Thorns and thistles

The difference between the Hebrew letters Daled and Resh is almost indiscernable, but in two specific words, they make all the difference.

Rabbi Moshe Kempinski ,

moshe Kempinski
moshe Kempinski
moshe Kempinski

Parshat Breishit Genesis 1:1–6:8

When G-d created Adam and Eve he described to them their purpose. That purpose was to work the garden and therein learn the importance of process and of growth. By so doing to learn "G-d" .

"Now Hashem G-d took the man, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it."(Genesis 2:15) .

Tending the garden was intended to be the ultimate lesson and life plan for humanity. In fact all of creation waited for the birth of man.

"Now no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because Hashem G-d had not brought rain upon the earth, as there was no man to work the soil." (ibid 2:4-5)

Regrettably Adam and Eve craved the fruit immediately. The purpose of the creation was the walk and the journey, but mankind was to forever struggle with destination and shortcuts .When shortcuts are considered a virtue then the journey inevitably falters

That truth becomes evident when one contemplates the punishment that Adam and Eve received were not meant to simply cause suffering. Hashem’s “punishments “ are not about suffering but rather always about instruction. Hashem wanted them to learn the lesson of life

To the woman He said, "I shall surely increase your sorrow and your pregnancy; in pain you shall bear children...And to man He said, "... cursed be the ground for your sake; with toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life.And it will cause thorns and thistles ( DARDAR) to grow for you, and you shall eat the herbs of the field.(Genesis 3:16-18)

Life’s achievements would be arrived at through struggle and effort. Yet it would be struggle that would remain filled with possible wrong turns and misguided ideas.

The verse” And it will cause thorns and thistles (DARDAR) to grow for you,”(ibid 18) describes the thistles that will become an obstacle.

The word for thistles in Hebrew is DARDAR is spelled Dalet Resh and Dalet Resh.

Years ago, Rabbi Sholom Gold of Har Nof shared an insight revealed by Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Spira, known as the “Bnei Yissaschar”.

Rav Spira points two hugely different verses in the Torah in which, when written in the Torah, have one letter is enlarged in size.

The first is the ultimate declaration of faith;

Hear, O Israel: Hashem is our G-d; Hashem is one (ECHAD) ( Deuteronomy 6:4)

The second is the classical warning regarding idolatry.

For you shall not prostrate yourself before another god (el ACHER) (Exodus 34:14)

In the case of both these verses there appears an enlarged letter. The first in the SHMA declaration it is the DALET at the end of the word ECHAD / ONE (spelled Aleph, Chet and Dalet).

In the second in the “warning” it is the RESH at the end of the word ACHER / OTHER (spelled Aleph, Chet and Resh). The Bnei Yissaschar teaches that the reason those two letters are increased in size was so one would not confuse those two concepts. If one loses the awareness of ECHAD, the all encompassing ONENESS of G-d and confuses it with the word ACHER, that is to say some other power, external or within themselves, then failure is inevitable.

This is hinted by the word for thistles DARDAR spelled Dalet -Resh -Dalet -Resh. The constant struggle of our journey hangs between those two concepts of living. This struggle between the acceptance of Hashem’s sovereignty and that of believing in other forces within our arrogant and misguided grasp, will continue to be THE obstacle in our journey through life.

That was the lesson of the Tree of knowledge and that was the failure that led to that long and arduous path attempting to return to the garden.

leRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved