Clarity of Choice

The Rambam, in his Guide to the Perplexed, cites the following question relating to the verse in Genesis that warns Man not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge lest he become like a god, able to differentiate between good and bad. This ability to know good from bad is what makes Man unique, raising him up above all other creations. Why then was it viewed as a punishment, given to Man only after he rebels against the command of God? It would seem then that Man benefited from sinning!

In his answer, the Rambam explains that prior to eating of the Tree of Knowledge, Man possessed the ability to differentiate between Emet-Truth and Sheker-Falsehood, which are objective categories. After the sin, this objective clarity was clouded by the subjective categories of Good and Bad. No longer would Man see the world, and himself, with absolute clarity and navigate between truth and falsehood with complete objectivity. This pre-sin state was represented in the Torah by Man’s nakedness, which was, after the sin, hidden by clothing. The clothing represents the doubt, insecurity, and confusion that prevent Man from seeing the objective Emet and Sheker.

Our job is to cut through the “cloudiness” and differentiate between Emet and Sheker.

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