Forbidden Fruit

We’re all familiar with the story of Adam, Chava (Eve) and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden). By choosing to eat the fruit GD forbade them to eat, it is said that Adam and Chava chose knowledge of evil over innocence and a life of pure delight.

After one bite, they were instantaneously flooded with the awareness of evil. Their haste and hubris dishonored GD and sent their systems into shock.

In mainstream religion we are taught that Adam and Chava committed a sin of great consequence by eating the one fruit in the garden that GD forbade them to eat.

When we dive into Midrash however, the Jewish Sages explain that eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge was NOT the real transgression — eating the fruit before it was a holy time to do so was the real sin Adam and Chava committed.

The Jewish Sages said if they had just waited three more hours, they could have made the Kiddush (blessing) over the fruit on Shabbat (the Sabbath) and elevated the “forbidden” into the realm of the sacred.

This Midrash provides abundant food (pun intended) for thought. What other ingredients inherent in Shabbat would have made it a holy time to eat the fruit?

1) Self-control and mindfulness, versus impulsiveness and instant gratification.

2) Hakarat hatov (gratitude) in the form of blessing the food we consume, instead of gulping it down without a second thought. Gratitude is a game-changer.

Adam and Chava ate the fruit with an attitude of arrogance, greed and entitlement.

They wanted to possess the wisdom of GD, without the humility and reverence needed to integrate it. Judaism teaches it can be disastrous to dive into higher levels of spiritual knowledge without being grounded, centered and humble enough to handle it.

Four Sages entered Paradise — ben Azai, ben Zoma, Elisha ben Abuyah (Acher) and Akiva ben Yosef. Ben Azai glimpsed and died. Ben Zoma glimpsed and went mad. Acher cut down all the plants. Only Rabbi Akiva entered and came out in peace.

Talmud B. Hag 14 b

Sometimes a person’s goals and desire for holiness are beyond his capabilities. Therefore, he must control himself. He must limit his yearnings and fulfill – simply – whatever service to God he is capable of in that moment. Then he must pray to be led on the proper path for his level by serving God with joy and simplicity.”

Rebbe Nachman, Likutei Halachot, Bet Knesset 5:24

With a bit of humbleness, they could have blessed and eaten the fruit embraced by the Divine Presence that is believed to be with us on Shabbat.

Shabbat is a sacred time. The blessings said over the food and fruit of the vine are Divinely motivated acts of gratitude, reverence and mindfulness. Adam and Chava were motivated by egotism. The Jewish mystics said we gain an extra soul (neshama yetera) on Shabbat, enabling us to absorb the Divine light and profusion of holiness. The qualities of Shabbat would have made all difference. Even GD was restored on Shabbat.

34 thoughts on “Forbidden Fruit

  1. Reading this was good.
    You’ve explained it really well. As I read the beginning I had all the thoughts of what I’d say. And then you wrote them!!!! The world is definitely one in which when you’re ready for it, you’ll be able to handle it. I love how in this post your views align so perfectly with mine. Just nice. Not sure the right word, but it feels good…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shaina

    Resting on Shabbat is sometimes the only way to prolong my health. I work so hard during the week I need a break and Shabbat gives me permission to take a break. Many people have worked themselves to death.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      Same with me. I really need the downtime on Shabbat to just rest and recuperate from the stresses of life. Thank you for reading and commenting! I’ll answer your other comment tomorrow — I’m about to shut down all electronics and call it night.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Phil Sutherland

    The ages when people grow in maturity and have the wisdom to comprehend the lessons learned and advanced teachings is something that I have personally observed and the consequences of delving into those realms too soon can be devastating. I have seen Rabbis, Preachers, and those in various elevated positions that have fallen hard because they put themselves into areas where they were not mature enough to handle. That happens not only in the area of learning, but, in many of life’s choices. I see many young people who are very immature and put into positions where they do not have the wisdom to handle it and are overwhelmed with temptation. Just look at prominent Hollywood types, music industry, business, etc. and we can see all kinds of errors in judgement and problems galore. I think that there is a very sound basis for how fast we are able to comprehend what we are learning and the fact that the ability does not happen overnight, but, through gradual maturity. People now seem to want to do things too fast, and are not ready to handle it yet. That seems to occur in all sector of life and we are wise to heed the advice about what to pursue and when it is prudent to do so.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      Too many people are in positions of power and status that they can’t handle — the worst part is, it often hurts other people. The Mukubalim (Kabbalists) were really big on understanding maturity levels in relation to learning and other life tasks. Thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts! Do you have a topic you’d like me to write about?

