And the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying: "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die."
And the Lord God said: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helpmate for him."
"One more complaint and I'm gonna quit finding you stuff to eat."
"Did I complain? Did I say anything?"
"You didn't have to say anything; I saw you roll your eyes."
"I didn't roll my eyes."
"You did and I saw you do it."
"I had something in my eye."
"Yeah, your eyeball." The woman sighed and leaned against the rock. "Hey, I'm as new at this as you are, y'know. It's gonna take me a little time to finesse the process."
"Did you hear me say one single thing about dinner?"
"No....you said nothing. An indictment in and of itself."
"Just because I didn't go 'wow, that's great food,' doesn't mean I didn't like it."
"You didn't ask for seconds."
"I didn't need seconds. You gave me enough the first time around."
"You usually ask for seconds."
"I had a late lunch."
"Late lunch? What were you eating? Did you check it out first? Did you just stuff it in your mouth? How did you know it wasn't disagreeable....like that green thing you brought home last week."
"The green thing wasn't disagreeable....the amount was. I ate too many."
The woman said nothing.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman: "Yea, has God said: You shall not eat of any tree in the garden." And the woman said unto the serpent: "Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said: You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die."
The woman walked along the bank of a stream watching the fish swim by. She marveled at the way the sunlight made their skin sparkle even through the water. Stooping down, she put her hand in the water and she laughed when the fish tickled her fingers.
"They look like little rainbows," said a voice behind her.
This was a new voice, one she had not heard before. She turned to see a strange looking creature standing nearby. "What's a rainbow?"
"Oh, now there's a treat for the eyes....but you'll not see one. It something that will come after the rain."
"What's a rain?"
The creature grinned at her. "That's when water falls from the sky."
"Water falls from the sky? That's preposterous."
"Nope. It'll happen. Trust me."
"Trust you? Who are you that I should trust you?"
"Nachash is the name. I live here, just like you do."
"Just like all the other creatures, I suppose."
"Not quite like the other creatures. You're talking to me and I'm answering, right?"
"Sure. Why not?"
"Has anyone else talked to you?"
"No. Not really."
"See, there you go." He squatted down beside her. "I'm not like you or your friend. I've been around a bit longer."
The woman thought about that for a while. "Do you eat?"
"On occasion....when I see something I want to eat."
"Oh, like a number of things. Figs, pomegranates, the occasional chicken."
"You eat chickens! Yech! That sounds disgusting."
"Hey, a guy's gotta eat what a guy's gotta eat."
"I wouldn't eat a chicken, that's for sure. The feathers would taste terrible."
"You don't eat the feathers."
"How do you avoid it?"
He shook his head. "Forget the chickens. But, I'll tell you one thing that's great."
"Yeah, what's that?"
"Dates? What's dates?"
"Oh, they are succulent! They're a delicacy! Sweet to the tongue and satisfying to the belly."
"Yeah? Where can I find one of these dates?
"There's this tree about half a mile from here.....right in the center of the garden."
"What does it look like?"
"Tall, kinda rough bark, big leaves....almost as big as you."
"Wait a minute...you talking about THAT tree?"
"You know what tree I mean. That tree. The tree in the center of the garden. The one we're not supposed to touch....oh, you know which one."
The serpent laughed at the woman. "Now that's preposterous! I've eaten from that tree and I'm still here."
"Didn't the Holy One tell you NOT to eat from a particular tree?"
"Can't think of a time when it was mentioned."
"Well, the Holy One told my husband one tree was big trouble and to stay away."
"The only trouble you'll get into from eating those dates is the stomach ache you'll get from eating too many. In fact, eat from that tree and you will never look at food the same way again. That tree, m'dear, is brain food. Eat just one those dates and you'll be so alive, so alert that everything you see will take on new definition. I highly recommend the experience."
And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her and he did eat.
Alone at the center of the garden stood two majestic trees side by side. No birds chirped, no animals moved along the ground as they did in other parts of the garden. The air was perfectly still. One tree was taller than the other; it's fronds shot upward into the sky, as though its arms were raised to God.
