This is the 2nd section of this teaching, click here to read Part 1

The Arizal will now discuss the evolution of the primordial sin.

In the beginning, the first damage occurred when the moon accused [G‑d].

G‑d made the two great luminaries - the greater light to rule the day, and the smaller light to rule the night. (Gen. 1:16) The sun and the moon are first called "the two great luminaries," implying that they were originally the same size [i.e. they were both equally "great"]. But, the Sages tell us that the moon immediately protested over having to rule jointly with the sun, so G‑d diminished it, leaving "a greater light to rule the day, and a smaller light to rule the night."

Obviously, the Sages do not mean to tell us that the moon was petty or jealous in the conventional sense. Rather, what we are witnessing here is part of the process through which G‑d established the duality in Creation between male/female (or giver/recipient). He intended from the outset that there be a greater and a smaller luminary, one radiating and one reflective. Since both are necessary components of Creation, there is no intrinsic superiority of one over the other; from G‑d's perspective, they are both "great luminaries". Still, in the context of Creation, there is an implied superiority of the giver over the recipient, and, in order for the creative drama to unfold, Creation's perspective must be allowed to prevail over the Creator's. Thus, as soon as it was created, the moon was immediately diminished. (Cf. Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol. 30, pp. 8-15.)

This "sin" of the moon and its subsequent banishment from the daytime is seen as the precursor to the sin of Adam and Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and their subsequent banishment from the Garden of Eden.

Thus, it is written, "Let there be luminaries [in the heavenly sky]," (Gen. 1:15) the word for "luminaries" being written without the expected vav's, so that it may be read "curse", as in "The curse of G‑d is upon the house of the wicked". (Proverbs 3:33) And immediately after this, [the luminaries] are referred to as being "greater" and "lesser".

The Hebrew word for "luminaries", "me'orot", is usually spelled mem-alef-vav-reish-vav-tav. Here, it is spelled mem-alef-reish-vav. It may be read as the construct of the Hebrew word for curse", "me'eirah", spelled mem-alef-reish-hei."

The spelling of the word for "luminaries" thus alludes to the inherent proto-defect of self-awareness implied by the duality of male-female.

This defect could have been easily rectified, since it was not caused by human beings [but rather by G‑d Himself]. And had Adam kept his one commandment, he would indeed have rectified it. But this did not happen; rather, Adam came and made things worse.

Adam's one commandment was not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil for three hours, i.e. until the Sabbath, when it would have become permitted.

Cain and Abel also damaged [reality]. [Not only Cain but also] Abel "gazed and damaged".

According to the Sages, when Abel offered his sacrifice to G‑d, he gazed upon the Divine Presence and therefore became incurred the death penalty (which is why it was divine providence that Cain killed him). Gazing upon the Divine Presence means experiencing divine consciousness for selfish intentions. The individual considers himself an independent agent who may rightfully pursue his own satisfaction. Having chosen to sunder himself from G‑d, the source of life, he forfeits life - even if the object of his satisfaction is none other than the Divine glory!

This is the mystical meaning of the phrase: And G‑d paid heed to Abel and his offering (Gen. 4:4). We would have expected this phrase to read: "And G‑d paid heed to Abel's offering." The meaning of G‑d turning to Abel here is that He allowed him to gaze [on the Divine Presence].

Abel should have demurred, aware that it doing this would cause him to experience G‑dliness as one separate from it. Indeed, when Moses realized that the burning bush was a revelation of G‑d, he "hid his face, for he was afraid of gazing at G‑d." (Commentary of Rabbi Shalom Sharabi on Ex. 3:6.)

But to Cain and to his offering [G‑d] paid no heed. (Gen. 4:5) G‑d did not accept Cain's sacrifice, and did not allow him to gaze [on His presence].

Just as in the preceding verse, the unexpected phraseology "…to Abel and to his offering" implies that G‑d allowed Abel to gaze, in this verse, the unexpected "…to Cain and to his offering" indicates G‑d's response to Cain's desire to behold His presence.

But in accepting Abel's offering, [G‑d allowed him] to gaze. By [succumbing to] the temptation [to do so, Abel incurred the death penalty and] was killed.

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Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim, parashat Yitro; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Reprinted with permission from Chabad of California. Copyright 2004 by Chabad of California, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, without permission, in writing, from Chabad of California, Inc.