after Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it says:

"And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were nak-ed, and they sewed fig leaves and made themselves girdles." (Gen.3:7).

Apparently before this, they did not experience shame of being nak-ed. Why did knowledge of good and evil also bring with it a feeling of shame at one's nake-dness? What is the connection between the two.

(dashes due to my internet filter)


5 Answers 5


A good breakdown of the story can be found here.


Basically, they were moving from a state of innocence to a state of personal responsibility. Before eve ate the apple, they knew there were correct decisions and there were incorrect decisions. That was not the same as having an evil inclination from within.

You can tell a child that something is bad and something is good. That doesn't mean they have this understanding of evil or a perception of this tug of war between their evil inclination and divine aspirations.

Adam and Eve were created in pureness so their nakedness was not an act of impurity or immodesty. Much like how nudity to a small child isn't the same as to an adult. A small child will strip off their diaper and run around naked while laughing maniacally but not have any evil or impure connections to that behavior (an example from the article). They do not do such things for impure reasons (such as a person exposing their body for sexual gratitude)

Adam and Eve gained an awareness of nudity and an awareness of their desire to turn away from G-d. This desire meant they were awakened to the other forms of desires which can be abused and be self-destructive. It was the point in which that tug of war (honoring G-d or turning away from G-d) started within all beings.

Nudity isn't inherently wrong, just as man and his wife having a loving sexual relationship in the nude is in no way evil. The problem is when nudity and sexuality get abused and lead to self-destructive tendencies which distract you from G-d and your personal responsibilities.

That is why nudity is associated with an awareness of good and evil in the Torah. Nudity sparks sexual desire and sexual desire sparks impure thoughts and impure thoughts (if exacerbated) can lead to self-destructive tendencies and away from G-d. Thus, we cover our bodies as an act of modesty and respect.

The same can be said for almost every behavior which there are laws.

Eating a delicious meal isn't wrong. Eating too much leads to gluttony which leads to self-destruction.

Drinking wine in celebration of Shabbos isn't wrong. Drinking too much can lead to falling into alcoholism which leads to self-destruction.

Hopefully that makes sense.


One explanation might be that in his initial state, Man's "nakedness" represents only the potential for sin, and is therefore not at all inherently shameful. Only once he "knows"/experiences sin and thereby internalizes it is his nakedness shameful.

This "knowing" of sin is a paradigm shift. Man in his initial innocent state makes his choices automatically from a non-conflicted perspective. However, man has the uniquely human ability to ignore his objective knowledge of truth and choose from a self-centered, hedonic perspective. In this state of mind, the intellectually honest choice is in conflict with the self-centered one, and man's perspective shifts to one of a choice between tov and ra. (The Maharal explains that tov, generally translated as "good", means something that lasts, whereas ra means something transient. Thus the choice is along these lines.)

This ability of man to produce, whether good or evil, is symbolized by his reproductive organs, which, when defined by sin, become "naked".

  • interesting. but whats the connection with physical nakedness?
    – ray
    Jan 17, 2017 at 18:22
  • @ray I've appended accordingly.
    – Loewian
    Jan 18, 2017 at 3:59

The text itself doesn't use the word shame (בושה, חרפה, בזיון) at all.

וַתִּפָּקַחְנָה עֵינֵי שְׁנֵיהֶם וַיֵּדְעוּ כִּי עֵירֻמִּם הֵם וַיִּתְפְּרוּ עֲלֵה תְאֵנָה וַיַּעֲשׂוּ לָהֶם חֲגֹרֹת.

Rather, as Rashi explains, this is related to their becoming aware that they had transgressed the mitzvah they possessed.

"ותפקחנה וגו'" - לענין החכמה דבר הכתוב ולא לענין ראיה ממש וסוף המקרא מוכיח

The text speaks about a concept of Wisdom and not about actually seeing. And the conclusion of the text proves this.

"וידעו כי עירומים הם" - אף הסומא יודע כשהוא ערום אלא מהו וידעו כי עירומים הם מצוה אחת היתה בידם ונתערטלו הימנה (ב"ר)

Even a blind person knows when they are naked. Rather, what does the phrase And they knew they were naked mean? They possessed one mitzvah and now they were naked of it.

Like Rashi does here, mitzvot are compared to garments (לבושים). This was the concept from the wisdom of the Torah that they recognized.

Thus, by transgressing the commandment to refrain from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they were naked. They recognized the consequence of their action.


They became self aware which resulted in the ability to distinguish between good and evil but also caused them be aware of there current situation


Rashi points out that it was not physical nakedness, but moral and spiritual, having disobeyed the one mitzvah that they had. Thus, even with the aprons they still felt naked (see below from Rav Hirsch). In fact according to this, even if they had been completely covered, head to toe, they still would have felt naked when Hashem came.


and they knew that they were naked: Even a blind man knows when he is naked! What then is the meaning of “and they knew that they were naked” ? They had one commandment in their possession, and they became denuded of it.

Additionally, when they heard Hashem, they were not embarrassed because of their nakedness, they were afraid

{Bereishis 3:10](http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8167#v=10&showrashi=true)

וַיֹּ֕אמֶר אֶת־קֹֽלְךָ֥ שָׁמַ֖עְתִּי בַּגָּ֑ן וָֽאִירָ֛א כִּֽי־עֵירֹ֥ם אָנֹ֖כִי וָאֵֽחָבֵֽא:

And he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I am naked; so I hid."

Rav Hirsch says:

This being afraid, not ashamed, proves that the consciousness of being naked has to be taken in the sense of its moral reason, as explained above in V.7. Not because of his body being naked, but because he no longer dared let his naked body be seen, was what made him afraid for himself.

Thus, he would have been afraid no matter what he was wearing and no matter how covered up he might have been. It was not a matter of denying that he had eaten, but the consciousness of having disobeyed and feeling the results of that.

Rav Hirsch in verse 7 says

But the consciousness of being naked is the consciousness that something is visible that should not be so. This is the feeling of shame, which as indicated above, has its roots in the consciousness of a person of the real calling of Man. As long as Man stands completely in the service of his Hashem, he is not to be ashamed of any part of his body. Even the bodily lures and attractions are pure and godly as long as they submit themselves as means for Hashem's holy purposes. But when this condition is not entirely there we certainly should be ashamed of displaying them. This shame awakes the voice within us, which is intimately connected with the conscience, and reminds us that we are not to be animals.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .