The first in a series for the bar/bat mitzvah parent on quick, concise and meaningful messages from the weekly Torah portion. They’re messages appropriate for any background – and appropriate to give in a speech to your young man or woman embarking on a journey through the teenage years.


Everyone knows that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge and got kicked out of the Garden of Eden. But what happened in between the eating and the getting kicked out? Well, there was this conversation between G-d, Adam and Eve. It went something like this:

G-d: Where are you, Adam?

Adam: I heard Your voice, G-d, and I got scared because I was naked. So I hid.

G-d: Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

Pause conversation. What would be the most logical thing for Adam to say here? “Yes, G-d, I did. Sorry.”

But that’s not what happens. Resume conversation.

Adam: That woman You gave me, G-d – SHE gave me from the tree and I ate.

G-d: Eve? What did you do?

Pause conversation. Let’s ask again: what should Eve say here? “Sorry, G-d – I ate from the tree and gave some to my husband. I guess I messed up.”

Nope. Resume conversation.

Eve: The snake tempted me and I ate.

End conversation. G-d doesn’t even bother talking to the snake. There’s no one he can pass the buck to, anyway. Everyone gets punished, including but not limited to being kicked out of the Garden of Eden,

Where did Adam and Eve go wrong? Yeah, eating from the tree was where they went wrong, but that wasn’t the end of it. G-d gives Adam and Eve a chance to ‘fess up, to take responsibility for their actions. And they pass it up and try to pass the buck. “It was the woman.” “It was the snake.”

Had they actually taken the opportunity and admitted their mistake – would things have been different? Would they still have been kicked out of the Garden of Eden?

Becoming a Jewish adult is about taking responsibility for your actions. If you make a mistake – and we all make mistakes – ‘fess up. Don’t even wait for someone to push you to the wall about it – and all the more so if they do. Don’t pass the buck. People will respect you for being an adult about it – and you’ll respect yourself.

Mazel tov!