Friday, October 7, 2016

What does Adam represent for us, today?

What does Adam represent for us, today? True, his destiny is unique, but that is true for every one of us. Every man must believe that his every deed involves all other men. Whoever kills, kills Adam. Whoever kills, kills Adam’s vision, kills in Adam’s name. Every man should be Adam to all others. That is the lesson learned — or to be learned — from his adventure.

Nor is it the only one. Expelled from paradise, Adam and Eve did not give in to resignation. In the face of death they decided to fight by giving life, by conferring a meaning on life. After the fall they began to work, to strive for a future marked by man. Their children would die — never mind! One moment of life contains eternity, one moment of life is worth eternity.

Here again Adam differs from most other mythological figures. Though defeated by God, he did not wallow in self-denial. He had the courage to get up and begin anew. He understood that though man is doomed from the start, he can and must act freely when planning his future. Such is the essence of Jewish tradition. Despite his fall, Adam died undaunted. As long as he lived, even far from paradise, even far from God, victory belonged not to death but to him.

According to Jewish tradition, creation did not end with man, it began with him. When He created man, God gave him a secret — and that secret was not how to begin but how to begin again.

In other words, it is not given to man to begin; that privilege is God’s alone. But it is given to man to begin again — and he does so every time he chooses to defy death and side with the living. Thus he justifies the ancient plan of the most ancient of men, Adam, to whom we are bound both by the anguish that oppressed him and the defiance that elevated him above the paradise we shall never enter.

Messengers of God: Biblical Portraits and Legends by Elie Wiesel © 1976 by Elirion Associates, Inc.; Summit Books, New York, NY; pp. 31-32.