The smell of Eden

Dov Halickman
Dov Halickman

In Parshat Toldot (Breisheet 27:15), Rivka dresses Yaakov in Esav’s garments in order to make sure that Yaakov receives the better blessing: “Rivka took the garments of Esav, her elder son, that were coveted (hachamudot), that were in her keeping in the house and put them on Yaakov, her younger son.”

Breisheet Rabba 65:16 teaches that the coveted garments were the garments that God made for Adam and Chava in the Garden of Eden (Breisheet 3:21, “And God made for Adam and his wife leather coats and he clothed them.”) According to Pirkei D’Rebi Eliezer 21, these garments were taken on the ark and after the flood, Cham, Noach’s son gave them to Nimrod. Esav saw Nimrod with the garments, coveted them, killed Nimrod and took the garments. Esav kept the special clothing at his parent’s home and wore them to serve his father.

In Breisheet 27:26-27, we read: “His father Yitzchak said to him ‘Come close to me and kiss me, my son.’ He came close and kissed him. He (Yitzchak) smelled the fragrance of his garments and he blessed him. He said, ‘See, my son’s fragrance is like the fragrance of the field blessed by God.’”

In the Talmud, Taanit 29b, Rav Yehuda the son of Rav Shmuel bar Shilat said in the name of Rav: The garments smell like the fragrance of a field of tapuchim.

Tapuchim in Modern Hebrew mean apples, but the original meaning was a swelled fruit. We see this even today with the Hebrew names for potatoes and oranges which are also variations on the word “tapuach”, tapuach adama, tapucha zahav=tapuz.

Tosafot interpret the word tapuchim in the Talmud, Taanit 29b and Shabbat 88a as etrogim (not apples as we know them today) whose fruit precedes its leaves. The etrog, hadar is unique as the fruit remains (dar) on the tree from year to year.

The Targum on Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) 2:3 translates tapuach as etrog. Later, in 2:5 it is translated as k’tapuchei gunata d’Eden, the tapuach of the Garden of Eden (not ordinary apples). Further, in 7:9 the unique smell of the fruit is specifically singled out.

In Breisheet (3:6), we read about the forbidden fruit: “The woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was tempting to the eyes and that the tree was desireable (nechmad)…”

According to Ramban, Vayikra 23:40, etrog, pri etz hadar which is called “nechmad”, desireable is from the same root as chamudot, coveted.

Since the garments were “chamudot”, there is a good chance that they smelled like the coveted fruit.

The etrog has a very strong smell and the miracle of the garments which came from the Garden of Eden was that the fragrance remained for so many years. Even Esav, the hunter smelled good when he wore them.

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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