      Liked by 3 people

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      That’s great. I have an affinity for Nachman. I have another teaching of his that I love, that I will probably use for my next post. Thanks for being here.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have to admit I am a little confused by the first seven paragraphs, you seemed to say that it is okay to commit an evil act on Shabbat. Particularly, the seventh paragraph “If they had waited, they could have made the Kiddush (blessing) over the fruit on Shabbat and elevated the “forbidden” to the realm of the sacred.” If GD said the fruit is forbidden, is there a time when it is not forbidden. Surely it must be forbidden for all ages and considered as a commandment by GD. Perhaps this is just my binary thinking. I understand and completely agree with the rest of your post on maturity and the right time. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Thought-provoking post as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      Eating the fruit wasn’t an evil act, it was simply forbidden, in that GD said “don’t eat from it.” GD did not say it was off-limits for all time. Consuming it wasn’t evil, rather it would impart the knowledge of evil that would turn their lives upside down without the appropriate qualities needed to integrate the knowledge and ease the transition.

      GD said Adam and Eve would “die” from eating the fruit, which means life as they knew it would cease, once they became aware that evil exists.

      The Jewish Sages had an important messages to impart with this form of exegesis. On one side we have a message about instant gratification, greed, thoughtlessness and arrogance. On the flip side we have gratitude, mindfulness, the power of blessings and the sacredness of Shabbat — which embodies them all.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. The Wild Pomegranate

      There are different ways of interpreting Hebrew scripture in Judaism, using a system called PaRDeS. https://thewildpomegranate.net/what-is-pardes/

      Every Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent, which can alter the meaning of a scriptural word, sentence, chapter or verse. Hebrew words also have layers of meaning and root words that reveal or impart deeper meanings beyond the simplicity of the literal text.

      Rabbinical exegesis is chock-full of morals to the story and life lessons.

      Hope this helps!! Thank you for reading, commenting and being here!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I get it now. Thank you for enlightening me. A bottle of whiskey is not evil, but if I become an alcoholic as a result of my addiction to it than that becomes an evil act in the self-harm and loss of control I exercise.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. So the fruit may have been forbidden to be eaten at the wrong time. But the right time was coming. There is also the issue, raised here, that the fruit was eaten without blessing, not to mention without gratitude. And then there was the stratagem of the serpent. They could have eaten precipitously because of the temptation-threat offered by the serpent. Nothing like goading ego.

    Spiritual maturity. I think it is arranged fully in Jewish faith development. I grew up Protestant, which mirrors some of the stages and requirements. I’m sure the Jewish system has its flaws, and I appreciate your broadening spiritual understanding by reaching out and appreciating connections and growth from other ways.

    My thanks here to the Midrash and the rabbis and to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      Great analysis! I like that you brought the stratagem of the serpent in. It’s right on! In Kabbalah the serpent represents Ego, which obstructs our access to Ohr HaKodesh (the Divine Light). The serpent (Ego) can goad us towards self-sabotage or self-correction, depending on our receptivity to the lesson. It’s like the old Buddhist adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive.” Sometimes the teacher is the serpent.

      There’s a Midrash that says the serpent is Lilith, Adam’s first wife, reincarnated. (Don’t know if you read my Lilith post). That makes for some very interesting (and humorous) food for thought. Lots of Christians are interested in learning Midrash and the way Judaism interprets Scripture. Midrash is my fav. It adds so many dimensions of awareness to scripture. Thanks so much for accompanying me on this journey and bringing your voice to the table. 🌷

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  6. Pingback: Trying Not to Wallow – Vision of the Night

  7. Excellent post. Figures you’d post one of your best ones while I was taking a short break. 😀

    A perfect illustration of why wisdom must grow alongside knowledge though. Half the reason society is a train wreck is we have one without the other. College students who think they know it all with no life experience or critical thinking skills, political pundits and office holders with no understanding of history, etc… Yes, I’ve even seen some people twisted by delving into the “things man wasn’t meant to know” end of spiritual studies as well. I won’t weird out your audience though, LOL.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      Welcome back! You summed it up perfectly!! Great examples. 😅on the last part. As Dirty Harry said, “A man must know his limitations.” LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Phil Sutherland

    This whole idea of consumption timing, etc. is very intriguing. My take on the whole thing is that they went outside the guidance of G-d when they ate of the fruit. G-d was aware of what point they were in their development, and when the timing would be good. I am not sure that I agree with the concept that they ate it at the wrong time of day. I believe that if that were the case, G-d would simply have admonished them about eating it at the correct time of day. Rather, I believe that G-d intended them to be fully taken care of in the garden, and living the life that He planned for them, free from struggles. He was guiding them all along in everything and instructing them and providing everything for them. I am not sure if he ever wanted them to go to the next stage of knowing the difference between good and evil. They did not need that knowledge in the garden. Unfortunately, the Serpent knew that they did not have such awareness and presented temptation to them. We all struggle with things in our lives that are not healthy or good choices. The Torah is full of wisdom guiding us in our paths and instructing what we should or should not allow. I believe a great deal of our struggles, is that we are like kids in a candy shop and have trouble resisting temptation, and just have to try it out. The main reason that I believe that was not so much an issue of timing, but rather, G-d wanting them to enjoy the peace of life in the garden and continue on in innocence is His strong warning against this knowledge, knowing that from then on, they would struggle with life’s dilemmas. Some have suggested that G-d knew very well that they would succumb to this temptation because of His Omniscience and that this was the next planned phase of their development as humans. However, He did create them as beings with free will and I am not sure that He planned this, but, was hoping that they chose another path. Difficult questions! Too bad He did not tell them that if they chose that path, they would be forever banned from the Garden and have to struggle to survive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      The whole story is weird isn’t it? Why would GD test them by giving them a tree they weren’t supposed to eat from? Seems like a cruel thing for the GDParent to do to the innocent beings “He” created. Why was evil even a thing? It didn’t need to be. Being omniscient, as you said, GD had to know they would succumb to curiosity and temptation.

