To many, Eve, also known in hebrew as “Chava” was the first woman in history. She also happens to be remembered for her grave sin, which caused all of humanity to deem her responsible for human suffering as part of our narrative. Infact, it was because of Chava, that all of humanity was banished from the Garden of Eden. And like my namesake, I have personally struggled in life to feel responsible for many things going awry in my life. Maybe its because I’m the oldest child and I carry the weight of the world. Maybe its because my namesake deemed it so. Either way, it became evident through a series of events that I needed to see life through a different lens. If I was going to grow, I could not spend my life in fear of allowing myself to become a victim to my own fallacy of thinking- that everything bad must be my fault.
What is the story of my namesake’s big sin that we are familiar with? The first woman in history to be married, Chava’s matrimonial bliss was in full swing for all of twenty-four hours, when the 7-year itch began. She just needed something, anything to bring her relationship to a mysterious romantic tip. She had already tried long walks in the zoo. Obviously that got old real quick. Suddenly she got hungry. She wanted to find something common for her and her man to relish in, something exciting, something dangerous, something naughty, a bite of a fruit perhaps? I still don’t get what makes fruit naughty. But G-d said don’t eat apples, and of course that’s what they wanted to have for breakfast. Who knew that one bite of the tasty treat would change her entire world forever? One little tiny iddy biddy bite and poof, Chava’s world turned a dirty grey, like the color of these pages when you squint. The thought has always been that she made one little mistake, and we human beings have paid the price for all eternity.
It seems pretty black and white. God's commandment to Adam and Eve was, “From the tree of knowledge you should not eat, for on the day you eat from it you will die.” (Genesis 2:16) As a result of this little snack Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, and death and pain became the plight of human life on earth. (Genesis 3:14-24) -Black and white, easy to understand, what’s not to get here?
I have personally struggled to see the reasons behind and understand human suffering. Over the course of the last 3 years I have lost a total of 10 people close to me. Five of them were family members. And I began to wish for those days where I believed in my innocence as Adam and Eve had experienced in Eden. I longed for the days where the most difficult decision was to eat a piece of fruit or take a walk with a rhino. I have sat with countless people in severe pain by their loss of expectations, their wish for innocence to recapture them one more time before the veil of humanity was lifted. I longed for the garden. And yet. The garden was so far away.
In the beginning of his work “The Guide for the Perplexed,” Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, Maimonidies (1135-1204), one of the greatest philosophers and personalities in Jewish history, raises a question in response to the most misinterpreted stories in the book of Genesis. That’s right, misinterpreted. In other words, Chava may have not deserved the bad rap she was labeled with.
As a result of Adam and Eve’s little snack from the Tree of Knowledge between Good and Bad, it created an upheaval within humanity that not only banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, but created a world where death and pain became part of human existence. Yet at the same time, the knowledge that Adam and Eve acquired, although burdensome, and although it took them out of their naïve innocence forever, also enlightened them. Obviously, Maimonidies hardly saw this as a “Black and white” story. For nothing ever is.
As the serpent argued before he seduced Eve to eat the fruit — “G-d knows that on the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like G-d, knowing good and bad Ibid. 3:5.” The serpent’s insight revealed itself. Following the eating from the tree, “G-d said, 'man has now become like the Unique One among us, knowing good and bad Ibid. 3:22.” As a result, Maimonides claims that the event that took place in Eden has become the GREATEST blessing that humanity could have been given rather than an assumed curse. Suddenly human beings were no longer animals reacting to instinct, but creatures who rationalized between good and evil. They were no longer living in a childlike state but rather they were mature beings with Divine knowledge and wisdom designed to reshape their existence- for the better. Like a caterpillar who struggles to extract his brand new shape out of his small cocoon, only to emerge as a beautiful butterfly, we humans have had our own metamorphosis to bear and indeed we have become beautiful.
Maybe the enigmatic serpent is not a destructive force here to create desolation and sorrow but is G-d’s mysterious hand pushing us into the sea of life so we get the lesson that we are born with the strength inside all of us to prevail despite life’s difficulties. Maybe the apple signifies the sweetness of life with all of its dichotomies of good and bad, hope and despair, happiness and sadness; faith and fear. Maybe Eve was meant to make her “mistake”. Maybe we can finally stop blaming her for humanity’s entire downfall. Maybe I can stop blaming myself. Can it be that Eve’s apple represents human fallacy, that her paradise represents human hope, and that her downfall represents human growth? Maybe we are all meant to fall from Eden. For from falling from Eden, we can learn how to pick ourselves up and recreate our own Eden elsewhere.
Set in the backdrop of an ethereal garden, my latest music video was produced by the incredible “>Richie Goodwin, this new film is meant to inspire us back into the Eden of hope so we listen to our own heartsong. Many times we falsely believe that The Garden of Eden, where mankind discovered human err and struggle is lost to us forever, thereby giving us the false impression our banishment from our innocence is also gone forever. But what that story really tells us is that it is our opportunity to discover our own garden. Scorned with the thorns of our complex paths, we can recreate our own gardens despite the banishment, maybe even because of it. For what are thorns, but the protective armor we wear to protect our delicate beautiful flowers of strength. The song, co-written with brilliant composer “>”Trust”. For when we trust in the music of life's complexity, clarity of finding our lost innocence can only arrive in the form of song.