The Blame GameOctober 17, 2012 - 5:00 am
“The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” — Genesis 3:12–13
The Torah portion for this week, B’reisheet, is from Genesis 1:1—6:8 and Isaiah 42:5—43:10.
Maybe you remember playing this clapping game as a child: everyone sits in circle and claps rhythmically as one person begins to chant, “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? Who me? Couldn’t be.” Then that person calls out the name of another person in the circle and announces, “Debby stole the cookie from the cookie jar.” And so the game continues with each person pointing to another as the cookie thief!
It’s a cute childhood game, but it points to an underlying inclination of our human nature —to play the blame-game when something goes awry. No one likes to admit when they are wrong. It’s much easier to blame it on someone, something, the weather – anything! It’s no wonder that we have a tendency to shirk responsibility for our actions. We’ve been doing it since the beginning of time.
According to Jewish tradition, Adam and Eve had been alive for less than a day when they made their first mistake. They were told very clearly to stay away from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. But as we all know, a snake came by and enticed Eve to eat from the forbidden fruit, which she subsequently gave to her husband to eat as well. The damage was done, and God came to confront them.
And what did they say? “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”
And we’ve been blaming each other – or something – ever since.
Here’s the thing: while it may seem to be in our best interest to blame someone else for our mistakes, the truth is that we are only hurting ourselves. If we never admit that we are wrong, how can we ever learn to be right? We can deny our failures and continue in our self-defeating behaviors, or we can acknowledge our misdeeds, change, and become better human beings. We know which way God prefers!