THE DUKES OF HAZARD
This week we begin, once again, the cycle of reading the Torah. As the Torah is the ultimate blueprint for our lives, we read the Torah over and over, year after year.
This week we begin, once again, the cycle of reading the Torah. As the Torah is the ultimate blueprint for our lives, we read the Torah over and over, year after year. Through this article - an examination of Eve's decision to eat from the forbidden fruit - we can explore one of the many ways by which the Torah serves as a guide for daily living.
Why did Eve ignore G-d's command and decide to eat from the Tree of Knowledge? She ate the fruit from the tree because the snake convinced her that she would continue to be immortal. The Torah also tells us that Eve gave the fruit to Adam to eat. Why did she do this? Rashi, the fundamental Torah commentator, explains that Eve was afraid that she would die and Adam would remarry - she couldn't control her jealousy.
If she truly believed that she would live forever as the snake assured her, then why did she have to worry and be jealous of her husband possibly remarrying after she died? This can be explained with the following story: A conference of dukes used to meet periodically to discuss the progress and problems in their provinces. At one particular meeting, a duke of a lesser province mentioned to a greater duke that he had, living in his land, a man who could predict the future. The more prominent duke was less than thrilled and more than jealous, and he decided for himself that his peer must be lying. It was soon decided that at the next meeting, this foreseer would be presented to all of the leaders and tested so he could be proven as either a true foreseer or a fraud.
The conference date was set and soon the leaders reconvened. The man in question was brought up onto a podium and a board of advisors informed the duke of the question that they had come up with. The duke proceeded to ask the man, "Sir, on what day shall you die?" As he looked at the prominent duke, the man replied, "I, sir, shall die the same day that you die." The entire assembly had previously decided that if the man was to answer, "I will die tomorrow," the duke would kill him on the spot. If the man had answered, "I will die today," they would have merely waited the day out to see if he was telling the truth. When the wise man responded as he did, the group of leaders exclaimed, "Kill him! Kill him!" but the duke protested. The duke shouted, "Do you not realize what he said? For if this man is correct and I kill him, I myself shall also die."
This story enables us to appreciate the undeniable fact that, left to our own intellect, we cannot be confident that we will make truthful and correct decisions. This is true because a person is inevitably influenced by his surroundings. Just as the duke, who let his ego convince him that the foreseer was fraudulent, later realized that he had jumped to a conclusion based on his feelings, so too Eve convinced herself that there were no unwanted repercussions of her partaking of the forbidden fruit until her emotions and well-being became an issue.
We, too, are vulnerable to inconsistencies in our decision making if we rely solely on our own intellect. For this reason, G-d gave us the Torah to be a permanent guide with absolute truths to lead us through life.
Eitan Ovadia, an alumnus of Yeshiva Atlanta, writes from Atlanta.
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