Don’t shame anyone- even a tree

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In Parshat Ekev (Dvarim 8:8), we are told that the Land of Israel is a land of the seven species: “A land of wheat and barley, and grapes and figs and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and (date) honey.”

When Adam and Chava ate from the Eitz HaDa’at (Tree of Knowldege) did they eat from one of these seven species and if so, why is the one that they ate not made clear?

The incident is found in Breisheet 3:6-7: “The woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was tempting to the eyes and that the tree was appealing as a means of obtaining wisdom. She took of its fruit and she ate, and she also gave it to her husband and he ate. The eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. They sewed together fig leaves, and made for themselves loincloths.”

Why does the Torah tell us that fig leaves they used to make clothing?

At first glance it would seem that fig leaves were used since they are very large so they make a good choice for a cover up.

According to Rashi, the Torah specifies fig leaves since that is the tree from which they ate.

Rashi quotes the Talmud, Sanhedrin 70b: “with that which they sinned they set themselves aright.”

Why is the name of the tree not specifically revealed?

Rashi explains that this is because God does not want to grieve any being. He did not want the tree not be shamed by people saying, “This is the one through which the world was stricken.”

We learn from the fig that if we are not supposed to shame a tree, then we certainly are not supposed to shame a person.

Of course, as the saying goes: two Jews, three opinions. Not everyone agrees that they ate from the fig tree. In the Talmud, Brachot 40a, Rabbi Meir says that it was a grapevine, for there is nothing that brings as much wailing upon man as wine does. Rabbi Yehuda says that it was a wheat stalk.

Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda may have brought up these other opinions to take some of the heat off of the fig.

In any case, whichever fruit it was, it was not removed from the list of the seven species of Israel which are praised and respected throughout the TaNaCh.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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