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The Orchard and Hashem’s Plan.

R. Steve Bernstein

It is important to understand that Hashem has had a plan for all creation from the beginning. Because Hashem is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, his plan is, was, and shall be intact through all of the existence of time and space. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at the incident of Adam and Chava in the Orchard.

Hashem placed Adam and Chava in the orchard in order to work, that is, to tend the Orchard. In the midst of the Orchard Hashem placed two trees, the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Chava were instructed by Hashem not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Of course, at the time HaShem gave the instruction, Adam and Chava had not eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore they had no knowledge of good and evil. Let’s think for a minute about the ramifications of this. If one does not understand good and does not understand evil, how is one to choose between good and evil? It is as if, at this point, Adam and Chava are blank slates, easily influenceable in any direction. Hashem gives them the instruction not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil before they have any understanding of whether they should or should not obey.

Should Adam and Chava eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? How would they know that it was good to follow Hashem’s instruction? How would they know what good is? How would they know it would be bad to disregard Hashem’s instruction? How would they know what evil is? Since they had not yet eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they did not understand that following Hashem’s instruction was good, and disregarding Hashem’s instruction was bad. Adam and Chava had no tendencies in either direction.

Hashem put the serpent (Satan) into the Orchard. It is clear from the text that Satan’s purpose in the Orchard is to influence Adam and Chava into eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why did Hashem put Satan in the Orchard? The only explanation is that Satan being in the Orchard is part of Hashem’s plan.

This brings up an interesting concept. If Adam, that is to say mankind, were inherently evil, why would it be necessary for Hashem to put Satan in the Orchard. Wouldn’t it be man’s natural tendency to disobey Hashem? On the other hand, if it was man’s natural tendency to be good and not evil, would not Adam and Chava simply resist Satan’s temptation? So, it seems that Adam is neither inherently good, nor inherently evil. HaShem created Adam and Chava to be neutral, thus giving mankind’s free will full reign, for good or evil, over our lives.

And here we see the real reason for the entire incident to play out. It is apparent that Adam and Chava would not truly have free will, until they were capable of exercising and doing something that was against Hashem’s commandment. Having the potential for free will and having free will are separate things. Until Adam and Chava actually disobeyed Hashem, free will was only a potential and not a reality in time and space. Once Adam and Chava ate of the fruit, then free will had been actualized, and Hashem’s true purpose for creation had the possibility of coming to fruition. That purpose is that man, of his own free will, should choose to follow Hashem. It is this incident in the Orchard that gives mankind the ability to choose Hashem. Without this incident, the choice to follow Hashem would already be made for us and we would have no say in the matter. But, after the incident in the Orchard, we are indeed created in Hashem’s likeness and have the ability to choose or reject.

May we all choose to follow Hashem, now and forever more.

R. Steve Bernstein

Sat, September 19 2020 1 Tishrei 5781