Parshat Bereishit: Reward Doesn't Exist Without Struggle

October 21, 2022
BBYO Weekly Parsha


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This week’s Torah portion, the very first- Parashat Bereishit covers one of the most recognizable biblical stories, the tale of Adam and Eve. The details of this story are widely known. G-d created the world including the first humans, Adam and Eve. They were given one commandment; they were not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. When they disobeyed G-d, they and the snake that convinced them to eat the forbidden fruit were all punished. The snake was relegated to crawling on their stomach and eating from the dust of the Earth. Eve was punished with pain during childbirth, As G-d exclaimed, “I shall surely increase your sorrow and your pregnancy.” Then G-d punished Adam with a sentence to labor. G-d decreed that Adam will need to work to produce his food, until the day he dies.

It’s hard to look at a punishment of both pain and interminable work as anything but, as an understatement, unfavorable. But these consequences, while extreme, are not as unequivocally negative as they may seem. The story of Adam and Eve does more than explain why snakes don’t have legs; it explains the creation of our humanity. Having to work to survive is part of being a human and is a common experience that everyone has throughout their life. It’s a struggle, but it’s a struggle that is shared by all of humanity.

However, this struggle is not without its reward. Positive things do not exist without the negative things. Reward does not exist without some pain. When we must work hard for something, it’s always more satisfying than if it had simply been handed to us. Additionally, we often appreciate the good things in our lives more because they are often accompanied by stress. 

We find this same concept when the Torah describes to us the creation of light. The Torahs tells us, “And G-d saw the light that it was good, and G-d separated between the light and between the darkness.” If G-d saw that the light was good, why didn’t G-d create light to be ever present? There needed to be a balance of both - not just one. There is no light without dark, just as there is no reward without pain. Essentially, our human experience is created not with the creation of Adam and Eve, but with the punishment of Adam and Eve.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hannah Null, CRW Regional Yehudiah

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