Photo Credit: unsplash

{Originally posted to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}

The end completes the beginning. Adam missed his chance for immortality, “Lest he put forth his hand and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat and live forever (Genesis 3:22).” The Talmud insists that Genesis concludes with someone who successfully achieved eternity, “Jacob, the Patriarch, did not die (Ta’anit 5b).” Jacob grasped the eternal by teaching his family how to find peace with their imperfections.

Advertisement



 

Adam and Eve heard, “The Voice of God walking in the Garden,” just after their first sin. The Voice was an invitation to run to God despite their terrible mistake, but they were too ashamed to run. They heard God’s call to reconnect and repair, but Adam and Eve were embarrassed by their sin, and their sense that they would probably sin again. They were too weighed down by their shame and imperfections to run back into God’s arms.

 

Jacob understood how his sons were carrying the burden of their crimes, a terrible weight to carry through life, and even worse for a family about to begin the servitude in Egypt. Jacob wanted his children to live with a sense that even the imperfect can taste eternity. The Midrash teaches that the seventeen years that Jacob and his family lived in Goshen, were similar to living in the Garden of Eden. They tasted paradise despite their imperfections. It was that Taste of Eden that nurtured Israel in Egypt even during the darkest times. The man who successfully taught that our imperfections do not prevent a connection to eternity, was rewarded with immortality.

 

We have a Shalom Zachor on the first Friday night of a boy’s life, always before his circumcision. The child is spiritually imperfect, he is uncircumcised, and still has a connection with eternity, Shabbat, just as did Adam and Eve, sinners allowed to remain in Paradise for the first Shabbat, a Taste of the Eternal.

The Children of Israel, imperfect as they were, reconnected to that sense of the Eternal as they stood before Mt. Sinai even though they would forfeit that power with the sin of the Golden Calf. God wanted them to understand that imperfections, sins, and mistakes, would never prevent them from running back into His arms and connecting to the Eternal.

 

I hear people describe our times as a Period of Severe Judgment. If there are wars and hurricanes, it is because we are sinners. If we suffer financial problems, health issues, or conflicted relationships, it is because we are so imperfect. We deserve to suffer. We are not even listening for the Voice of God that walks in the Garden calling out an invitation to connect to the Infinite despite our imperfections. We have lost Jacob’s gift of living in Eden granted even to those who massacred Shechem and sold Joseph into slavery. We are not paying attention to that first Shabbat of a boy’s life that invites the imperfect to connect with the Eternal. We have forgotten the true gift of Sinai that embedded in us the ability to taste Paradise even when we have made mistakes.

Jacob lives. He lives in all who can drop the heavy burden carried by all since Adam and Eve, the belief that our imperfections will block us from tasting Paradise. Each prayer, Shabbat, Torah study and Mitzvah offer us, in our imperfections, to connect with the Eternal. Jacob insists that we first reject the shame we’ve carried since Adam and Eve, and understand that there is a place in Paradise even for the imperfect.

 

When we teach Judaism as a list of laws and beliefs without Jacob’s gift of Paradise for the imperfect, we place the heavy burden of Adam and Eve’s shame on our children’s shoulders. Why would we wonder why so many people are rejecting their heritage? We have an opportunity to renew Jacob’s gift, and that is exactly what The Foundation Stone is accomplishing with our classes, workshops, retreats and programs. Please join our efforts by making your end of year tax-deductible contribution to The Foundation Stone, and share Jacob’s gift with the thousands who benefit from our efforts.

Shabbat Shalom

Advertisement

SHARE
Previous articleNo Condemnation for Hezbollah by UN Security Council
Next articleMattis and Israel – Not a Love Story
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg, is founder and President of the leading Torah website, The Foundation Stone. Rav Simcha is an internationally known teacher of Torah and has etablished yeshivot on several continents.