Thursday, October 15, 2009

Personal Responsibility

In the beginning, there was...taking responsibility for one’s own actions. This important lesson is found in the very first portion of the Torah not once, but twice.

Adam and Eve were given total dominion over everything in the Garden of Eden with one exception: the Tree of Knowledge. The serpent lured Eve to the tree and seduced her into eating the fruit. Eve took one bite and immediately offered a bite to Adam. God approached them and they hid, until finally God accused them of their crime.

Adam’s immediate response to God’s accusation, however, was to pass the blame and say: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). Not only did Adam blame Eve for giving him the fruit, but he tried to blame God for giving him a mate who gave him the fruit.

Eve’s response was a little better: “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13). Eve only blamed the serpent for convincing her to taste the fruit. While admitting to eating the fruit, both of their confessions were preceded by excuses. Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden.

And then there was Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, who famously responded to God’s inquiry about his recently slain brother Abel’s whereabouts,“Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). Not only did Cain not admit to killing Abel, he, in fact, denied knowing where his brother was.

What would have happened if Adam, Eve or Cain had admitted their guilt and immediately repented their actions? We will never know. But stories found later in the Torah demonstrate that forgiveness is granted to those who properly acknowledge their misdeeds and amend their actions. (Judah and Tamar, David).

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