The Garden of Life

Moshe Kempinski

Life Lessons from the Parsha

The wonders of a garden are immeasurable. Every flower a glimpse of creation, every blossoming tree a whiff of immortality. To quote Victor Hugo in Les Miserables “A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”

Tending the garden was intended to be the ultimate lesson and life plan for humanity. In fact all of creation waited for the birth of man.

” These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, on the day that Hashem G-d made earth and heaven. Now no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because Hashem G-d had not brought rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work the soil. ( Genesis 2:4-5)

The purpose of mankind was to work the garden and therein learn the importance of process and of growth.

“Now Hashem G-d took the man, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.”(ibid:15) .

Yet the clear message was that it involved work. In the words of Rudyard Kipling; “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.”

Yet the temptation was the fruit.

“And the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and the tree was desirable to make one wise; so she took of its fruit, and she ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”( Genesis 3:6).

Why tend the garden when you can just pick the best fruits?

When shortcuts are considered a virtue then the journey becomes distorted. When the destination is the only focus then the process of growth and understanding becomes stymied.

Yet we have been taught that the walk forward and the walk into the unknown is the ultimate walk of faith and insights. Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, knew G-d . He was to be feared. Fear seemed to work only until the desire for instant fruit gratification moved them from fear to disobedience.

Others like Enoch and Noah walked with G-d. However, Abraham as we shall see was given a different task: “Hashem appeared to Abram, and said unto him: ‘I am G-d Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted.'” (Genesis 17:1) Abraham is bidden to be courageous and walk before G-d, not next to Him. Abraham is asked to have the faith to walk into the unknown sensing that G-d is behind him at all times.

Mankind need to be reminded again and again that is all about the journey not about the destination. If the original failing occurred due to disobedience resulting from looking for shortcuts to the fruits, we begin to understand why G-d declares the following;

To the woman He said, “I shall surely increase your sorrow and your pregnancy; in pain you shall bear children. ….” And to man He said, “….cursed be the ground for your sake; with toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life. And it will cause thorns and thistles to grow for you, and you shall eat the herbs of the field. With the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, for you were taken therefrom, for dust you are, and to dust you will return.( Genesis3:16-19)”

What is true in our personal life journey as it is true in our corporate national walk. Our lives are limited and our journey is circuitous. We need to measure our steps and learn from every setback. By so doing we can truly become all that we need to be

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved

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