“Because you have done this…” (Bereishis 3:14)

Did you every wonder why the snake started off as a standing animal, and as a punishment, was confined to crawling on the ground? The Dubno Maggid explains this with a parable. There was a rich man, who happened to pass through the town in which he grew up in. He saw a relative, a fine young man, who looked very depressed. He asked “Why are you so depressed”? The young man responded, “I have found a wonderful match, and would like to marry her, but the perspective father-in-law is demanding from me a large sum of monies up-front, in order to show my financial stability. I have not been able to acquire anything near that sum, and it seems to me that I am doomed to a situation, of which I have no way out. The rich relative said “the next time I come around here, I will try to bring you some cash so that you can get married.” A short while later the rich man reappeared in town with money in his hand to fulfill his promise. But before he gave him the money, he saw the the lad as happy as can be. He asked in surprise “Why are you in such a good mood”? – to which the lad responded “I told my future father-in-law that you would supply the money necessary. For him, that was good enough and he let me marry his daughter based on the fact that the money would be coming shortly.” The wise businessman said “If that is the case, I have no need to give you the money. For once you are married to his daughter, he is not going to force a divorce over a financial shortfall.” (we are not discussing right now proper business ethics and practices.)

We as humans are influenced by our peers, and all the more so by people who we hold in high esteem. We are not at all moved by the pleas of those whom we consider far inferior to us. The normal posture of a reptile should indeed be a prone position, with his stomach on the ground, but being that the serpent’s job was the to convince Chava, it was necessary for him to have a prominent appearance in order for her to take him seriously. Thus, after the transgression, Hashem says “Now that you have fulfilled your job with the abnormal stance of an upright animal, you can resume a prone position.”

I think that this is a lesson that can help us prepare ourselves for different types of “yetzer hara” challenges that come and go. Normally, after one falls prey to the yetzer hara and does the undesired act, when he thinks about it, it just does not have the luster that it had beforehand. The reason for this is that Hashem takes away the luster aspect post-facto the transgression, and we see the sin for what it really is. I suggest that if we ever give in to our yetzer hara, that we keep the post-aveira image of the transgression in our minds, so that we ourselves should be empowered to cut the yetzer hara down to size the next time he challenges us.