Bereishit: When No is Greater than Yes



What is the single most famous and impactful event in all of history, and one that gave birth to most of our major industries?

This event, documented in our Torah reading today, is the sin of Adam and Eve. The first human beings ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and were banished from Paradise – a calamity which caused man to have to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow (hence the birth of agriculture and industry), and brought on many other changes that shape our lives today.

Man had one mitzvah to keep but he couldn’t resist the temptation. But why did God have to tempt him? Why did He plant that tree in the first place if He didn’t want man to eat from it?

One seemingly inexplicable Torah verse in the Book of Genesis answers this fundamental question. Accompanied by powerful anecdotes and contemporary examples showing the power of restraint, this sermon presents a tremendous lesson for how we should conduct our lives and reveals a remarkable tool for dealing with temptation.

We usually associate success with action, aggression, initiative, movement. In our acquisition and commodity-driven world, power seems to rest in the hands of those who “go out and get it.” But, in truth, the greatest and most enduring things in life – love, truth, soulfulness, Godliness – can only emerge through doing nothing. Indeed, the lost art of restraint holds the key to life’s greatest success.


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The Meaningful Life Center