Midot Hayom: Day 10: Tiferet in Gevurah
At the time when God wanted to pronounce Adam’s punishment the Holy One, Blessed is He, said: “If I do not punish the serpent first, I will be destroying the whole world. Rabbi Yose says: Had the serpent’s curse been written after the curses of Adam and Eve, the world would have been destroyed. (Avot of Rabbi Nathan 1:8)
The period immediately after the sin of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was a time of Din – Judgment. The Sages are teaching us that if God had changed the order of the punishments, the very balance of the world would have changed. Adam and Eve would have been in a weakened state before the serpent had been disempowered, and the world would have tilted even more toward evil. God is careful when expressing His Din – Judgment to measure each response to our actions in order to maintain a sense of balance.
We often make judgment calls, whether in response to a child’s behavior or to the words and actions of a stranger. We judge rabbis, teachers, politicians, the media, friends, enemies and more. It is tempting to express our opinions and judgments about the so-called good people, the religious and righteous. We have to remember that even our criticisms must be expressed in a manner that maintains a sense of balance between good and evil.