The second tree was smaller, yet no less regal. Fruit dripped from its branches like honey from a hive and it was simply a matter of reaching up to pluck one of the little brown surprise packages. The woman stared up at the leaves for a long time, and it seemed to her the fronds, so weighted from their load, leaned down to her. Finally, she stretched out her hand, barely touching one of the dates, and it dropped into her palm. She reached again, and another fell into her hand. "I'll take just two," she said aloud, her voice sounding strange in the silence surrounding the trees. The words floated away, but there was no response; no warning from God to stop her. "Hmmmph, maybe I did have my trees mixed up. This one is certainly accessible enough; the fruit just falls into my hand just like from all the other trees in the garden. It must be all right." Holding the two dates in her hand, she went to find her husband.
"What is this?" he asked when she handed him the date.
"It's a new variety. I found it at the center of the garden."
"Did you take it from that tree I told you about?" he whispered, almost afraid to ask the question.
"I don't think so." She told him about the serpent and what he had said. "I think this one is all right." And with that, she popped one of the dates into her mouth.
It was the sweetest, most delicious thing to have ever touched her tongue. She chewed it slowly to savor the delicate taste. And as she swallowed, her eyes grew large and she stared at her husband.
"It's must be good," he shrugged as he put the little fruit into his mouth.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden toward the cool of the day; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
"Where are you?"
The man and the woman knew hiding was not going to help. "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked," said the man as he stepped out from the dense bushes.
"Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you that you should not eat?"
The man glanced behind him before he said, "The woman who You gave me to be with me...she gave me this date thing and told me to eat it."
God waited for the woman to come forward. "What is this that you have done?"
The woman swallowed hard, but answered, "The serpent charmed me; he convinced me this was all right; I took the fruit and I ate it."
"You didn't need to eat that fruit," said the Holy One; "because you each stopped to think about what you were about to do, you already knew the difference between good and evil."
"Perhaps," sighed the woman, "but it was unconfirmed."
And the Lord God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, cursed are you from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between her offspring and yours; they shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise their heel."
God told the woman she would bring her children into the world with pain and suffering, and that her husband would rule over her. And to the man, God decreed that he would have to work for a living. And, to them both, God pronounced that since they came from dust, they would return to dust at the end of their days. Then, the Holy One told them they would be exiled from the garden.
But the Holy One was not finished with the woman.
That night, as she slept her last night within the protective cocoon of the garden, the Holy One came to the woman and spoke to her.
"Since you are so smart now, you will learn to use your knowledge. Because you paused to think before you ate of the fruit of My tree, the day will come when your descendants will accept the laws that I will give them. When that time comes, and your people will look to My law as their Tree of Life, the women who will come from you will pause as they prepare food for their families to consider whether or not this food is befitting consumption.
"And as if that is not enough, I shall give those women who come from you a holiday cycle which will remind them that I am the Lord God and your actions have caused them to spend endless time in their kitchens. They will also have a holy week when their entire household will be dismantled, cleaned, and reassembled, only to be disassembled and reassembled at the end of the week. The men shall call this Pesach, for it will commemorate a great event, but the women shall call it My Revenge for your transgression."
God looked down at the sleeping woman. "As you have been charmed, so shall you charm. As you were convinced, so shall you convince others. You shall be responsible for teaching your offspring the art of being human. You shall teach them manners and convention. You shall be the rod of discipline while you are the cushion of comfort. They will test you and try your patience, but you are to love them unconditionally, as I love you and your husband. They will not have the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from which to benefit, but they will look to you the same way. You will impart to them the wisdom you gained by swallowing the date, by swallowing your words as I did mine when I let you eat the fruit of My tree. You may guide them, but you must let them learn as I let you.
"I said your husband shall rule over you, and so he shall, but you shall be the arbiter. You shall be responsible for peace in your household. You shall learn to diffuse him when he is angry and you shall bolster him when he is weak, for you are the stronger one. Because you accepted your complicity in this, you will be expected to accept responsibility even when it is not yours. You will swallow this as you did the date, but it will not taste as sweet. You will, however, eventually learn how to use what you now know. And My blessing for you is that you are capable of learning to use it wisely."
And when the woman awoke in the morning, she remembered what the Holy One said. Looking over at her still sleeping husband, she sighed before she nudged him gently.
"Adam, wake up. It's time to get going."
Torah verses: Genesis 2-3, THE TORAH published by The Jewish Publication Society of America © 1962