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Bereishit: Mitzvah 1 – Concept 125: Two Women Who Changed The World



We are commanded to be fruitful and multiply. (Genesis 1:28, Rambam, Hilchot Ishut – The Laws of Marriage) Adah and Tzillah are the first two people described as committed to fulfilling this commandment, and, they had an opportunity to repair Eve’s mistake:

“Lamech took to himself two wives: The name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Tzillah.” (Genesis 4:19) The people of the generation of the Flood would take two wives, one to bear children, and the other would drink a potion to render her childless so that she would never lose her figure. Adah was meant to bear children for Lamech, and she lost her good figure. She was “Adah,” as in turned away, from her husband. Tzillah, however, drank the potion and was pampered like a bride. She lived in the “Tzeil,” the shadow, of her husband, constantly at his side.

“And Adah bore Jabal…the name of his brother was Jubal. And Tzillah too, she bore Tubal-Cain…” (Verses 20-22) How did Tzillah bear a son after drinking the potion?

“And Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Tzillah, hear my voice…” (Verse 23) Lamech accidentally killed Cain and Tubal-Cain. They refused to live with him ‘once they fulfilled the Mitzvah of “Be fruitful and multiply,” because they knew that all were destined to die, and did not want to bring more children into the world! We can infer that they were willing to have children they knew would die, in order to fulfill the Mitzvah!

These women, who were so committed to the Mitzvah are credited with the “Be fruitful and multiply” of the entire world: Rashi says that it was they who convinced Adam to reconnect with Eve and have more children!

We have two incredible women. They were people who lived their commitment to the Mitzvah despite knowing what would happen to their children! They convinced Adam to populate the world. Tzillah drank the potion of barreness and was still able to bear Tubal-Cain.

Where did they fail? A woman who can bear a child even after making herself barren, should have no doubt that the laws of life as she knew them were not absolute. The mother of Tubal-Cain should not have accepted that her children were all destined to die.

This was the secret of the women in Egypt who did all they could to continue having children even after their husbands had given up all hope on the future.

This Mitzvah is a statement that we believe in the future, and that all rules of life can be shattered.

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