In Hebrew, the word “Adam” means not only the first human being, but refers, by extension to the entirety of the human race. Originally, Adam, the first man, a fusion by God of physical body and divine soul, had the potential for eternal life. If Adam would have sublimated the desires of the body to the directives of the soul, the body, in its loyal attachment to the immortal soul, would have shared that immortality in its sublimity. Adam’s sin loosened the attachment of body and soul so that the soul would ultimately leave the physical body, resulting in bodily death. Adam’s “immortality,” however, remained in perpetuity through the race of human beings that lived on after him, also called “Adam” in Hebrew. But the sins of subsequent generations so permeated the human race that they were doomed, as a species, to extermination through the Flood. By virtue of rising above the sins of his generation, Noach was spared humanity’s fate. Noach became the new “Adam,” the singular progenitor of a renewed humanity. In his new role as patriarch of the human race, Noach thought he could restore “Adam” to its original immortality. He therefore attempted to recreate the “forbidden fruit” scenario by planting a vineyard, so he might “control” the substance that had originally brought Adam to sin, thereby repairing Adam’s breach. Unfortunately, Noach failed to rise above the temptation of the body, indulged himself too far, and met with degradation, ironically repeating the error of Adam of allowing his ego to sway him to try and stand up against a temptation he in fact did not have the strength to conquer. In doing so, however, he stands as an example to teach us that the proper path in service of HaShem is to sublimate our ego to Him, to trust that HaShem’s directives will grant us the greatest benefits possible, and not to “test” ourselves with temptations we think we can conquer. HaShem may send the appropriate challenges our way at the right times for our growth and benefit, but only He knows when and what those are. Trust in HaShem and walk in his ways, for thus will we fulfill the infinite potential of man, and live up to the name Adam.
Based on Shla”h, Parshas Noach
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