Friday, May 05, 2006

Parshas Acharei Mos/Kedoshim

In parshas Kedoshim we find the mitzvah of orlah. Essentially, the first 3 years of a tree's life we do not eat its fruit (only in Eretz Yisrael); in the 4th we it may be eaten, but only in Yerushalayim, and from year 5 and on, it's all gravy baby. It is a pretty well-known idea that the mitzvah of orlah is being mesakayn (is fixing) the sin of Adam in Gan Eden. Essentially, Adam's sin was one of self-control. He had thousands of trees that he could eat from, and only one that he couldn't eat from. He was lacking the self-control to withstand the urges to eat the fruit of the Etz haDaas, and thus we have the first sin. Therefore, as a symbolic rectification, we wait before eating the fruits of a tree. But - that being said, why do we wait 3 years? Why not just 1 month or 1 year?

The pasuk by the sin of Adam states that:

וַיְצַו יְקוָק אֱלהִים עַל הָאָדָם לֵאמר מִכּל עֵץ הַגָּן אָכל תּאכֵל

"Gd commanded man saying "from all of the trees of the garden you may surely eat."

Gd then goes on, after this verse, to warn Adam against eating from the Tree of Knowledge. The Ohr haChaim haKadosh asks: How can Gd tell man that he can eat from ALL of the trees, if there was 1 tree he couldn't eat from?! The word "ALL" fundamentally means that it is not lacking. Therefore, since there was a tree in the world that man couldn't eat from, the Torah's language is faulty. What's pshat? He answers that true, right now the tree was forbidden to eat. However, once Shabbos came, the tree was no longer going to be forbidden to him, and there would've been no problem eating from it. So when the Torah uses the term "all", it is referring to Shabbos, while the prohibition of eating from the tree was before Shabbos.

The Sefer Sifsei Kohen in Parshas Emor discusses exactly what Hashem's schedule was on the day he created man (a Friday). He breaks it down hour by hour. Without going into each hour (ex. Gd molded the dirt in this hour, mixed it with water in this hour, etc.) man was created in the 9th hour. Shabbos starts in the 12th hour (shaos zmanios) on Friday. Therefore, man was created 3 hours before Shabbos started. As mentioned before, the Etz haDaas was only assur (according tot he Ohr haChaim haKadosh) before Shabbos, not on shabbos. Therefore, Adam only had to wait 3 hours and then the tree would've been permitted to him!! Therefore, the mitzvah of orlah is 3 years - one for each hour that Adam only would've needed to wait to eat from the Etz haDaas.

Clearly I am in no position to judge Adam haRishon, but basically, if he would've thought about his actions and used a little more self-control, he could've eaten from the Tree of Knowledge in 3 hours. The self-control aspect is not for now (needless to say, it is essential). However, the "thinking before we do things" aspect should be touched on briefly. We live in a day now where if we want something, we get it immediately. Want to know what the score of the Orioles score is?...just log onto and get it. Want to know what a word means?! If you turn on the TV, we get news as it unfolds. The closest thing I have to waiting to hear about something is not finding out Friday night if the O's won, but waiting until Shabbos morning (and waking my wife up to tell her) to read it in the newspaper. Everything is NOW NOW NOW. It's to the point where I can find out what's going on the world, check my email, send out emails, and read blogs without even thinking once about it. These are relatively trivial things. There are, however, many more things that we do in life that are much more meaningful. It's very important not to let the tendency to do things without thinking affect those decisions that mean alot. Should the thought process as to whether or not to put on Tefillin in the morning be as simple as the thought process to go check the news? Absolutely not; however, easier said than done. Let's learn from Adam haRishon that a little thought before action, combined with a little self-control (it was 3 hours!!) can have long lasting implications for the good or for the bad.


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