When challenged by G-d as to how he could have eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam replies, “The women, whom You gave to be with me – she gave me of the fruit and I ate.” (Gen 3:12.) Rashi, quoting the Talmud, tersely comments: “Here Adam shows his ingratitude.”

If, in the biblical account, Adam is supposed to be the first man, created by G-d Himself, how could he display such an ungratefulness to G-d who had given him life and a wife?

The Sefer Hachinuch (13th century) observes that qualities like gratitude are learned behavior. We acquire them through observing commandments like honoring parents. Daily acknowledgment from a young age, through kibbud av va’em, of the debt we owe to our parents for having brought us into this world, develops a sensitization to the debt we owe to those around us, and ultimately to G-d.

The bible presents Adam as a fully formed adult. Notwithstanding his unique provenance, he never went through the life experience of honoring a mother and a father. Hence, he lacks the capacity for gratitude a normal person would have gained.

Dayan Ivan Binstock