Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The Gemara (Chagiga, 12a; Sanhedrin 38b) tells us that Adam HaRishon was “Misof ha’olam v’ad sofo” – from one end of the world/universe until the other end. In his Sichos Mussar on Parshas Shemos, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, zt”l, explains that this Gemara is not to be understood literally, but rather Chazal are teaching us the limitless potential of mankind. Adam HaRishon, says Reb Chaim, was aware of and possessed the ability to attain levels of greatness beyond what might otherwise be consider natural. Even after mankind was banished from Gan Eden and sentenced to a more limited experience, Rav Chaim says, our potential is so much greater than we too often believe.

Elsewhere, (Berachos 31a) the Gemara says that wherever Adam walked those are the lands that have since been settled.


Maps are used as guides but that, of course, means that the terrain has already been traversed, the topography and any potential dangers have been studied and marked, and that following the path demarcated by the map is a reasonably safe way to go. It may not be easy, but it is indeed doable.

Knowing that humanity has been imbued with the limitless potential of Misof ha’olam v’ad sofo and that in a literal sense “wherever we are today, someone has gone before” can be a useful tool in not allowing the apprehension of the unknown or the nagging sense of insecurity to limit our accomplishments.

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Avi Ganz is the program Director of Ohr Torah Stone's Yeshivat Darkaynu. He lives with his wife and five children in Gush Etzion where he volunteers for MD"A, plays the blues on his Hohner, and reminisces fondly of his days playing tackle football with the IFL.