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Why is truth is so elusive? Blame Adam and Eve.

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By eating from the Tree of Knowledge, we lost the ultimate knowledge of truth

What exactly happened to Adam and Chava after eating from the Tree of Knowledge? How were they different than before? Was it a change in their knowledge, their outlook, did human nature change? And most importantly, how does this relate to our lives? The attempt at answering these fundamental questions starts with Midrash Rabbah (15:7). However, some of the opinions in the Midrash seem to beg for a deeper understanding. For that we turn to the great 16th century commentator to Midrash Rabbah (Shmuel ben Yitschak Ashkenazi of Constantinople) the Yiffei Toar.

A brief overview of the 5 opinions in the Midrash

The opinion of Rabbi Meir in the Midrash is that the Tree of Knowledge was wheat. The reason is that wheat is associated with knowledge:

כַּד לָא הֲוָה בַּר נָשׁ דֵּעָה אִינּוּן אָמְרִין לָא אֲכַל הַהוּא אִינְשָׁא פִּתָּא דְּחִטֵּי מִן יוֹמוֹי

When a man lacks knowledge people say ‘he never ate a piece of wheat bread in his life.” (Midrash Rabbah 15:7)

Eating bread made of wheat therefore signifies reaching a certain state of intellectual development. This, of course, begs the question, did Mankind achieve a higher intellect by eating from the forbidden fruit? Was God trying to keep us in the dark? As we will see, this question is discussed at length by the Rambam in the Guide to the Perplexed. Not to mention the fact that the Yifei Toar will further explain the meaning of eating wheat.

The second opinion is that of Rabbi Yehuda bar Iyloy רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בַּר אִלְעָאי who said that Adam and Chava ate grapes. Grapes is associated with the drunkenness and specifically to the immorality of Sedom:

עֲנָבֵמוֹ עִנְבֵי רוֹשׁ אַשְׁכְּלֹת מְרֹרֹת לָמוֹ, “The grapes for them are poison, A bitter growth their clusters.” (Devorim 32;33). Advertisement

The fact that Adam and Chava were exposed to certain desires is a traditional way of understanding this episode, although the Yiffei Toar will take exception to this interpretation.

Rabbi Abba of Akko said it was an Etrog tree. This is based on Chava’s reaction to the tree:

וַתֵּ֣רֶא הָֽאִשָּׁ֡ה כִּ֣י טוֹב֩ הָעֵ֨ץ לְמַאֲכָ֜ל וְכִ֧י תַֽאֲוָה־ה֣וּא לָעֵינַ֗יִם וְנֶחְמָ֤ד הָעֵץ֙ לְהַשְׂכִּ֔יל,

When the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a source of wisdom..” (Bereishis 3:6) Advertisement

Why does this indicate an Etrog tree? Because Chava was........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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