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And as long as the soul still resides in the body, as long as the breath of G-d replenishes our lives at every moment, one must make a positive difference in this world in spite of the many falls and challenges, with conviction and determination, and with more light, more love, and more peace.

Rabbi Allouche

What a dramatic opening!

Adam and Eve sin as they eat from the forbidden tree. Cain sins as he murders his own brother, Abel. And eventually, the entire human experience on earth fails, as we succumb to our worse inclinations: jealousy, promiscuity, thievery, and more.

But why does the Torah begin with so many failures? Why can’t the pages of G-d’s book open up with a smile?

The answer is telling. And it shares an invaluable lesson for life:

By opening His Torah with so many flops, G-d was teaching each of us that failure is an inevitable part of life on Earth. In the words of King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 7:20): “There is no righteous man who never sins.” The big question of life, however, is not whether we fail, or if we sin; the big question is whether we can find the courage and strength to rise up after we fall.

Unfortunately, many people slip into a downward spiral, after experiencing failure. Why? Because failure breeds despair. Despair can damage a person’s self-esteem. And a damaged self-esteem, in which a person ceases to believe in himself, brings about more and more failures.

But the founders of humanity acted differently. Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit, but they snapped out of it, by dedicating themselves to building a family.  Cain commits one of the worse sins ever. But he immediately repents, marries, begets a child, and founds a city, naming it after his son, Chanoch. The human experience fails, and a devastating flood emerges. But the surviving family of Noach plants a vineyard and rebuilds the world.

Adam and Eve, Cain, and Noach, and his family, did not lock themselves in their bedroom for endless days after experiencing failure. They did not drink themselves to oblivion, nor did they fall into a state of debilitating depression. Instead, they went out and made a difference. They understood that they could never undo their past. In fact, they would actively repent for the rest of their life; but that didn’t stop any of them from doing the right thing. Because they understood, what King David proclaimed two millennia after them, that, “the righteous may fall seven times, but they will get up again. But one fall is enough to overthrow the wicked” (- Psalms 24:16). 

The lesson for all of us is vital: the reaction to destruction must be construction. The best answer to evil must be goodness. The only response to darkness must be light. And as long as the soul still resides in the body, as long as the breath of G-d replenishes our lives at every moment, one must make a positive difference in this world in spite of the many falls and challenges, with conviction and determination, and with more light, more love, and more peace.