gift of a wife, and his descendants forgot G-d’s kindness in saving their ancestors, (and THEM!) from the Flood.

One of the primary purposes of the entire Book of Genesis is to properly teach us about the importance of positive character traits.  Hakoras Hatov, appreciation, is more than just a nice thing; it is a moral imperative! Had Adam admitted his sin and not tried to blame G-d for his own poor judgment, perhaps he might have been permitted to stay in the Garden.  But there was no room in the Garden of Eden for ingrates!

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How are we when it comes to expressing gratitude? Are we sufficiently appreciative of G-d’s gifts, even when things don’t go as well as we would hope?  How about our family members and our friends and neighbors? Do we make sure they know that we recognize the favors, large and small, that they do for us?

Saying thank you is not just polite, it is an obligation.  Let’s remember to acknowledge what others do for us — in the ball game of life, it’s how we avoid striking out.

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

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From the Archives

“Let the SON Shine” (2016)

A baby boy is born.

His proud and hopeful parents bring him to the synagogue on the eighth day of his life, whereupon he is surgically and spiritually ushered into the Covenant of Abraham.

A prayer is recited “…May this little one become great. Just as he as entered the Covenant, so too may he enter into the Torah, the Chuppah (marriage canopy) and good deeds.” 

Big plans for this little guy. “May this little one (Kattan in Hebrew) become great (Gadol in Hebrew, literally big).”

A prayer that the Kattan will become Gadol, the little one will grow to become big.  We look forward to seeing this little 6-pounder turn into a strapping 6-footer.

Being a Mohel, I get to eat a lot of bagels & lox, and hear a lot of speeches.  I heard a beautiful explanation of this prayer …

Read more.

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“How Many G-Ds Does It Take To Make A World?” (2009)

Moses was not happy.  There he was, taking dictation from the Author of the Torah, writing each word per G-d’s instructions.  They were up to Genesis, 1:21.  G-d told him to write, ” . . . and G-d said, let Us make man in Our image . . .”

.. OUR image . . . ???

Moses was troubled by G-d referring to Himself in plural.  A major tenet of the Jewish faith is that there is only one G-d, who has no partners.  “Master of the World!  You are giving an opening to heretics!”…

Read more.

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“Be a World Builder” (2008)

…G-d wanted Israel to be His partner in Creation.  But how could this be done?  G-d brought forth all His miraculous powers of creation in bringing the world into being.  What did we do?  Nothing! …

Read more.

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“Kindness, Torah-Style” (2006)

…  Was it really such a charitable act for G-d to feed Adam and Eve?  After all, He created them!  Doesn’t a parent feed and clothe and educate his child, and help him to become self-sufficient?

It was, in a sense, in G-d’s “best interest” to take care of Adam and Eve…

Read more.

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 “The Right Tools” (2005)

It is axiomatic that the right tools make the job much easier to do.  Did you ever try to use a flat screwdriver on a Philips-head screw because you didn’t have what you needed?   It just doesn’t work right.

Before you start a job, it is very important to get what you need.  Yes, you can improvise, and sometimes it will come out ok.  However, the extra time you take to make a quick trip to the hardware store will yield worthwhile dividends…

Go out there and conquer the world.  Negotiate that contract!  Build that better mousetrap!  Heal that patient!  Hit that grand slam home run!

But before you do, make sure you are prepared.  Do your homework.  Sterilize your surgical instruments.  Go to spring training.

One more thing …

Read more.

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“The Loch Ness Succah” (2003)

… A nice, upbeat prayer — a request that in the coming year, G-d will finally send the Messiah, ushering in a utopian era of world peace and mutual understanding.  A time when, as Isaiah says, swords will be made into plowshares, and war will be a defunct concept found only in history books.

But what if the Messiah doesn’t come?  What if next year isn’t perfect?  Would it not be appropriate to add a caveat to the above prayer?  How about something like, “Okay, G-d, I hope you send the Messiah.  But, if You decide not to, may it be Your will that my family all be together in good health to celebrate Sukkos together.”

Might it not make sense to have a “back-up plan”?  Why should we go for broke? …

Read more.

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“The Evolutionary War” (2002) 

Who’s right, scientists or the Torah?  On Rosh Hashanah, we began the year 5763. How can we believe that the world is less than six thousand years old when the scientific evidence indicates that it is BILLIONS of years old?

What about fossils?  What about carbon dating?  Can we, as intelligent people, really believe the Adam & Eve story?  What about dinosaurs?  What about all of the evidence of various life forms, leading to the advanced stage of development at which we now stand?  How can we believe in the Garden of Eden instead of Jurassic Park? …

Read more.

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“Cry ‘Uncle'” (2001)

… What could have caused such strife, such animosity that would lead Cain to destroy one seventh of the human race? …

Read more.

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 “‘Big Mac’ Strikes Out In the Garden of Eden” (2000)

… My son showed me an article last week (Total Baseball Weekly — October 18-24, 2000 — no link available) about some baseball fans that approached home run superstar Mark McGuire and asked him for his autograph.  Big Mac “graciously” offered to give his autograph to whomever would be kind enough to go to Starbucks and fetch him a cup of coffee.

…  Without his fans footing the bill, he would have to go out and get a real job and buy his own coffee.  Here is a man who has a lot to learn about appreciation.

Too bad.  He should have read this week’s Torah Portion …

Read more.

This is the weekly message at TorahTalk.org. Copyright © 2000-2016 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (Brisrabbi.com) and chaplain in Monsey, New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

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Published in: on October 27, 2000 at 1:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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