Saturday, 4 January 2014

Good and Bad? Whats that?

In Parshat Bereshit appears the first sin of man and wife. Adam and Eve eat from the fruit of the tree and are suddenly imbued with the knowledge of Good and Bad. If supernatural trees are common place in your daily life, let me explain everyone's question.
If a tree is knowledgeable, and is alive like all vegetation, does that make it fleishig? Just kidding, that's not what actually 'bothers Rashi'. Though, Rashi stays mysteriously silent about the topic.
The real question is, what does the 'knowledge of good and bad' actually entail? Is it a kosher restaurant guide? A list of acceptable/unacceptable things to do on a first date? What?! It gets confusing sometimes!
Sorry to all of you in the shidduchim scene, that's, unfortunately, not it. But, close enough. The Ibn. Ezra says, "That it's fruit produced sexual desire, and this is why Adam and Eve covered their nakedness immediately after they ate from it." Talk about 'forbidden fruit' metaphors. Holy sexual tension batman. 
The Ramban, of course, disagrees with this approach. Because God- Forbid we agree with our fellow, learned Jews and not put down their Torah insights. He points out that the serpent had mentioned that the fruit would make them more like Hashem. There you have it folks, lust and power, women are just marvelous. 
Ramban explains this by saying that he thinks before they ate the fruity deliciousness, they were, "Faithful workers, whose work was faithful, and they do not deviate from their tasks." This kind of makes them sound like a less mischievous version of minions from Despicable Me.
No one agrees with him though, so that's okay. Don't worry little Ibn. Ezra, big bad Ramban can't hurt you anymore. 
The Rambam actually, somewhat, minutely, kind of, sort of, if you try really hard, validates the Ibn. Ezra's claim. He compares the before and after in Gan Eden to weight watchers. There's just less and less. Oh sure, there was more knowledge, but just So much confusion. I mean, how many points is that?
Before the fruit, that would have, by the way, been NO points, man and woman were given an 'overflow of intellect,' allowing them to distinguish between truth and falsehood. So how was it the snake tricked Eve? She was given all the information and was still tricked by a smart talker. 
That sounds like every teenage mother I know.
Anyway, Rambam continues on to say that only after the sin did man develop a taste for good and evil. Or, fine and evil, as he puts it. 
He does not mean in the moral sense. And no that is not one of the five senses. Instead what is sweet and good to the physical senses, yes, those five senses, he considers good, even though the Sforno says, it's actually harmful. See kids, listen to your mother.
Or at least learn from your Aunt Myrtle. The fruit cake might smell good, but once you get inside you realize its all gone to purgatory.
As Onkelos translates, it was a tree "of knowledge of good and bad" not a "tree of knowledge."
Rav Hirsch ends this Torah battle and wipes the floor with these guys. He says that the previous interpretation is simply not right. Oh snap! "Freedom of choice distinguishes man as man... Had man been unaware of the concept of good and evil, God could not have assigned him a prohibition; and once man violated the prohibition, God could not have held him responsible and punished him."
If you stick a cookie in front of a baby, or most seminary girls for that matter, and sternly say, "Don't touch," they're going to ignore your existence. They do not actually know it's bad, all they know is they heard some noises out of your mouth. Either way, it's time to wax that lip.
Rav Hirsch says. "Through this tree, knowledge of good and evil will be acted upon and decided, and man will choose what is good or bad in his sight."
But who cares about what some men think! God is the ruler of the world, not us! Ah, see the infinite wisdom of Rav Hirsch. Earth can return to the 'Gan Eden' state, but only if we base what's good or bad in what Hashem says is good or bad. 
"We need to go above our imagination, thoughts, and personal preference and instead, obey the revealed will of God. Only then," Rav Hirsch says, "will we fulfill our purpose on earth and be worthy of having the world shaped into a paradise for us."

No comments:

Post a Comment