Lessons From A Popular Myth
Among the better known events that took place on the first Rosh Hashana 5774 years ago is the single most momentous experience that changed the course of all of history – Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge and were banished from Paradise.
This episode reveals for us an astonishing and powerful lesson about the nature of good and evil, our choices and responsibility on Rosh Hashana, and how we can return to Paradise – something the human race has been seeking to do for millennia.
As its name attests, the Tree of Knowledge was a tree, but what kind of tree?
Popular myth has it that it was an apple tree. In truth, there are four other opinions about the type of tree it was – fig tree, etrog tree, grapevine, and a stalk of wheat.
What is most fascinating is that the nature of the tree – the apple myth vs. the four other opinions – reveals two radically different views of good and evil: the dualistic non-Jewish view and the unified Jewish view. Indeed, the four opinions demonstrate four unique takes on this issue!
Filled with humor and anecdotes, this sermon opens our eyes to the Torah’s profound and revolutionary insight concerning evil and transgression, and how we are meant to use this insight to grow as we embark on a new year.
As we celebrate the collective birthday of the human race and revisit and relive our original ancestors’ challenge not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, we derive many lessons in dealing with the Tree in all its modern-day manifestations. But beyond that we hear one resounding message: We do not live in a dualistic universe. Evil has no independent power. It is in our complete and utter control to overcome any adversary and negative force, within or without, and transform it into good.