happily lacking

על גחנך תלך ועפר תאכל כל ימי חייך וגו' בעצבון תאכלנה כל ימי חייך וגו' בזעת אפיך תאכל לחם (ג:יד-יט

You shall walk on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life… with toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life… With the sweat of your face you shall eat bread (3:14-19)

 If someone would ask you, “Who is the villain in the story of the Eitz Hadaas- Adam or the nachash?” I assume that 9 out of 10 would answer the nachash. The logic is simple: Adam would never have transgressed if not for the nachash inciting Chava! The nachash came with the specific intention of causing them to sin, also known as a חוטא ומחטיא/ chotei umachtei. It is one thing if a person can’t control himself and “falls”, but it is a completely different story when one purposely causes others to sin as well.

What is troubling is that one would expect that their respective punishments would properly reflect whose sin was worse. The Torah tells us that Adam is told that from now on, if he wants food, he will have to “shvitz” for it; it will no longer come easily. If he chooses not to work, he may not even have what to eat, because it is only through the “sweat of the brow” that he will obtain his bread. The nachash on the other hand seems to have gotten off quite easily. על גחנך תלך ועפר תאכל כל ימי חייך "You will walk on your stomach, eating dust all the days of your life". Sure, it is not fine cuisine, and perhaps even boring, but one would think that it is a tremendous brachah to know that food is always available 24/7. Every other creature in the universe, including man, needs to scrounge for food, yet the nachash, for deceiving Chava, hits the jackpot! From now on, no more worries, it’s all there.

The Sfas Emes offers the following answer which is a tremendous yesod for us to live with. By way of a mashal, this is explained as follows. A young adult is off to Eretz Yisroel to pursue a higher level of ruchniyus and Torah. The family comes to the airport for the great send-off. Of course, this child will need a source of money whilst abroad. Assuming that the parents are taking care of this, there are different options how to go about it. They can set up an account for the child where there will be an occasional deposit when necessary. Any time the child needs, a phone call can be made to the parents to make sure that there are funds available etc. Another way to make sure the parent can make sure that the child has money is by giving the child a credit card that can be swiped whenever the child wants. This way, a phone call does not even need to be made. The child with the credit card may even be the envy of his peers, however, if the parents want to hear from their child, the credit card is most definitely not the way to go. Why would the child call if he already has whatever he needs? Of course, if the parents want to keep up with their child, by not giving unlimited access to funds they are ensuring that they will receive phone calls on a regular basis.

The Sfas Emes explains that by giving the nachash constant food, HaShem was disassociating Himself permanently from the nachash, telling him, "Goodbye, snake. We have nothing to do with each other from now on. You always have your food; you never have to keep in touch anymore.” On the other hand, Adam is told that from now on, Man will have “needs”. Why? We are created this way because HaShem wants us to touch base with Him from time to time. HaShem wants us to make Him a part of our lives. This is why when reciting the brachah of בורא נפשות רבות, we also include the word וחסרונן- with all their needs thus thanking HaShem for the things that we are missing as well.

With this, we can also understand the usage of the name of HaShem in the brachos which Yitzchak Avinu gave. In the brachos of ויתן לך which Yitzchak Avinu gave to Yaakov, ויתן־לך האלקים מטל השמים ומשמני הארץ ורב דגן ותירש, Yitzchak Avinu uses the name of HaShem, Elokim, which refers to midas hadin. Whereas in Eisav’s bracha, הנה משמני הארץ יהיה מושבך ומטל השמים מעל, there is no mention of this midas hadin. One would think that at a time when brachos are being doled out in such a plentiful manner, the name Hashem which refers to rachamim would have been used. Rashi explains that for Yaakov, there are indeed strings attached; his relationship necessitates that he must deserve the bracha. There is a lack of something, which requires behaving in a certain manner and davening, and only then, deserving of the bracha. All of this, why? Because yearns our relationship with Him. For Yaakov and all of HaShem’s kinderlach, HaShem desires our tefillos. He is the Tatteh in himmel that craves to hear His kinderlach calling out to Him, and rejoices like a parent does when the phone call is made. However, Eisav will receive His bracha regardless. In fact, HaShem’s name is not even mentioned in the bracha at all, as if to say, “I want nothing to do with this one.” HaShem has no interest in an Eisav. Take it all without any stipulations, and leave.

It is true that in life, everyone has their own unique peckel, completely full of things that are lacking. What is the same for all is that our “needs” are opportunities to pick up that phone and dial the Aibeshter. It’s a local call and the phone line is never ever busy.


Good Shabbos, מרדכי אפפעל