In Michtav M'Eliyahu vol2. page 137 Rabbi Dessler explains that the primordial snake was an external manifestation of the evil inclination which entered man after the sin.

If so, why was the snake punished if it was just doing its job of enticing man which is what it was created for? (as written in Gen.3:14: "And the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed be you more than all the cattle and more than all the beasts of the field; you shall walk on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.")

  • I'm quite certain that there is an answer to this in Avot D'Rav Nattan. It has to do with a premise that G-d would have had to destroy the world had he not cursed the snake first. I'll try to post an answer in a day or so, B"N.
    – DanF
    Nov 28, 2016 at 16:41
  • Very related judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/68939/…
    – Al Berko
    Mar 10, 2019 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


I would suggest you read Rabbi Hirsch's commentary on those verses 3: 14-15.

Specifically he writes:

we have to take this pronouncement against the serpent not so much as punishment for the serpent as from the point of view of the education of mankind.

He spells out his reasoning and proofs there. I think this would suffice to answer the specific question here, but so as not to leave everyone hanging I'll just throw in an excerpt of what he suggests that lesson is:

From the point of view of the educational care for mankind, the איבה, the strong antipathy implanted in mankind towards snakes may be meant to bring home to his mind that it was "animal wisdom" that led him astray, etc.

  • Imagine rightfully stoning a Shabbos breaker and G-d appears and says you be cursed. Wait, didn't you say to stone the offender? Well, says G-d, it's for educational purposes. Sounds funny.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 10, 2019 at 13:47
  • @Al Just because you don't understand Rav Hirsch (And I presumeyou didn't bother actually reading it inside) doesn't mean you should downvote my post. There is an obvious difference between the snake and the mechalel shabbos. The snake was only created as a counterbalance for the purpose of educating mankind, therefore, punishing him for that same purpose makes perfect sense. Whatever you thought to compare to that is obviously wrong.
    – user6591
    Mar 10, 2019 at 14:14
  • Oh, I'm really sorry, it does not let me take it back. Can you explain what I don't understand, please? It says "not so much as punishment", but he was severely punished, later ""from the point of view of the education of mankind" - but the Torah is full of the explicit prohibitions of soliciting and the like - why bother? (Truly I have a bad feeling that R"H sometimes is just trying to be more educational himself and less reasonable).
    – Al Berko
    Mar 10, 2019 at 14:19
  • Just change something so I can take my vote back. I have nothing against you, I just strongly disagree with educationsl interpretations.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 10, 2019 at 14:20
  • It's a serious draw-back of this site that the effort of an answer can't be separated from the information, so I would like to give you +1 for your effort, but -1 for the information as I appreciate your zeal and disagree with the claim.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 10, 2019 at 14:22

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