G-d warned Adam that he would die if he ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Yet he lived to the ripe old age of 930! What happened? And how was it connected to the Tabernacle in the desert?
How is Adam Connected to the Tabernacle?
Rashi explains that the silver bowl corresponds with Adam’s 930-year lifespan.
However, this raises a question:
If you pay attention to his commentary on the other verses, you will notice that he demonstrated how each element is connected to the inauguration of the Tabernacle and alter.
(The age of when Adam gave birth is connected to the “perpetuation of the world,” the allusions to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob emphasize the merit of the Jewish people, and other aspects, like “the hand of G-d which gave us the Torah” is meant to inspire us regarding Torah and Mitzvot, and so on).
But what connection is there between the lifespan of Adam and the inauguration of the Tabernacle, for which they brought a silver bowl to represent his 930 years?
Adam’s Mention Reminds Us of His Shortcomings!
Moreover: By mentioning Adam’s lifespan, we remind the student that Adam, G-d’s personal handiwork, was supposed to live forever. It was only due to an unfortunate occurrence (partaking from the Tree of Knowledge) that he was punished with mortality, therefore living only 930 years…
If so, mentioning Adam’s lifespan is a negative reference.
This therefore bolsters the question: How is it associated with the inauguration of the Tabernacle?
Why Didn’t Adam Drop Dead Immediately?
To resolve this issue, we must first resolve a crucial question on Rashi’s commentary in Bireishit.
In Bireishit, the Torah tells us that G-d warned Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, because he would die on the day he did so. The student then proceeds to read the rest of the Torah portion, and discovers that Adam lived 930 years! He will immediately ask the question: How did he live such a long life after partaking of the fruit if G-d said that he would die immediately?!
The answer to this question will also help us understand why Adam’s lifespan was incorporated in the Tabernacle’s inauguration.
He Demonstrated Regret and He Even Had an Excuse
When G-d asked Adam why he ate from the tree, he answered, “The woman that you gave to be with me—she gave me what I ate from the tree.” Despite the lack of gratitude evidenced in this statement, it is nevertheless a genuine response to G-d’s question.
G-d had told Adam that He would give him a helpmate, and then He fashioned Eve and brought her to Adam. Clearly, this was the helpmate that G-d had referred to.
Adam argued that he had received the fruit from the woman who was his G-d-given helpmate, so he had assumed that she was doing so by G-d’s command. Therefore, he had partaken of the fruit.
And we see that his answer was accepted, despite the fact that he had transgressed G-d’s word.
Why? Because his answer came from a place of remorse. When Adam and his wife heard G-d’s voice in the garden, they hid from Him out of shame and remorse. They realized that they were “naked”; as Rashi explains, they realized that were “naked” of the one mitzvah they had received from G-d. He realized that he shouldn’t have listened to his wife in this regard.
Since he was remorseful and he presented a good argument—that he had assumed it to be upon G-d’s instructions—G-d accepted his argument.
His explanation reflects the fact that according to Jewish tradition, women are to trusted in a variety of capacities; in fact, Jewish law determines that a single witness is considered reliable in matters of ritual prohibitions based on the very fact that a single woman’s testimony is always considered reliable in matters of kosher food and family purity, which are among the three pillars of the Jewish home.
How much more so regarding Eve… she is among those buried in the Cave of Machpelah; our sages tell us that she was profoundly beautiful, surpassing even the beauty of the matriarchs. Obviously, they were talking not only about physical beauty, but also spiritual beauty.
(She was, no doubt, physically beautiful as well. As we see regarding Sarah—the Egyptians noticed her beauty, indicating that she was beautiful in a very physical sense. However, her main beauty was spiritual. In other words, the matriarchs were spiritually beautiful, and their beauty shined through their bodies as well. And the same is true of Eve).
That was Adam’s argument: he had eaten the fruit because he had received it from his trusted G-d given helpmate.
Thus, we can understand why Adam did not die immediately: he had expressed remorse, and he had a reasonable argument as well.
The Power of Adam’s Repentance
This teaches us the amazing power of repentance. Although G-d had warned him that he would die on the day he ate from the tree, his repentance regained him his life, and not only a normal lifespan but a profoundly long-life of 930 years.
Here we find the connection between Adam’s age and the inauguration of the Tabernacle and the altar.
The Tabernacle was an atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf. It was all about repentance. The altar is also a vehicle for repentance: the sacrifices offered on it atoned for all sorts of negative behaviors. The concept of an altar as a source of finding favor with G-d goes all the way back to Noah, and continues with Abraham and the following generations, all the way down to the altar in the Tabernacle.
Therefore, at the moment of the inauguration of the Tabernacle and altar which are both vehicles of atonement, we are reminded of Adam’d lifespan, which is an expression of the amazing power of repentance.
Motzaei Shabbat Naso 1979
(Sichos Kodesh 5739 vol. 3 pg. 36.)