The last three gifts
When God sent Adam and Chava from the garden, God gave them three gifts.
The first one, as you probably know, was clothes. The Torah text says:
And the LORD God made garments of skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. (3:21)
It took them a little to see the second gift.
They were now o
utside the garden. They were afraid. According to the midrash, they had five children with them: Kayin and his twin sister, and Hevel and his two twin sisters <you can read this midrash by clicking here>.
They were afraid for the first time. They had never experienced fear in the garden. They were sad for the first time. They had never experienced sadness in the garden. They were anxious for the first time. They had never experienced anxiety in the garden. With all those feelings swirling around and inside them, they felt terribly alone and confused, too. They also felt guilty. It was such an oppressive amount of negative feelings, and the only thing they could do was to
hug each other and cry together. It was the first time they cried, too.
And suddenly, they felt better. A little lighter. That’s when they learned of the second gift – the power of tears. After the tears, they held their hands together and began walking away from the only home they had known so far, the garden.
And as they looked back, they saw the third gift, even though it would take them a very long time to comprehend that it was a gift. They saw the tree of life – if you remember, they had only taken from the tree of knowledge, but the tree of life was left untouched. God did not want them to take the fruit from the tree of life because that would mean they could live forever. Notice – they were going to die inside the garden, they just didn’t know it.
So God had decided that the best way to prevent this was to put angels guarding the tree and the way back:
the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen. 3:24)
Now imagine what Adam and Chava and their children saw: a tree with fire all around, and not being burnt.
And so I ask you – what do we call the tree of life? What is the Etz Chayim? It’s Torah. You know who saw that entrance again, many generations later? Moshe.
What did Moshe see? He saw a tree, with fire all around, not being consumed. And he did understand how fabulous that vision was.
And this was God’s last parting gift: the entrance of the garden is still there, the signpost for it is our Torah, and the more we study and learn, the more we follow the mitzvot, the greater is the fire within, burning with love for God and the garden. And that is how we make our way back, every day.