No one but Hashem

The Gemora lists various explanations for the verse that refers to the reward which is unseen by anyone but Hashem. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says that this unseen reward is wine that has been aged since creation. The Maharsha explains that creation was ex nihilo – something from nothing, which is above the perception of anything in the world but Hashem. Since it was from creation, it preceded Adam before the sin, while he was still in Gan Eden, and could not even be perceived by him.

The Sefer Ikarim says that the comparison to wine is due to its relation to grapes. Someone who has never experienced wine cannot imagine that the grapes can produce something that is even more enjoyable. Similarly, one who exists in the physical world cannot perceive how physical acts of mitzvos can lead to a higher level of enjoyment in the spiritual realm.


Gan and Eden

By: Rabbi Binyomin Adler

The verse says that no one but Hashem ever saw the ultimate reward. Rabbi Chiya bar Abba quotes Rabbi Yochanan, who explained this verse refers to three limitations on the prophecies recorded by the prophets:

1. The prophets only referred to the Messianic era, but the world to come has never been perceived. The Gemora notes that this differs with Shmuel, who says that the Messianic era will be the same natural order, but with the Jews not subjugated by the nations.

2. The prophets only referred to repentant sinners, but the righteous who never sinned will receive a reward only perceived by Hashem. The Gemora notes that this differs with Rabbi Avahu, who says that repentant sinners are superior to righteous who never sinned.

3. The prophets referred to one who has favorable interactions with Torah scholars, e.g., marrying off a daughter to one, and giving them business. However, only Hashem perceives the reward awaiting Torah scholars themselves.

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi explains that this reward that only Hashem perceives is wine aged since creation, while Raish Lakish explains it is the Eden region, as Adam only lived in its garden, but not the region itself.

It is interesting to note that the Gemora distinguishes between Eden and the Garden. We are apt to refer to the location of eternal reward as Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden. Is this a misnomer, or is there a deeper understanding concerning these distinct terminologies?

There is a kabalistic statement[1] that the word oneg[2], which means delight, is an acrostic for the words Eden, Nahar, and Gan. Although the explanation for this idea is beyond the scope of this exegesis, there is a fundamental concept that can be easily understood. The word Eden is defined as a form of pleasure, as it is said:[3] after I have withered shall I again have delicate (Edna) skin? Nahar means river, and Gan means garden. What is the association between these three words? Pleasure has a source, and that is Eden, and that pleasure is continuous, like a flowing river. How does one arrive at this pleasure? We are familiar with the term Oneg Shabbos, which means delighting in the Sabbath. How does one derive pleasure from Shabbos? The Sfas Emes[4] writes that the Gemora[5] does not state that one who delights in the Shabbos for his personal pleasure merits all of his desires being fulfilled. Rather, it states that one who delights in the Shabbos will merit his desires being fulfilled. If one recognizes that the source of the pleasure is the Shabbos, which is the present that Hashem proffered to the Jewish People[6], then he will be rewarded with the dividends of Shabbos.

It is important to recognize that Shabbos is not merely a day like any other day of the week. Regarding Shabbos it is said:[7] Hashem said to Moshe saying: Now you speak to the Children of Israel, saying: ‘However, you must observe My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I am Hashem, who makes you holy’. Rabbi Yehonasan Eibshetz[8] writes that because Shabbos is a protection from the nations of the world, one must be well versed in the laws of Shabbos, and furthermore, that he delights in the Shabbos.

With this idea we can explain what appears to be a discrepancy in Scripture. First it is said:[9] Hashem G-d planted a garden in Eden, to the east, and placed (vayasem) there the man whom He had formed. In the subsequent verse it is said:[10] Hashem G-d took the man and placed him (vayanecheihu) in the Garden of Eden, to work it and to guard it. Why in the first verse does it state vayasem and in the second verse the word vayanecheihu is used? The answer is that the Medrash states[11] that vayanecheihu is a reference to Shabbos, which is called Yom Hamenucha, a day of rest. Initially, Hashem placed Adam in the Garden without any responsibilities. This is similar to the ‘gift’ of Shabbos. Then Hashem willed that Adam appreciate the gift, and he gave him the commandment of Shabbos to fulfill. Adam was banished from Gan Eden before Shabbos. Apparently, in order for one to benefit from Shabbos, one has to understand its laws and appreciate the pleasure of this Holy Day. May we all merit the day that will be all Shabbos.


Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi interpreted the verse no eye has seen to be said concerning wine preserved in its grapes since the six days of Creation. What is so significant about wine preserved in its grapes? In order to understand this cryptic statement, we must first examine the impact of wine in Judaism. The Vilna Gaon was of the opinion that one should not eat grapes on Rosh Hashanah[12]. The reason for this is based on kabalistic teachings, but perhaps there is a simple understanding to this also. The Medrash[13] states that according to one opinion, Chava squeezed grapes and gave the juice to Adam to drink. This was the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad. Adam and Chava were created on Rosh Hashanah,[14] so it would follow that we should not eat grapes on that day as that would serve as a reminder of their sin. The difficulty with this explanation is that we drink wine on Rosh Hashanah, and from the Medrash it is clear that Chava gave Adam the juice from the grapes and not the grapes themselves.