      Midrash says they were supposed to wait until Shabbat to sanctify it. But what would have happened if they chose not to eat from it at all? Would they have been evicted from Paradise for messing up in some other way? Messing up seemed inevitable, like they were set up by GD and doomed to fail.

      I think GD over-reacted (understatement) by evicted them from Eden and adding all that toiling, pain, sickness, suffering and death on top of it, that would forever inflict all of humankind. So the kinder (Yiddish for kids) mess up and you punish the grandchildren, great-children, great-great children ad infinitum? Oy Gevalt!! 😱 Biblical GD is so bizarre to me.

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  9. Reppy ❤️

    This is one of the best Midrash’s you have ever done. I feel like I’m “out of sync” with the timing of the universe — “the right time.” Seems like everything I do or don’t do ends with disaster. I am missing phone calls, not landing jobs, miscommunicating (or not communicating at all) etc. I feel like my timing is off on everything. What do I need to do to get back in the “good graces” of GD’s timing? I don’t know, but I feel very out of connection with something profound and it is negatively affecting everything in my life. Maybe I need to wait like Chava and Adam needed to wait. Maybe I’m trying to rush the process…but we can’t rush out becoming, as nature is always telling us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      Thank you for the comment and compliment!

      I can relate! I’ve had the experience during different life phases when my timing was off. Other times it was on, but something prevented me from actualizing. I often wonder how we can “fix” it when that happens and create a paradigm shift. I’m praying for you and sending mazeldik (auspicious) vibes your way! I will let you know if an awareness comes to me about your situation. (((Hugs)))

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  10. One of the most interesting, ironically instructive things I have read along these lines is C.S. Lewis’ sci-fi fantasy “Perelandra”. In it, he envisions a human being traveling to a planet with a “new” Eden and “new Eve”, and his theological reasoned underpinnings underneath his creative fiction is very similar to yours here. Loved your ideas here — how we make true myths (also something Lewis and we believe) make sense for our current existence on this planet with each other. Bravo you! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      Never read Perlelandra, only read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Many thanks for being here and commenting! I’m glad to know you enjoyed the read. Nice to see you again. 😊

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  11. Phil Sutherland

    I have come to the conclusion from my own experiences and readings that G-d seems to be very present at times and to withdraw himself at others in our growth path. This seems to occur when G-d has brought us through some particular area of our life and he wants us to move into the next. I am not sure that I totally understand this concept, but, have seen it repeatedly in my own. He is still there, but, wants us to go through the valley and trust in Him. He does want us to grow and mature and sometimes that means facing hardships, not just easy times. At other times, it simply is His way of saying “No”. He does not want us going in a particular direction, but, for some reason, we either are stubborn and push on anyway, or we don’t see the obstacle or person in our path, such as the story of Balaam and the donkey in the book of Bamidbar (Numbers). The donkey could clearly see the Angel of G-d, but, Balaam could not and kept whipping the donkey to go forward. Sometimes our vision is clouded and we only see what we want to see, even stubbornly going around obstacles placed in our path. So, either a learning time, or a redirection, either way, I believe that G-d is with us, despite the feeling that we are alone. You can read in Psalms the many times that David had such experiences pleading with G-d to make Himself known. But, you can also see great growth from these experiences although going through them is not pleasant at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      I love Balaam’s donkey! I wrote about his donkey the in “Spirit Animals in Judaism” post. Too many people only see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. David struggled quite a bit. Thanks for being here! When we are all here together, doing this spiritual work together, we are no longer alone. 🌷

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  12. It is truly amazing what we can see when it is ‘time’. Our journey precedes it so that our wisdom is ready to understand. I suppose its like letting the local mechanic take the space shuttle for a ride, the outcome could be a bit messy. Mind you, the experience would still be of great stead 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      😄 Great to see you here! Woot! It’s like the Zen Buddhist saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive.” Did I put that in my post? I don’t remember. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your understanding of that moment in the garden ‘felt’ more natural. The explanations from those times tend to explain them in what they feel is ‘Godly’ terms but miss the point that we are human and need to hear human. They then, due to the culture of those times, reinforced everything with fear instead of love. It is amazing what one word can do to an explanation, ask a politician 🤣

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