Chava (Eve) was more than just the first woman. From a Kabbalistic standpoint, she is a supersoul from which all other feminine souls come from. We know very little about how life was for Chava and Adam after the fall since the Torah is very concise with its words, and even less on how it was before the fall.
We do know however from the Zohar, writings of the Arizal and other Kabbalists that, before their fall, there was no physicality, it was a world without pain and suffering.
But what can we learn from Chava in our daily lives?
Adam’s First and Second Union
The Zohar teaches us that Chava was actually Adam’s second wife. The first one was Lilith (not to be pronounced), who would become the queen of all demons. While this is not explicitly written in the Torah, there’s a hint to it when Hashem created Chava, and Adam referred to her as “Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh”. The first one (Lilith) was as hard as a bone, while the second one (Chava) was soft as flesh.
Indeed, we find in the Midrash and Zohar that the first one was fiery and full of judgments, and wanted to dominate Adam. They fought, and Adam pronounced a divine name to kill her. This was in a way the first test that Adam had failed, since Hashem had given him Lilith with the best of intentions. However, seeing that it would be terrible for Adam to be alone, Hashem created Eve afterward. But Lilith complained with the claim that she was not at fault, for women are here to help men achieve their mission (sometimes through some suffering) by purifying them and giving them boundaries.
There’s a famous parable of a man who once did a great favor to the king. The king handed him 4 sticks and told him to walk around the kingdom and place them. Whatever area he’d mark with these 4 sticks would be his. As the man put the first stick on the ground, he went off walking happily. However, every time he wanted to put the second stick down, he realized he could have a lot more land if he walked more. The result was that he never stopped walking and such is the life of a man without a woman, as the sages teach in the Talmud (Yevamot 62B) that A man who dwells with no wife, lives without joy, without blessing, and without goodness.
Hashem acquiesced to Lilith wishes and made her the queen of demons. In a way, Lilith is still continuing her mission but on a much broader scale, since she’s the one who tempts all men in their sleep. And being pure from nocturnal pollution is one of men’s main challenges as described by Rav Chaim Vital in Sha’arei Kedusha (Gates of Holiness).
Chava and all women’s spiritual path
From the fact that it was only Adam, and subsequently all men, commanded to marry, we see that women are born in a more complete spiritual state. The Zohar teaches us this fascinating lesson: the name Adam in Hebrew אדם has a numerical value (Gematria) of 45, and this includes the divine Tetragrammaton יהוה(26) and Chava חוה (19), and concludes that a man is not called a [proper] man until he’s found his mate (and unites with her).
Chava, on the other hand, is called by Adam the “Mother of all life”, alluding to her completeness and uniqueness in bringing forth life. Chava’s name denote life through the letter Chet ח but also point out to the union of Zeir Anpin and Nukva through the 2 letters וand ה.
However, as we are all old souls, women need to realize they also have an incredibly important mission to purify their spouses. We find in a few Kabbalistic writings that a woman receives a double reward from studying Torah: one for their own studies and another for what they make their husbands study. This obviously doesn’t give a woman carte blanche to make their husbands suffer, but places on us an incredible responsibility to build the next generation.
It’s noteworthy that the one blamed first for eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was Adam.But Eve also ate of it, and even before him! Not only that, but she was the one who convinced him to eat. The Ba’al HaTurim gives a very funny interpretation based on the wording of the text that she uprooted the whole tree and started beating him until he’d agree to eat. So why wasn’t she asked first why she had eaten and given to Adam?
The Zohar teaches us that had Adam waited until Shabbat, he’d have been given the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to eat (since it’s power of evil would’ve been nullified) together with the fruit of the Tree of Life. But it doesn’t mention Eve! It could be that Eve was able to somehow eat of the Tree and still not be cursed, or it could be she was trying to rectify it already and wanted to give it to Adam.
We may not know yet the answers to those questions, but undoubtedly, she had the best intentions in mind, as women were created with more Binah (Understanding) than men, as our sages teach in the Talmud (Niddah 45B)
Every woman is connected to her, and can learn from her self-sacrifice that there’s a special divine plan and mission for each woman. She’s buried in Me’arat HaMachpelah together with Adam and the 3 holy couples (Avraham and Sarah, Yitzhak and Rivka, and Yaakov and Leah).
May her memory be for a blessing!