Let’s start from the very beginning. What a very good place to start! This Shabbos, notably called Shabbos Bereishis is about new beginnings. Philosophers may have argued that if there are new beginnings (plural), there must have been a beginning before this new beginning. If so who created the first beginning? I prefer a simplistic approach and not go with the idea that some external force created this beautiful world.
This morning I woke up to a gorgeous picture that my son took of a magnificent sunrise on the Eastern shore of Maryland. He had texted me last night that he was going to have me in mind and wake up early to see the sunrise, my style. I am proud that my children have taken the same appreciation I have for the beauty that Hashem has created for us. This week is certainly a new beginning as we begin the reading of the Torah from the very beginning. It is also a personal new beginning as Torah Psych101 has completed one full year of podcasts.
What is always interesting to me is when people say כל התחלות קשות. All beginnings are hard. On some level it makes sense. A new relationship. A new job. A move to a new city. I believe it is how we frame our worldview.
When Hashem created the world, we never hear him say, “It was hard!” We constantly hear, after each day of creating something incredible like heaven, earth, grass, animals, Hashem says “It was good!” Hashem approaches everything as if It is all good! The exception is after the sixth day where he says “It was very good!” Obviously we are not on the same level as Hashem. But after going through the YomimNoraim and Sukkos and now Shabbos Bereishis, we are all capable of new beginnings and especially New Approaches. This is why we specifically refer to this Shabbos as Shabbos Bereishis. Next week we will not hear people referring to the week as Shabbos Noach. That is because this is the week we begin to make those positive changes because we are so much closer to Hashem after these days of Simcha.
Let’s take advantage and embrace the new beginnings that we have committed to during these times.
Why does Hashem ask questions that he already knows the answers to? He asks Adam Where are you? He asks Chava What did you do? He asks Kayin, where is your brother? I find myself asking my clients and sometimes my children questions that I already know the answer to. Why do I do that?
I believe that the answer to this question is the power of admission of guilt. Of course Hashem knew where everyone was and what they did wrong. However, it is far more powerful for the person who committed the wrong, to admit their wrongdoing than to have someone else point out their wrongdoing. Even when we hear the responses of Adam, Chava an Kayin, they attempt to defend their position and then they admit their guilt. This is a direct question from God. Think about how many excuses and defenses we come up with when we are confronted by our parents, spouses, children etc.
I want to focus on Chava’s response. When Hashem asks her what she has done she responds
הנחש השיאני ואכל
The snake tricked me. And I ate.
The OhrHachaim reiterates the idea mentioned above that of course Hashem knew what she did. However, the purpose of asking Chava was to allow her to confess.
כי בזה היתה ארוכה למחלתה
This will give her healing for the spiritual illness the she was dealing with as a result of what she did.
Had Chava’s response been in reverse, I believe the guilt would not have diminished. Meaning if she would have said, I ate but it was the snake that made me eat, it would not really have been a strong admission of her guilt. People should provide a reason and then come to the conclusion that even with all the rationale possible, they still made a mistake. Adam HaRishon gives the same type of response by first shifting blame to Chava and then ultimately taking responsibility. Interestingly, the only one of the trio (Adam, Chava, Snake) who was not asked for defense was the snake. The snake was just given his punishment without Hashem having to ask a question of what were you thinking? This is because the snake is not capable of guilt and admitting guilt. In fact, he has never learned this lesson as the snake, representative of the Satan or the Yetzer Hara, continues to try to trick us to this day.
OhrHachaim on 3:13