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Okay, so let's sort of compare these two and see what we find. So in English; And the L-rd G-d commanded the man saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat - or translated into modern English, of every tree of the garden you can surely eat. The reason why the thou mayest freely eat, where that's coming from, in Hebrew it's just a repetition of the Hebrew verb, it's Ochol Tochel, which literally means eat, you shall eat. They're translating it here - again, not exactly literally but giving the sense of it - that you may freely eat from any tree of the garden. U'm'eitz hada'at tov v'ra'ah lo tochal mimenu - but the from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it; Ki bayom achalcha mimenu mot tomut - because on the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Okay so that is G-d's original command not to eat of the fruit.
How does this over here differ when the woman says to the serpent; Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat but the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden G-d says you shall not eat of it and you shall not touch of it lest you die, in case you die. So if you think about it, it seems to me that there's four or five, maybe six, really significant differences between these two and I wonder if your list - how your list compares to mine.
Okay so here is how I, for one, see the discrepancies. Discrepancy number 1; how many trees are you allowed to eat from in the original command? Mikol eitz hagan ochol tochel - of every tree of the garden you can eat. So every or all trees are permitted. Then over here when Eve talks to the serpent about it; Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, well what happened to the every - of every fruit of the tree? That has gone. So what's interesting about that is that even though the meaning of these two is probably the same, you can infer from context that's what she's saying, we can eat from all the trees of the garden, but she doesn't say it, this word gets left out, it's really a matter of emphasis that's different. So one emphasized point that's different is how many trees can you eat from? In G-d's view, every tree of the garden you can eat from.
Plus, how emphatic is G-d about you being able to eat from those trees? Well in the original command; Mikol eitz hagan ochol tochel - now it's translated here as thou mayest freely eat, I'm not crazy about that translation, and not just because it's so archaic sounding, but because in Hebrew as you can see over here you see how closely these words are aligned with each other. It's just the same word twice. Mikol eitz hagan ochol tochel - really means from all the trees of the garden you can eat, yes eat. It's really very emphatic, it's almost like this exclamation mark over here. From every tree of the garden you can eat, yes eat! The way Eve is talking about it to the serpent; Of the fruits of the garden we can eat. It's like, yeah, we can probably eat. It's almost like, you can imagine you're stifling a yawn, yes, I suppose we could eat, there's no exclamation mark. Missing exclamation mark over here. Again, a matter of emphasis.
Going on to the next difference. U'm'eitz hada'at tov v'ra'ah lo tochal mimenu - the tree that's forbidden is a tree that G-d names. It's the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That name is left out over here in the discussion between Eve and the serpent. Um'pri ha'eitz asher betoch hagan - instead of a name we actually get the location of the tree, the tree is in the center of the garden, that's the tree that we can't eat from.
Next distinction, what is that you can't eat? G-d talks about the tree being off limits. Eve doesn't talk about the tree, she talks about the fruit of the tree being off limits. The fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden. That word fruit doesn't appear over here.
Moving on, you have the consequences from eating from the tree, what are the consequences? So according to G-d in the original command, first of all there are immediate consequences, on the day that you eat from it you will surely die. Now as we talked about before, it doesn't mean they're going to die immediately because they in fact don't die on that day, but as Nachmanides says it means they become mortal. They'll immediately become mortal. Well, in Eve's view, nothing about the day. You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch of it, lest you die - because you might die. Not only is not immediate, it's just sort of eventual - eventually maybe you'll die.
There's also the maybe over here. We might die if we eat from it, whereas that's not the way G-d said it. Mot Tomut - again there's that word again, same word emphasized twice, if you eat from the tree you'll die, yes die! Very, very certain and immediate consequences.
So Eve and G-d have radically different perspectives on this situation. You can sort of graph the differences - the difference in perspective in terms of what is permitted, what is restricted and what happens if you fail. If you look at it from G-d's perspective, what's permitted is a tremendous amount, all the trees of the garden are permitted and I really want you to eat from all those trees. Eat, yes eat! And it's all great. What's restricted? Not that much. You know there's one little tree that's restricted and it's the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What happens if you fail? What are the consequences? The consequences are very great, they're immediate and they are very, very great. There's death and - on the day that you eat from it you'll become mortal. Well that's G-d's perspective, I'm going to call that the objective perspective. That's the way it is from the Divine point of view.
