What was Adam’s Purpose Before the Sin of the Forbidden Fruit?

By Yehuda Shurpin


If part of Man’s purpose is to rectify the world from the effects of the sin of the forbidden fruit, what was Adam’s job before he sinned?


Man was created for the specific purpose of revealing G‑dliness in this world. Even with regards to Adam before he sinned, the verse states, “Now the L‑rd G‑d took the man, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.”

The work referred to here isn’t the physical labor of cultivating and caring for a field, for what labor was needed on a land that produced its produce almost instantly? Rather, the sages explain, it refers to spiritual labor.

Man’s purpose (including Adam’s before the sin) is to reveal G‑dliness in this world, as well as to refine the world and elevate it to a higher spiritual level.

The Torah itself provides us with a fascinating illustration of what Adam’s job was to be before he sinned with the forbidden fruit and was exiled from the Garden of Eden. The verse tells us, “And G‑d Almighty formed from the earth every beast of the field and every fowl of the heavens, and He brought [it] to man to see what he would call it, and whatever the man called each living thing, that was its name. And man named all the cattle and the fowl of the heavens and all the beasts of the field.”

Lest one think that this was an easy and simple endeavor, in the midrash our sages expound, “…brought each creature before the angels and asked them, ‘This creature, what is its name?’ But they did not know. Then He brought the creatures before Adam and asked him, ‘This creature, what is its name?’ To which Adam responded, ‘This is shor [Hebrew for ox], this is chamor [donkey]…’

This of course brings us to the question of why? What was so special about naming the animals that only man could do it?

Every single creation, even a single blade of grass, has its own unique energy source in the spiritual realms.

The true name of an object connects the object with its spiritual source. Angels, which are of course spiritual beings, lack the capacity to connect the spiritual with the physical, since they lack the capacity to deal directly with the physical and mundane coarseness of creation. The last time angels descended to immerse themselves completely in this physical mundane world it had disastrous consequences.

In all of creation only man, Adam, has the power to connect the physical and mundane with its spiritual source. This is due to the uniqueness of man, who is a physical creation with a body and at the same time contains a G‑dly soul. As the Midrash puts it, “Adam was created both from the upper realms and the lower realms,” and it is for this reason that only Adam could give the animals their true names.

This was man’s job in the Garden of Eden. Even more so, now after the sin, it is our job to connect the spiritual with the mundane and coarse world.