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.