Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Forbidden Fruit


“.. of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it” (Genesis 2:17)

From the beginning of creation man’s freedom of choice has been tested. Adam was told directly by G-d Himself not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, but with a little friendly persuasion, he chose to disobey Hashem’s Will. At first glance it appears that Adam’s choice was based solely on lack of self-discipline, but how could anyone in his right mind purposely disobey the Master of the Universe? Our Sages tell us that his motives were not as dishonorable as they appear. All he wanted was to get closer to Hashem and to understand the difference between good and evil so he would be better able to live his life as G-d intended. Unfortunately for future generations, it was the wrong decision.

One mistake, one bite of one little ‘apple’, and humankind is banished from the Garden of Eden. One erroneous judgment and man was condemned to toil by the “sweat of his face” for his daily bread, woman was decreed to endure pain with childbirth and to all human beings death now became a reality. Such a seemingly innocent action held the power to generate such guilt and caused the evil inclination to reside within mankind.

Someone pointed out a very interesting idea to me the other day. We all have access to a seemingly innocuous device, namely the computer with internet access, which also has the ability to destroy one’s whole future. Hashem gave man the intelligence to construct it but it takes aTzaddik (righteous individual) to be able to back away and refuse the dangerous enticement it holds. It is no coincidence that the first mainstream personal computer, and now a major icon worldwide, was made by a company with the name, none other than: Apple. The company logo portrays the fruit of temptation with a bite out of it! This is the same fruit the world recognizes as the fruit that Adam and Eve ate. (We know from our Sages it was not actually an apple they ate, nonetheless, this is the fruit that the general public accepts). All leading Rabbis of our generation have openly declared these electronic devices to be hazardous. Overflowing with knowledge, both beneficial and harmful, it lures us into believing that it is safe and useful.

Yes, it can be. Yet, I too, diminish its danger. I am only using it for work, to earn parnassa (income) and to spread emuna, to share Torah and do kiruv (Jewish Outreach). I set limits and try not to get carried away. I tell myself that a little news story and a short scrabble game can’t hurt. I rationalize that it keeps me in touch with what’s happening in the world and allows my ever aging mind the mental exercise it needs to stay sharp.

If it would end at that, there would be no problem. But who can truthfully say that they don’t spend a minute extra doing wasteful and pointless things. This in itself is “Bitul Torah” (neglect of Torah study). Couldn’t this time also be better spent working on interpersonal relationships rather than ignoring those we care about? Once we plunk ourselves down on the chair by the computer, the yetzer hara (evil inclination) plays havoc with our desires. Just a minute more on this site and a second more reading that and before we know it, we have wasted precious hours on this hypnotic invention. And that’s not to mention the lewd and sinful options available to those who show no restraint!

With the advent of Moshiach, prophecies tell of a fight between good and evil. It will be a spiritual war between belief in Hashem, our steadfastness of emuna on one side versus those diametrically opposed to this principle on the other. Like the snake in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden), the computer, internet and all the technology of this modern world are deadly temptations feeding the venomous enemy. Snakes symbolize so many negative traits such as immorality and deceit (by way of its forked tongue). We see this clearly as the internet is full of deception with people hiding behind aliases and false intentions.

Since nothing in the world is coincidence, I will leave you with something else to think about. The Tree of Knowledge contained good and evil. We humans are constantly confronted with the choice between the two. Everything that has a negative side also has a positive aspect. That is what free will is all about.

The gematria (numerical equivalent) of the word snake, nachash, (נחש‎), is 358.
The gematria of Moshiach (משיח) is also 358.
Chet is Hebrew for sin and the gematria of the letter chet is 8.
If we take the chet (ח) out of nachash, we will have the gematria 350, which is also the gematria for keren, קרן, the ram’s horn which will one day be blown to herald the arrival of Moshiach.
So if we work together to remove the sin, the chet, from our lives by making an effort to stay off the computer and internet as much as possible, we will help bring Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash, speedily, in the coming days, amen!

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