Gan Eden Essentials

parashas Bereishis 5782

“The L-RD G-d took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden, to till it and tend it.” – Genesis 2:15, JPS 1985 Tanach

Adam was given the responsibility to avdah (work) and shomer (guard) the garden of Eden. Yet, not until after Adam and Chava were expelled from Gan Eden, was he commanded to till the earth outside of the garden. The question may be asked, what was the essential difference between his responsibilities in regard to Gan Eden, and what comprised his role, once expelled?

A union with G-d (yichud, in Hebrew) constituted the existential nature of life in Gan Eden. Yet, that perfect relationship of oneness with G-d was broken by disobedience, having partaken from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. When both Adam and Chava had partaken of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they became self-aware, because the unity with G-d was interrupted.

As a result, existentially outside of Paradise, even before being officially expelled, their existence was disrupted by their own sin. In other words, they no longer were within the domain of perfect correspondence with the various components of Gan Eden. Sin, shame, and rebellion had entered into the picture, thereby disrupting peace and contentment.

Thus, within the garden, prior to the aveirah (sin), a G-d centered focus permeated every act, in regard to their endeavors. As explained elsewhere, that avdah refers to perfection of the soul, as per man being described as a nefesh chaya (literally, living soul; Ibn Ezra). Thereby, the refining of one’s personality is tantamount to the service that is concomitant with gan eden, when doing so under the guidance of H’Shem.

Yet, having been expelled, their lives subsequently encompassed, a self focused reality, wherein one attempts to improve himself, according to his own design, irrespective of the original blueprint. Having already given in to temptation, and partaken of the forbidden fruit, mankind was now subject to the challenges of dealing with his own unruly nature that had been unleashed.

The only way back to the garden is through acknowledgment of our own misguided attempts to continue on the path of independence from G-d; then to realize over time that these attempts are vain, and return to the original blueprint for our lives. This blueprint is known as the Torah, meaning “instruction.” All of kitvei kodesh (holy scripture) is of benefit for this endeavor, as well as listening to our conscience; for, G-d has given us an inner guidance system, with a homing beacon, called the soul.

Beginnings

“In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.”

– Genesis 1:1, JPS 1917 Tanach

“And G-d created man in His own image, in the image of G-d created He him; male and female created He them.”

– Genesis 1:27, JPS 1917 Tanach

“Before I created you in the womb, I selected you; Before you were born, I consecrated you.”

– Jeremiah 1:5, JPS 1985 Tanach

You are unique, designed for a purpose, beyond even your own expectations. What doubt might you have that you were born for a reason in the right season? Even in consideration of the challenges in life, that you may be facing right now, as well as any laments about things not working out in the past, G-d’s timing is perfect. Everything has been taken into consideration, in order to provide opportunity for the maximum potential of your soul to achieve spiritual growth. When we turn our hearts towards Him, seeking His wisdom within the framework of our daily lives, we may begin to see more clearly, how everything has been designed for our good in mind.


G-d may call out to you, to move forward, at some point, within the framework of His blueprint for your life; even, perhaps, every day, in the smaller details of your life’s journey. Perhaps, you are already experiencing this. He is interested in the many facets of our lives. When He created the heavens and earth, He never abandoned His creation; rather, He directs and guides, shapes and molds, if only we are willing to be influenced by Him.


In service to Him, you will always have a reason for being here on this earth.

Even if your current condition is one of stasis, this could be a preparation for a unique mission, that only you can enact. Every single soul on earth has a purpose. When we are able to use our discernment, in regard to our unique calling, we may begin to accept our circumstances, as a necessary requirement to shape our character, so that we can be used for a higher purpose. On the one hand, the most challenging experiences in life may serve to improve our character. On the other hand, at times, we need to focus on nurturing our soul, readily opening ourselves to becoming better people through self improvement, before we can effectively accomplish the goals in life that G-d may have in mind for us.

Regrets over past misdeeds provide opportunity for teshuvah (repentance); whereas teshuvah was created before the creation of the world, in order to provide an essential way to return to G-d. The past may lead to the future in a transitional manner, when maladaptive patterns are diminished, and life brings restoration, as was meant to be from the beginning of time. In service to G-d, success is on the horizon, by way of careful steps, one at a time, towards the goals that are revealed to you. He may serve as a Guide and Companion; yet, He may also send others, who will help you along the way.

“He will shelter me in His pavilion on an evil day, grant me the protection of His tent, raise me high upon a rock.”

– Psalm 27:5, JPS 1985 Tanach

“Compassionate Father, draw Your servant to Your will.”

– Yedid Nefesh