Breishis – “The Undeniable Truth”

There is an interesting observation that can be made on this week’s Torah portion. When the Torah lists the genealogy between Adam and Noah, in chapter 5 of Breishis, it discusses specifically the lineage of Shes, one of Adam’s children. Adam’s other son, Hevel was killed by his brother Kayin before he had any children, and there is no mention of Adam when the Torah discusses Kayin’s genealogy in the previous chapter, and neither is there a mention of Kayin when the Torah discusses Adam’s genealogy in this chapter.
The Torah begins Adam’s genealogy by stating: “Adam lived 130 years and gave birth in his likeness, like his image and he was called by the name of Shes” (Breishis 5:3). The Rosh, commenting on the words “and gave birth in his likeness, like his image,” asks from whom did the generations of willful sinners descend? The Rosh answers that the willful sinners and wicked people came from Kayin; they had said ‘Let us remove ourselves from G-D’. (Click here fore Hebrew text.)

The Rosh seems to be bothered by the fact that the Torah uses a similar language when G-D created Adam in Chapter 1, verse 26: “And G-D said, ‘we shall make man in our image like us…’” The Rosh there explains “in our image” to mean in an image which is unique to him by us. This is referring to the image on “Hashem’s Holy Throne,” a face of a man which is shown to a person at the time of prophecy. “Like us” is referring to the fact that man is slightly similar to the celestial beings, i.e. angels, to be able to differentiate between good and bad…” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

Adam was created to a degree of perfection nearly that of an angel, with a direct link to Hashem through prophesy. The Torah is testifying to this by using the same language that it uses when creating man, when Adam had Shes, that Adam’s generations through Shes had perfected all the levels of character development in the book Mesilas Yesharim (Path of the Just, by Rabby Moshe Chaim Luzzato).  This led to prophesy, the conduit between man and G-D, and they were on a level just below that of angels, knowing good and evil, close to where Adam was before he sinned. It must therefore be impossible that the generations of sinners who G-D felt impelled to wipe out in the flood could have come from them! We must therefore conclude that all the evil and sinners came from Kayin, regarding whom the Torah does not mention Adam or being created in his image, like it does  when listing his genealogy.

The Rosh then explains why Kayin and his descendants did not reach the levels of “made in his image and likeness;” even though they too stemmed from Adam, it is because “they said, ‘we shall remove ourselves from G-D.’” It seems from this statement that they knew the undeniable truth. There were walking, breathing, upstanding individuals who glowed with purity and righteousness, but the majority of people in the world, for whatever reason, chose to not walk in the ways of Hashem and do His will. Yet they could not just deny the truth and what was moral; they had to verbally tell themselves that they wanted to remove themselves from G-D. That was the only way they could become so evil. It was not out of ignorance, or laziness, or just an unwillingness to acknowledge the difference between right and wrong. They had to actively remove themselves from what was clearly right by telling themselves to move away. Only then were they able to digress into such a rut that Hashem reneged on His creation and essentially started all over again with Noah and his family.

It is possible for a person to know and understand the undeniable truth but still do the wrong thing. But in order to do so, the individual would need to actively remove him or herself from the correct path, for whatever personal reason, in order to totally stray.

Leave a Reply