And God made every tree sprout out of the earth, and the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil… and ordered Adam, saying: “From every tree in the garden you will eat, but from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you will not eat, because the day you eat of the same you will die Would you give your children a table with delicacies and in the center the most tempting plate, and would you sprinkle it with poison and warn them: “Be careful with this plate! Although it looks very appetizing, it can kill them ”? Why did God, apparently so cruelly, set a death trap before Adam and Eve?
The key to unraveling this mystery is to consider what would have happened if Adam had eaten from the Tree of Life before eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The answer can be found in God’s reaction after Adam first ate from the Tree. of knowledge. The Torah tells us that God took Adam out of the garden to ensure that he would not eat from the Tree of Life and live forever. Even after eating from the Tree of Knowledge and turning mortal, the Tree of Life would have allowed him to live forever. Imagine how different the story would have been if Adam had eaten from the Tree of Knowledge first. He would have become eternal and immune to the danger of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God did not put a death trap in front of Adam, because he was going to be able to eat from the delicious Tree of Knowledge after eating from the Tree of Life. In fact, when God told him: “Of every tree in the garden you shall eat, ” he was commanding him to eat of all the trees, including the Tree of Life.
Adam’s mistake was the order in which he ate from these two trees. Wisdom vs. Experience What is the Torah teaching us? What does the Tree of Life represent and what does the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represent? And finally, what was the mistake Adam made that we need to watch out for in our own lives? The Tree of Life represents the Torah: “It is a Tree of Life for those who cling to it” (Mishlei 3:18). The Torah is the supreme source of wisdom; she teaches us to live a meaningful life in all its facets. It is the Divine plane of creation, from which existence flows. It is the source that defines ethics and morals; the instruction manual (Torat Chaim) regarding how we should use this world to understand its purpose, realize our potential, and forge a meaningful connection with our Creator.
What is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and why is it problematic? This tree represents the knowledge that is obtained from life experience. It is the desire to go out into the world and taste all its fruits, to use the process of trial and error to discover what is good, what is destructive and what is the right path in life. It is the emotion of traveling through the country without a map or destination, of being open to whatever is presented. BS”D But growing out of experience involves facing obstacles, falling, and hitting yourself along the way. Certainly mistakes will be made, sometimes serious, but eventually we hope to learn. That is the attitude of one who chooses to learn about life in the school of hard blows, rather than studying Torah first.
Experimenting without Torah is tempting, as is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but it ends up being a death trap. Diving blindly into the vast and alluring terrain of life inevitably leaves a path of destruction: broken hearts and homes, frustrated dreams, cynicism, confusion, and alienation. Potential baalei teshuvahs experience fiery conflict when faced with the decision to abandon what they are doing – be it traveling in Europe and the Middle East or enjoying university life – to go to study Torah in a yeshiva. In essence you are choosing between the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. The Torah teaches us a crucial lesson: Before we are tempted by the myriad of experiences, we must first study Torah, the manual of instructions for life, to understand the ethical principles that govern existence and the proper parameters for acting in this world. Once we are clear about these definitions and concepts, we can eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, because we will already know how to use the world as a vehicle to connect with Hashem and develop our potential. Live your life! Nobody expects us to live in a bubble.
But first we must acquire the necessary wisdom regarding how to live in order to avoid falls and not be destroyed in the process. For example, everyone wants to get married and no one plans to get divorced, but the reality is that more than 50% of marriages will end in divorce. Don’t improvise. Study the wisdom of the Torah on marriage first and then get married. Hashem wants us to make the most of life. To do so, you must know what you are alive for. Ask a student: Why are you studying in college? I have to get a degree. Why do you need a title? I have to earn money. Why do you need money? I have to buy food. Why do you need food? I have to eat. Why do you need to eat? I have to live. Why do you need to live? I have to go study at the university. You need to know the answer to the most important question in life: what do you live for? The answer is in the Torah. Eat from the Tree of Life first. Then apply what you learned and experience the incredible beauty and meaning that life has to offer. Rabbi Noah Weinberg.