Wine that is preserved in its grapes is a metaphor for modesty. After the flood, it is said:[15] Noach, the man of the earth, debased himself and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent. Rashi writes: it [his tent] is written oholo, and this alludes to the Ten Tribes who were called on the name of Shomron that is referred to as Oholo. The Ten Tribes were exiled because of wine, as it is said:[16] who drink wine out of bowls…. [anoint themselves with choicest oils, and are not pained by the destruction of Yosef. Therefore, they will now be exiled at the heads of the exiles, and the banquets of the haughty will cease]. The Maharal[17] is bothered that the Medrash,[18] which appears to be the source of Rashi’s words, does not use the word oholo to derive this teaching. The Medrash states that the Torah does not state vayigal, which would imply that Noach alone was affected by his nakedness. Rather, it states vayisgal, which implies that his nakedness affected his whole tent, i.e. all future generations[19].

Perhaps we can suggest an answer to the Maharal’s question. Rashi specifically derived this exegesis from the word oholo, because there were two aspects to Noach’s disgrace. One element was that he was uncovered, and the second was that he was uncovered in his tent. The word ohel in Tanach refers to modesty[20]. By intoxicating himself with wine, Noach left the arena of modesty. This behavior was a sign that his descendants would also forsake the modest lifestyle and be exiled. We are accustomed to viewing modesty in areas of dress and behavior. There is another modesty, and that is the inner modesty of a person, as it is said:[21] when a willful sinner comes, shame comes, but with modest ones comes wisdom. This modesty is symbolized by wine that is preserved in its grapes. When the Medrash states that Chava squeezed grapes and gave Adam the juice to drink, this means that she was shedding the modesty of wisdom that had been granted to them by Hashem. It is said:[22] and the woman perceived that the tree was good for eating and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a means to wisdom, and she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked; and they sewed together a fig leaf and made themselves aprons. It is fascinating that upon eating from the fruit of the tree, it states that their eyes were opened (vatipukachna). This is similar to what the Gemora[23] states: wine and scents enlighten (pikchin). In this case, the wine opened their eyes and they realized that they had shed the cloak of inner modesty. The Gemora states[24] enter wine, exit secret. This statement has many ramifications, but in the simple sense it can be understood to mean that by imbibing wine, the secret of creation departs.

Now we can begin to comprehend the statement of the Gemora: What is that which no eye has seen? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: This is wine preserved in its grapes since the six days of Creation. The wisdom of creation will only be revealed in the World to Come. The experience of Adam and Chava in Gan Eden was akin to the World to Come, as the Gemora states further: Rish Lakish says: This is Eden, which no eye has ever seen. The Arizal[25] writes that had Adam waited until Shabbos to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, he never would have been exiled from Gan Eden. The lack of inner modesty, i.e. concealing the wisdom that Hashem had bestowed upon them, was what catalyzed their exile. Similarly, the lack of modesty displayed by Noach affected the future generations, and they went into exile.

When we recite Kiddush on Friday night, it is important to have in mind that we are sanctifying the Shabbos through wine, and this will lead to the rectification of Adam and Chava’s sin and the ultimate redemption speedily in our days.

Please, Please

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

The Chida writes: “I have heard in the name of previous great teachers z”l that Moshe was given this secret in Heaven, that when he would pray and say na – ‘please’ twice, his prayer would be accepted and therefore he prayed, ‘Please, Hashem, please heal her.’ But when he prayed to enter Eretz Israel and said, ‘Please let me cross over and see…’, Hashem told him, ‘Don’t continue to speak to me about this matter (lit. with this word)’ – especially ‘with this word’, that he shouldn’t mention ‘please’ again” (Nachal Kedumim, Beha’alosecha).

The Name Is Still Hinted

When praying for one’s fellow one doesn’t need to mention his name as is written “Please G-d, please heal her” without mentioning Miriam’s name.

Still, her name and mother’s name are hinted: the numerical equivalent of refa na (“please heal”) is that of Miryam Yocheved! (Degel Machaneh Efrayim, Beha’alosecha).

A Kabbalist Or Not

A person who pretended to be a Kabbalist came to Rabbi Aizel Charif zt”l and requested an approbation for his book. Even after much pleading, Rabbi Aizel refused. People asked him why and he replied, “Last night I saw him as a shliach tzibur and becoming confused in his prayer as though he didn’t know the meaning of the words and Chazal said, ‘If my prayer is fluent, I know that he is mekubal (“accepted” or “a Kabbalist”) and if not…’.”

[1] Zohar Breishis 1:26; See Rabbeinu Bachye Shemos 20:8, Rashi to Tehillim 46:5

[2] Spelled in Hebrew: ayin, nun, gimel

[3] Breishis 18:6

[4] Bamidbar 5738

[5] Shabbos 118b

[6] Ibid 10b

[7] Shemos 31:12-13

[8] Yaaros Devash Volume 2 Derush 3

[9] Breishis 2:8

[10] Ibid verse 15

[11] Yalkut Shimoni Breishis 2: 22

[12] Maaseh Rav

[13] Breishis Rabbah 19:5; see also Sanhedrin 70a

[14] See Rosh Hashanah 27a

[15] Breishis 9:19-20

[16] Amos 6:6

[17] Gur Aryeh Ibid

[18] Breishis Rabbah 36:4

[19] Yefe Toar ibid

[20] An example of this is when the angels queried Avrohom Avinu as to Sarah’s whereabouts, he responded (Breishis 18:9) hinei b’ohel, “behold, in the tent”

[21] Mishlei 11:2

[22] Breishis 3:6-7

[23] Sanhedrin 70a

[24] Ibid

[25] Shaar Hakavanos Drushei Rosh Hashanah Drush 1


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