I am back from a week-long cruise in the Caribbean, which was restful and allowed me to catch up on some reading.
So now, it’s back to work…
I know, I know…I am taking a risk that I might destroy the belief system founded on the idea of Original Sin by even suggesting that Eve did not really do anything wrong.
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But having just read (again, for the umpteenth time) the story of Eve and the serpent, I have to wonder if Eve really should have been held accountable.
Why would I think that? After all, she was told not to eat from that tree, right? That was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, right? That fruit would give her the same understanding that God has of good from evil, right?
And THAT is why I started to wonder: if the fruit of that tree gave her the knowledge of good and evil, then before she ate from the tree, she must not have known good from evil. So, that begs the question: how could she have been held accountable for doing wrong (i.e., evil) if she was incapable of knowing good from evil?
That’s when the judge said, “Hmmm…that is an interesting thought, Counselor; please, continue to make your case.”
In Judaism, we believe that children are born with the Yetzer Hara (evil intention), and it isn’t until they are (at least) 10 years old (some say 13) that they develop the Yetzer Tov, the Good Intention (Tanchume, Genesis 7).
In other words, when we are too young to know the difference between good and evil, which I believe I can make a reasonable argument is equatable with right and wrong or righteous and sinful, we really don’t know what is what, which is which, or who is who when it comes down to what to do, what to say, who to believe or what to obey.
The only thing we know is our innate desire to sin, the Yetzer Hara, and until we are able to understand the difference between right and wrong, is it really justice for us to be held accountable for our actions?
When you see toddlers, maybe 5 years old or less, playing with toys, when they all go for the same toy, whichever one has it first doesn’t want to relinquish control. Do we think that is an evil child and punish him or her? No, we explain they need to learn to share, and we do so because we understand they don’t know any better.
God clearly says in the Torah (you can find this in the first chapters of Leviticus) that even if someone sins unknowingly, that person is still guilty. Once they are made aware of the sin, they must then observe the sacrificial system requirements in order to be forgiven.
Now, if you ask me, I do not believe God is talking about young children here, but only those people who are old enough to know that what they did was wrong.
I feel the same way about Christian baptism: when the kid is only a month or so old, do you really believe that God will send an infant to suffer in Hell for all eternity if it dies without being baptized?
To me, during a Christian baptism, when the Godparent (by answering for the child) commits that child to a system of religious doctrine that has been created by men, not God, that is not helping the child in any way, whatsoever.
Jews don’t baptize their infants. We do have baptism (after all, where do you think John the Baptist got the idea?), which is called a T’villah. This is not the same as a Mikvah, which is a ritual cleansing; the T’villah is a physical representation of a spiritual change, such as was done when John baptized people, when Cornelius and his family were baptized by Kefa, and when the Ethiopian was baptized by Phillip.
And we do not do it with anyone not yet old enough to know what they are doing!
So, going back to Eve and that nasty so-and-so, the Serpent, if Eve really had no idea of the difference between what was right and wrong, and she ate because the serpent told her it was okay to do so, then should she really have been held accountable for that action?
Good point- God did tell them not to eat from that tree; no doubt about that! But- and, again I say, BUT- if Eve was incapable of knowing that she did something wrong, why should she be punished?
The same goes for Adam, when Eve told him to eat, also.
Before the lightning strikes me, I want to make it clear I am not saying God was wrong in doing what he did- heaven knows (actually, he does) I believe everything that God does, he does for the ultimate purpose of teaching us how to protect ourselves from ourselves.
For example, what happened to Job seems totally unfair and cruel, yet the lesson we all learn from it is valuable in that we better understand who God is, and that we cannot always understand why he allows things to happen. But, when we trust in him to see us through, we will come through it.
So, maybe, even though Eve didn’t understand right from wrong and maybe she really wasn’t responsible for disobeying God, the lesson we learn from this is that when God says to do, or not to do, something, he means it. Whether or not we understand God’s purpose, it is not important or even relevant- there is obey or reject; there is either gathering with or spreading; it comes down to is you, or isn’t you, my Baby?
If I may, I would like to share what I do on a daily basis, which I decided to do a long time ago.
Because God does hold those who know good from evil accountable for what we do and say, whether we mean to do wrong or not, every day I pray for forgiveness of any and all sins I have or may have committed against God.
As I have already mentioned, in the first chapters of Leviticus, God says absolutely that whether we know we did it or not, when we sin we are guilty. Period; end of line; close the door; das ist alles! That is why I ask for forgiveness all the time, whether I know I have done anything wrong, or not.
I recommend it for everyone.
So, nu? After all this discussion, what is the bottom line: did Eve (and Adam) really deserve to be punished or not?
Well, the serpent definitely deserved what he got, so we can close the book on that one.
As for Eve, maybe my original contention that not knowing good from evil is the same as not knowing right from wrong, is wrong? If so, then she defiintely did know what she was doing, and punishment was deserved.
If, on the other hand, I was right in thinking right from wrong and good from evil are the same thing, then maybe what God did, in a human view, wasn’t really fair or justified, but I will say this (and this statement can only be made by reason of my total and absolute faith in God):
Whether or not I understand why, and whether or not I agree or not whether something God does is justified, I believe that if God does it or allows it, then it must be for a good purpose.
Furthermore, I also believe that it is not wrong or sinful to question God (respectfully, of course) because God is big enough to be able to handle a few questions.
Of course, because he is God, he doesn’t have to answwer them if he doesn’t want to, but we can always ask.
Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subcribe to my website and YouTube channel, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (please read and agree to the rules.)
And while you are on the website, buy my books: if you like what you get here, you will like my books. Hey- they aren’t expensive.
One final thing- please do not ever hesitate to make comments: agree, disagree, drash it out with me…I can handle it.
That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!
PS: Please pray for the quick and complete recovery of my wife, who is suffering with sever pancreatitis. It hit her the day we came off our cruise, which was all last week, and she has been hospitalized and in pain for 4 days now.