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We learn in the Torah that the Creator permitted Adam and Eve to eat from all of the trees in the Garden of Eden, except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent approached Eve and initiated a conversation about the prohibition of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Eve added that not only did the Creator say to not eat from it, but to not touch it (which was not the case). The serpent told her if you eat it your eyes will be open. Eve ate it and gave it to her husband; their eyes opened, and they saw they were naked.
How is this relevant to us today?
The kabbalists teach that every soul that has ever, and will ever, exist, were first contained in Adam and Eve, meaning that each and every one of us bears some responsibility for what took place in the Garden of Eden, and which still needs to be corrected.
Beresheet is the first portion of the New Year and, therefore, the seed for the entire year. Connecting to this portion can help each and every one of us to fulfill our unique purpose in life in order to complete our correction. By connecting to this portion, we can work towards fulfilling our life’s purpose, and going back to the time of the sin gives us the ability to do so. This is why this parashah (portion) is so significant.
What is the Tree of Life, and what is the Tree of Knowledge?
Whenever the Torah talks about the Tree of Life, it is talking about the Ten Sefirot – the ten levels of consciousness. The upper three Sefirot are a part of the Tree of Knowledge and are not connected to our physical world. The lower seven Sefirot are a part of the Tree of Life and are connected to our physical world. Adam and Eve were created on a Friday, a few hours before Shabbat. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil obviously was at a higher level than the Tree of Life, and Adam and Eve were not ready to handle its energy. Had they resisted it throughout the first Shabbat, they would have been able to handle its energy afterwards – their vessel would have been ready to handle the whole Tree of Life.
What does it mean that they were not ready? The Creator’s goal was that Adam and Eve would enjoy from the fruits of all of the trees; however, their vessel was not ready at that time.
Rav Ashlag, the founder of The Kabbalah Centre, explains that one of the elements that indicates that our vessel is ready to accept that which we desire is our ability to resist. If we are not able to resist or restrict, we are not able to receive the Light in that which we desire. In other words, if we don’t resist, we can’t have affinity with the Light.
Before the sin, the reality of Adam and Eve was completely different than their perception after the sin, which was completely deceptive. Before the sin, Adam and Eve’s perception about what was good for them was the truth. If that was the case, why was the snake perceived as the truth? Why would Adam and Eve follow the snake? The first bite was taken with a great intention towards sharing. The problem was the second bite. Why? The goal is to have the totality of the Light, the whole Ten Sefirot. When Eve added her own calculation and prohibition, which was the first part of the sin, she left an opening for the Opponent (the negative force that causes all of the world’s pain and suffering) by revealing her Desire to Receive for the Self Alone. Every person must practice patience, perseverance and acceptance. Every time one leaves a window open to an external power, regardless of intention, one’s Desire to Receive for the Self Alone – the ego – will take over, and that is the indication that one’s vessel is not ready.
To truly own anything, we must be willing to let go of it first. If our ego is involved, we cannot enjoy the totality of the Light. Only through true restriction do we cancel the negativity of our ego.
In summary, this portion gives us the ability to go back to that moment where we did not restrict. With the merit of help from Rav Berg – who is no longer limited by the physical body – and Karen, may we have the merit to fulfill our unique purpose, as well as that of the Centre: bringing an end to pain, suffering, and chaos.