Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Why were Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden of Eden? Every kindergartener will answer: because they ate from the Tree of Knowledge! But it could be that this answer is not really correct. They were not expelled because they made a mistake and ate, but because of their reaction after the mistake. They could have admitted, apologized, and changed, but instead Adam told God: “The woman whom you gave to be with me – she gave me from the tree and I ate.” Adam did not take responsibility, but rather implicated Eve and, by extension, the God who created her. Instead of being thankful for the creation, the Garden of Eden, and his wife, Adam complained. Rashi summarizes Adam’s response with “here he showed his ingratitude.” This is the reason that we were expelled from the Garden of Eden: lack of gratitude.
The rectification of the sin of primordial man is to be full of gratitude, to fill our lives with thanks. Research demonstrates the advantages of positive psychology, for the constant search after the good in others and in ourselves, in our belief in the “the gratitude muscle.” Psychologist Miriam Avneri-Cohen once wrote: “If we were happy with what we have as much as we are sad with what we don’t have, we would probably be much happier.”
Parashat Bereishit is an opportunity to focus on where we were mistaken, especially regarding ingratitude, and to begin to make amends. So thanks for reading.