But as Eve sees it, what is permitted? Not so much. What's permitted is oh you know a little bit is permitted, we can eat from some trees, that's true. Does G-d want us to eat from those trees? I kind of guess so. What is restricted? Oh we can't even touch anything - can't touch any trees and it's the fruit and you can't even have the fruit - you can't even touch the fruit, it's like so ridiculous, it's almost like - you can imagine there's this cookie jar and you can't even touch the cookie jar. I mean, if I could at least touch the cookie jar. So that which is restricted looms large, that which is permitted, eh, big deal. What happens if you fail? Well the consequence is maybe you'll die. Maybe you'll die.
So you see there's this inverse relationship here between G-d's perspective on the one hand and Eve's perspective on the other. I think what you have here is a kind of roadmap for the mind games of desire. As you're reaching for the tree desire starts to sort of twist your perspective and you don't see it in the objective way anymore. What's permitted gets minimized; eh, I guess I can eat from some trees. What's restricted that's the focus; wow there's this tree that's in the middle of the garden that I can't eat from and I can't even touch it and it's so delicious, there's the fruit.
Interestingly if you go back to the actual creation of the trees, to the verses that talk about G-d creating the trees, you actually hear a different story. Out of the ground G-d made grow every tree that's pleasant to the sight; V'eitz hachaim betoch hagan - and He created the tree of life in the middle of the garden. Strange it's Eve misidentifies the tree. According to the way it actually is, it's the tree of life that's in the middle of the garden and the tree of knowledge seems to be somewhere else. The tree of knowledge is created after that. But what does it say that from G-d's perspective the tree of life is in the middle of the garden and from Eve's perspective the tree of knowledge is in the middle of the garden?
I don't think the answer is that Eve didn't know what tree they were talking about, she misidentified the tree. She got the tree right but I think if you ask that question which tree is in the middle of the garden, it's really a matter of perspective. If you take a look at any huge garden, which tree is in the middle has a lot to do with what tree it is you're looking at. If you're looking at this tree, that tree is in the middle. For G-d the tree that's in the middle of the garden, the thing that everything is the center around is the tree of life. For Eve the tree that's in the middle of the garden, the one that everyone is centered around, is the tree of knowledge, and that difference in emphasis, I think, really explains almost all the differences between what G-d is talking about, what Eve is talking about. It's really a matter of what tree you're focusing on.
Okay so let's get back to our little chart. We saw before that Eve plays down that which is permitted, no big deal, plays up the restriction of how can I possibly abide by that? Let's talk about what happens if you fail? How does she treat the consequences of failure in all this? What happens if you fail? What happens if you fail gets minimized, the consequences, it's like, oh well I guess maybe there might be some consequences. These are the mind games of desire, and I think - and nothing has changed in the last 3,000 years, this is the way that desire plays with our mind. I guess we always have to ask ourselves when we're confronting any situation is, can we catch ourselves doing these things? Do we find ourselves looking at a situation all of a sudden, not really coming to grips with the reality of what we're allowed to do? We're just sort of minimizing it and we tend to really hype up the restriction and focus sort of obsessively upon that, and, minimize the consequences of failure. When we do these kinds of things we can sort of catch ourselves in our tracks and identify them and say, one second, that's desire talking, that's looking at things subjectively, I'm not seeing things as they truly are.
I think this is a very sort of concrete example of the mind games of desire at play. Even as mankind is reaching from the tree, desire is beginning to work its magic in distorting our view of reality and becoming a lens that colors our perspective of what it is we can do, what it is we can't do, and what the consequences of failing are.
1. The Lullaby Effect
2. Kinds of Questions
3. The Mystery of the Pre-Tree World
4. The Tale of Two Trees
5. Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle
6. The Primal Serpent
7. A Perplexing Temptation
8. A Naked Paradox
9. A Snake in the Garden
10. Beasts of the Field
11. Beauty and the Beast
12. What Does It Mean to Know?
13. A World of Broccoli and Pizza
14. Are All Dilemmas Created Equal?
15. The Phantom Boxer
16. The I of the Beholder
17. The Filter of Desire
18. Friedrich Nietzsche and the Disc Jockey
19. Epilogue: God as Knower of Good and Evil (Premium)
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