My kid asked:

I understand that Adam and Eve violated God's command by eating from the tree of knowledge and thus deserved punishment: as described in Genesis, Adam would have to work for his food and Eve would have a long and difficult birthing process.

But we didn't eat from the tree! We shouldn't be punished! Why do we get those punishments?

  • 1
    These are natural consequences in the nature of humanity. If eating allowed the yetzer hara to be internalized then that is a truth for all people going forward, not as a punishment but as an end result.
    – rosends
    Dec 17, 2018 at 11:46
  • Exactly. Unfortunately we have to carry the curse of the yetzer hara with us. In a sense, it's a consequence and a punishment. But through punishment we repent. There is the common saying 'a real baal tshuvah stands where the tzaddik can not stand'. Adam, the first human in existence was the ultimate tzaddik. Then befell him the sin. Ever since, every single one of us has the responsibilty to do tshuvah. In many aspects.
    – Ilja
    Dec 17, 2018 at 14:21
  • to pay the sin of fathers is natural, not sgula. If a father get down socially, the son is poor. If a fathe educated the son in a wrong way, the son needs to pay the result of the education he received practically. A secular example. If the father goes to live in a bad country and a bad cultural level, the son needs to deal with this.
    – kouty
    May 20, 2019 at 5:58

1 Answer 1

  1. I think a simple answer would be that for Adam that tasted the good life in Gan Eden it was a real downgrade and can be considered a punishment, but for us, that know no other way of living - it's just the reality, not a punishment, nobody promised us Gan Eden.

  2. Another reason is that the sin was so enormous that Adam alone could not "repay" it, therefore all his descendants repay his sin, little by little.

  3. Yet another approach, Adam thought it was no fun staying in Gan Eden, he wanted some real challenge so he can prove his good qualities and powers (and make his Neshomo ascend higher). That's why he decided on "sinning" and turn the world to more challenging and thus giving us more opportunity to do Mitzvos and study Torah.

  • 1
    #1 and 3 explain why we don't live in Eden, but I think the question was about earning bread and painful pregnancy. Do you have answers that apply to those?
    – b a
    Dec 17, 2018 at 10:04
  • Sources would improve this answer. Or are these all your own ideas?
    – msh210
    Dec 17, 2018 at 10:34
  • 1
    #2 seems a bit contrary to Jewish thought. לא ימותו אבות על בנים ובנים לא יומתו על אבות איש בחטאו יומת. (From Devarim 24:16. Before you ask the contradiction from Shemos 34:7, Sanhedrin 27b beat you to it - it’s only when they follow in their fathers’ footsteps that they are punished for their sins as well.) #3 on the other hand is exactly Rav Dessler’s understanding of the incident.
    – DonielF
    Dec 17, 2018 at 13:29
  • @DonielF What about the golden calf? וביום פקדי ופקדתי עליהם חטאתם
    – b a
    Dec 19, 2018 at 23:56
  • @ba I’d have to see the passuk in context. I suspect that’s more to the effect of Al’s #1, that once Bnei Yisrael sinned, they regained the Zuhama, etc., etc. - not a punishment, but the natural consequences of their sin. Similar answer for the selling of Yosef, or any other national sin for which their descendants suffer - either it’s not a punishment, or they’re following in their ancestors’ footsteps and therefore suffer for their sins as well.
    – DonielF
    Dec 20, 2018 at 0:02

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