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Hope you’re having a great day!
Here’s a little quiz.
What’s the first thing G-d says to Adam, the first human being?
And no peeking!
Many people would say, “I know that one!”
“Don’t eat the apple.” (Actually, since Jewish tradition does not identify the forbidden fruit as an apple, we should probably say that it was, “Don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge.”
We’re getting close. But that is not really the first thing G-d says.
It’s something that is often overlooked.
First G-d said something else.
“You should eat from all the trees in the garden.”
And then He added something. Except for this one.”
Adam is being told how he should relate to the physical world.
Because here’s one way we could look at it.
We could say that we have a neshama, a soul. We’re spiritual.
So we shouldn’t be interested in physical pleasure. It will drag us down.
And that’s how some religions look at it.
If you really want to be holy?
Try to avoid physical pleasure.
But that’s not the Jewish approach.
G-d doesn’t want us to live in a monastery!
He wants us to enjoy His world! That’s why He made it so full of pleasure.
But there is a danger.
We can get so caught up in pleasure that we forget that we’re human beings.
That we have a higher purpose in life.
And we can become like animals. Pleasure seekers with no limitations.
… So G-d says, first thing, Adam, I want you to enjoy yourself.
Eat from all the trees.
But you need limits. You need a reminder that you’re not an animal.
So don’t eat from this one.
… Eating is something we have in common with animals.
And that’s why there are so many Jewish rituals involving food.
So we can enjoy it without forgetting who we are.