Midot Hayom: Day 12: Hod in Gevurah
Rabbi Shimon ben Menasia says: What a pity that a great servant was lost to the world, for had the serpent not been cursed, every Jew would have two serpents in his home, sending one to the east and one to the west to bring him precious gems, costly pearls and every kind of precious item in the world. No creature could have harmed these serpents. Furthermore, they would have been used instead of camels, donkeys or mules, to haul manure to the gardens and orchards. (Avot of Rabbi Nathan 1:7)
Rabbi Shimon is flipping all we know upside down! He wants us to understand that Eve’s initial meeting with the serpent as an opportunity. We not only forfeit immortality and all the good of the Garden, we lost a magical creature that could have changed our lives. We are accustomed to seeing some things one way, and yet, the Sages constantly challenge us to see matters from an entirely different perspective.
They want us to appreciate each test of brought by the serpent – Evil Inclination – as an opportunity to harness that same power for good. In fact, when we make the same mistake as Eve, we not only lose the serpent, we lose two; we lose the opportunity for good as well.
We often have our assumed “definitions” which limit our perspective. Rabbi Shimon urges us to see the opportunity in every challenge and test. He challenges us to see the potential that can take us beyond our definitions.