Man, Woman, and the Snake Between Them
For centuries, the story of Adam and Eve has captured the imagination of children and adults alike. It's time to know the true meaning of the story, who that cunning little snake was, and of course, how all this relates to the fact that 50% of American couples today are getting divorced
They’re the most talked about couple in history. She is the seducer, the unfaithful and reckless one, who lured him to do the forbidden. He is “the father of humanity,” the moral victim and the enlightened one, who failed to restrain his insubordinate wife and was lured to sin.
Or, you may prefer the modern version. She is graceful, abstinent, and pure, filled with the agony of regret over what she caused Him. He is rude, reckless, and vengeful because on that fateful day, he fell for a woman’s charms.
No, we’re not talking about another celebrity couple on its way to a fashionable divorce. Ladies and gents, we give you Adam, Eve, and the Snake—the first romantic triangle in history.
Garden of Eden
“These days, divorce statistics are not looking good for lasting marriages in the U.S. The divorce rate is currently about 50%, leaving millions of Americans wondering what to do with the division in their family, home, and finances,” states Online Lawyer Source.
Understanding the story of Adam and Eve can shed some much-needed light on the rift between the genders. But to do so, we must penetrate deep into the true, hidden meaning of this famous story.
First, we must be aware that, like all Biblical stories, this one is also written in a special, symbolic language. Every word alludes to the processes taking place on reality’s higher level, which is naturally concealed from our grasp. If we can learn to decipher that language, we would discover our spiritual roots and our true roles as men and women. So let’s start—with the beginning.
In the Beginning
The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that there is one all-inclusive force operating in reality, called “the Creator.” The quality of this force is that of complete, unconditional love and bestowal, and hence its purpose is only one—to give pleasure.
In order to actualize His will to bestow, He created a creature, or a soul, that would receive all His abundance. This soul is called “Adam HaRishon” (“The First Man”), or simply “Adam”—man.
And that’s exactly what the Garden of Eden story describes. It reveals how Adam, the soul, the single creature that existed, carelessly frolicked about in the Garden of Eden, until the Creator decided to do something to speed up its development:
“The Lord said, ‘It is not good that Man be alone; I will make him a helper corresponding to him.’” (Genesis, 2:18).
As already mentioned, Adam was not a physical man, but a spiritual entity, just like the “Garden of Eden” was not a physical place, but a spiritual level of reality. In fact, it was the best possible state of existence, so why did the Creator intervene in this perfect, carefree existence?
Because the soul had only a small, undeveloped desire to receive, and the Creator could not shower it with all the abundance He had in store. So in order for the soul to grow and mature, the Creator took it through a “maturation path.”
Two Parts of One Whole
In order for the soul to reach the state where it can be filled with infinite, eternal pleasure, it first had to learn the meaning of both reception and bestowal. For this reason, the Creator split it into two halves: “a masculine half”—the attribute of giving, and a “feminine half”—the attribute of receiving.
Only by finding the proper connection between them can the two parts of the soul—Adam and Eve—create a whole, perfect vessel in which the Creator’s abundance can reside.
Tree of Knowledge
So what does “eating of the Tree of Knowledge” have to do with all this? Kabbalah explains that “to eat” means to receive the Creator’s pleasure. And the Tree of Knowledge is the complete pleasure that the Creator wants to give, however the soul was yet unable to receive, and hence it’s called the “forbidden fruit.”
The soul, now consisting of Adam and Eve, hadn’t completed its process of development. So by eating the “forbidden fruit,” (receiving all of the Creator’s pleasure), it would be overpowered by the pleasure and lose its connection with the Creator—the quality of bestowal. In other words, the soul would fall to a level where it was completely detached from the Creator, and was entirely controlled by the ego—the corporeal world.
At first, they successfully stayed away from the “forbidden fruit”—until the Creator, once again, intervened. It’s because the soul needed to descend to the corporeal world in order to fully develop, and the Creator wanted to “accelerate” the process. This time, He recruited the most devious of all for the job—“the snake.”
This isn’t quite the familiar animal of the reptilian family. “Snake” refers to the ego that resides in each and every one of us. In the Garden of Eden story, the snake (the ego) coaxes Eve (the soul’s will to receive) to encourage Adam (the soul’s ability to give, like the Creator) to taste the forbidden fruit (to receive all of the Creator’s pleasure), even though they are not ready for it yet. As a result, they both disconnect from the Creator.
The pleasure of tasting that forbidden fruit was so intense, it forced the soul to forget all about the Creator and the fact that this pleasure came from Him.
As a result, Adam and Eve’s relationship with the Creator was reversed. They were “expelled from the Garden of Eden”—they lost their spiritual level and fell to the corporeal level, called “our world.”
Today, the Story Continues
Adam and Eve represent the spiritual roots of our souls. Although in the spiritual world, we are united as one whole entity; in the corporeal world we are disconnected, unable to understand each other.
What can we do about it? First, Kabbalah says that spouses should realize the existence of that snake between them. They have to understand that the ego is the only source of every problem in a relationship. Usually, the snake controls us so cunningly, we can’t even see that it’s the root cause of any alienation between us.
Second, spouses should realize that marriage is more than an institution invented by humans. It is part of a comprehensive, spiritual process of reconnecting the two parts of the soul. Realizing this will make it easier for spouses to cooperate. However, we cannot succeed if we try bridging our gaps only on the level of this world, for the sake of our mundane goals.
If we want our relationships to survive, we must imbue them with their true, spiritual meaning. And that can be done only when both spouses are aware of their mutual, spiritual goal.
This is what Kabbalists meant by “Man, woman and the Divine Presence between them.” (Babylonian Talmud) The spiritual unity between the two separate parts of the soul is what creates harmony, and within that unity, the Creator is revealed.