Bereishis – The Revolving Blade

As one of the major events in the Torah, the sin of Adam and Chavah eating from the Eitz Hada’as can be understood in many ways. I would like to present one approach to the sin and its ramifications.

The result of the sin for Adam is not only that he is expelled from Gan Eden, but the way back is guarded by Cherubim with revolving blades of the sword. What does this mean?

The Rambam explains that one of the results of the sin was that instead of there being a world of objective truth and falsehood, where even though you could choose to act falsely, you were aware it was false; there became a world of subjective good and bad, where even that itself was unclear. Why was the result and punishment of that sin the revolving blade? What was the Midah K’Neged Midah?

A revolving blade represents there is no certainty. Everything always changes. Since Adam ate from the tree which changed truth and false to good and bad, he is now condemned to live in a world of constant uncertainty of whether his choices are correct or not. That is why it says in the Pasuk that HaShem says, let him not eat from the Eitz HaChaim. That is not just a punishment but a protection. Eating from the Eetz HaChaim would make whatever position Adam is in permanent. It would make the uncertainty permanent, and there would be no place to find objective truth. Adam would never be able to find certainty and live in this place of uncertainty forever. But there must be a way to return to a world of truth. So how do we get past the sword of uncertainty?

These angels holding that revolving blade are called Cherubim. The most prominent place Cherubim are mentioned is in the Mishkan. They are above the Aron covering the Luchos in the Kodesh HaKodashim. These Cherubim can also move. When we are close to HaShem they face each other, and when we distance ourselves from HaShem they also distance themselves from each other.

The Torah is the Eitz HaChaim in its proper manner. It is the place of objective truth. The Cherubim will lead us back to the Eitz HaChaim in the proper way when we overcome the sin of Adam. They are found above the Aron in the place that is beyond the realm of creation. As the Gemarra says the place of the Aron is beyond space. Beyond the strictures of space represents before the Briah. That is returning to a recreation of the world, where the sin does not take place. In the Kodesh HaKodashim is also the Manna. That is also the food of Gan Eden, before the sin.

The revolving blade is held by the Cherubim, but so is the Aron. We can choose to connect to the Eitz HaChaim correctly by choosing the Torah to replace the Eitz HaDa`as of uncertainty with truth. Then the Cherubim put down their sword and allow us to enter the place of the Luchos where the sin of Adam is erased.

In the Lechah Dodi we say as Shabbas begins “Arise and and come out from the Mahapecha- the uncertainty”. Shabbos is a time to also do this, and leave the uncertainty and enter into Shabbos where we are connected to  HaShem with no doubts.

(Based on the Shem Mishmuel and Rav Dessler ZT”L)


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