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Why did Adam and Eve become aware of their nakedness only after they sinned?

Why did Adam and Eve become aware of their nakedness only after they sinned?

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Question:

I'm studying to teach my children about the bible and creation but I can't seem to get past Genesis 2!

In Genesis 2 it says that Adam and Eve were both originally naked, "but they were not ashamed." After they ate of the Tree of Knowledge, we are told that "the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked."

Here is my question: Was the act of being naked a sinful thing? Why would G‑d have allowed them to walk around naked to start with if it was sinful? And if it was originally fine, how did their disobedience cause their nakedness to not be so good?

What am I missing?

Answer:

Your perceptive question is addressed by almost all the biblical commentaries… On the second verse you quote, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked," Rashi, the primary commentator on the Torah points out, "even a blind person knows when he is naked." So what was it that they realized here?

Little children are notorious for trying to shed their clothes and run around naked. This is done with total innocence; the two-year-old does not see any difference between his face, his knees, and the parts of his body which we adults insist that he cover. Only adults feel that certain parts of the body must be covered. Why? Because those are connected with physical lust and passions, and should not be exposed.

Prior to their sin, Adam and Eve knew good from bad, right from wrong, but they had not internalized an evil inclination. So they could choose to do right and wrong, and were held responsible for their choices, but the urge to do evil did not come from within. This urge was represented by the serpent—the external tempter. Since the evil did not reside within them, they were "naturally" good, and their nakedness was innocent and in no way sinful. They saw no difference between a hand, whose purpose was to give charity and to do good deeds, a mouth with which one praises G‑d and says kind words to others, and the parts of the body which are used to "be fruitful and multiply." With every organ they could fulfill the will of G‑d or vice versa, so no organ was shameful, nor did anything need to be covered.

When they ate of the Tree of Knowledge, the evil inclination became a part of them. No longer did they need an external tempter to incite them to sin—now, that tempter resided within their psyches. And specifically, sexual passion – a passion which is much stronger than the desire to give charity or praise G‑d, a passion which is much more encompassing and has the potential to be seriously misused – became a part of them as well.

Hence the abovementioned verse. "The eyes of both of them were opened" – they became aware of physical lust "and they realized that they were naked" – and only now it was inappropriate for them to be unclothed.

I hope this has been helpful.

Chaya Sarah Silberberg,
Chabad.org

Chaya Sarah Silberberg serves as the rebbetzin of the Bais Chabad Torah Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan, since 1975. She also counsels, lectures, writes, and responds for Chabad.org’s Ask the Rabbi service.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (24)
January 3, 2013
Same root word
I just found out that the Heb word for "naked" has the same root at the word for "aware."
Stephen Boggan
Paso Robles
January 3, 2013
The answer was more than right and on the point it's good to debate, but sometimes the truth is just the truth.
ca butler
jax, fl
October 23, 2012
BUT...
But the argument in the answer is flawed. Adam and Eve did not know good from bad. God said it himself: And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." - and it's not man's fault for being ignorant because God made him that way. Or another thing: if they were "naturally good" then they could do no evil except when forced by an outside agent (the serpent). So again it's not man's fault if he was forced. And another thing if they were innocent and when they ate the apple they internalized evil why did God punish them? He could have removed the evil and not put evil in the garden of Eden in the first place. This last one seems like God's very sick joke. Also why did God create evil? If He is truly omnipotent then there is no reason for it whatsoever except if He is a sadist (but then He would not be all loving)... swiss cheese anyone?
Marco Polo
Iasi, Romania
August 26, 2012
When we know the truth
You don't put something that can alter the consciousness of people you created if you didn't plan for it to happen. Thats just like someone placing mines in the ground outside their house & not expect anyone to step on them & explode. The God I believe in plans out things to perfection. The question is, what is the contingency plan. How does the human race overcome it's nature to sin?
zanoah
jacksonville , Florida
May 29, 2012
To Stephen Boggan
The Tanach is part : Genealogy; Drama; Lawmaking and Interpretation; Jurisprudence; Romance; War Battles; Power Dynamics; Place naming; Object Referencing; Chronology of Actual Events; Prophecy; Allegory; Metaphor ; VI’s and Wise Counsel. It is an attempt to make sense of the universe. Weighing up the relevance of the different pieces should be left to very wise souls. The Tanach is the most important book in the world. The 79,976 words of the Pentateuch assume primacy. The "value" of all communications can be rated. Certain words carry more weight than others.

This section of Genesis describes the various layers of consciousness. G-d is the superset of all consciousness whilst man is the subset. Also a child is born pure, innocent and free with a perfect sense of sovereignty, i.e. he/she knows what is right and wrong ethically and thus they are in Ganeden like state. This purity of boundaries can be violated by trauma and by the incorrect inquiries and thoughts of man.
Adam Neira
Paris, France
May 27, 2012
Like God?
If the knowledge of good and evil was an evil inclination, why does God say that "the man has become like us, knowing good and evil" since God above all is not inclined to do evil?
Stephen Boggan
Paso Robles, CA
January 2, 2012
To evolve or not to evolve...
A scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules (called scientific laws) that express relationships between observations of such concepts. A scientific theory is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena.
A scientific theory is a type of inductive theory, in that its content (i.e. empirical data) could be expressed within some formal system of logic whose elementary rules (i.e. scientific laws) are taken as axioms.
If one wishes to believe that evolution is "only a theory" they ought to take a course in the differences between "just a theory" and a scientific theory. I've no problem with Darwin, but I will accept his supposed "lies" than your inability to understand what a scientific theory is. I am a Jew. I also a scientist. Where did Darwin lie?
Barucha bat Etta Gold
Hurst, Texas
December 30, 2011
Adam and eve ashamed of being naked
They could have never been ashamed when their eyes were opened, because to be ashamed they would have had to know another accepted form of appearance. Since they were the only two people on Earth and the animals were naked, their appearance would have seemed in accordance with their environment. The emotion of shame would have not come into existence until they knew otherwise.
Paul Manocchio
Van Nuys, CA
May 25, 2011
Blessings J777
Right back atcha!
Adam Tousley
San Clemente, CA
May 25, 2011
Thank you
Thank you so much for giving me clarity on this subject, this article has definitely been a great help to me !! May the Lord bless you in abundance, Adam Tousley !!!
J777
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