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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.
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Discussion (32)
January 25, 2016
So wouldn't that mean those who can be naked with others with out constantly being intimate are right it in the eyes of the lord?
troy huyser
nantucket
December 22, 2015
The implications of this are interesting, because it said, that God said, now they have become like us, knowing good from evil. So if eating made them inherently evil, and God said eating made them like Him, then is God inherently evil too? Well we know good and evil come from God, since there is no other source for any phenomenon in all of existence. So I do not think this is the Answer. I think that we used to all live in harmony with God, and that God's will was done, because we all flowed with God, it said they walked in the Garden with Him, like they were on the same plane of existence. But then the knowledge of Good and Evil, meant we didn't naturally do God's will, we saw other options, had our own will, with this knowledge of good and evil, problem with that is, is that humans cannot ultimately know what is Good or evil, because we cannot see down the road far enough to understand the consequences of our choices. So we run from suffering thinking that is Good, and
Wendy
July 5, 2015
Then why do people in Africa and in the Amazon still run around naked and feel no shame?
Anonymous
Chilliwack
June 19, 2015
"naked"
To add to what "Anonymous Dracula" said, I came here with a the same question, as I have heard that, "G-d created birds with feathers, animals with fur, so he didn't exactly create man completely naked, i.e., according to Psalm 8 he was "crowned with glory. . ." indicating a covering. I would like to know if that is a correct interpretation. This has been the most informative and enlightening article I have read on the subject, thank you so much.
Tresha
95388
February 26, 2015
Something I heard that makes a great deal of sense to me is that when God created them in His image, Adam and Eve were created with the Shikina Glory. Once they sinned, it was removed from them. Therefore their eyes were opened to their nakedness, because it was only then that they were truly naked. While this is something I have found intriguing, it is not necessarily given as fact in scripture. But, It certainly makes sense.
Anonymous
Dacula
January 27, 2015
The sexualisation of the naked body. Nakedness wss natural but as soon as they had sex they sexualised themselves to save the nakedness only for sex . You see it a lot today.. no one wants to see people naked because they sexualise it instead of seeing it for just what it is
Anonymous
November 25, 2014
The answer is quite simple my friend, The problem was not their nakedness (Awareness) at all, the problem was the act of rebellion to God's order. To eat of the tree despite His mandate not to.

Their hiding was their consciousness of them sinning against God. And the consequences of Sure Death that would follow. One can conclude this after understanding that both Adam and Eve felt emotions they never knew before, And if shame was visible, I submit to you that so was fear, and anxiety, anger and frustration. And I bet they felt them all.
Anonymous
Los Angeles
September 8, 2014
Adam and Eve's nakedness
They did not have or need material covering because the glory of the image of God covered them, the light of righteousness surrounded them. When they sinned they lost that divine image and glory.
Art
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