Orthodox Judaism/Adam & Eve

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Question
Hi,
Hope you're well.

I've been trying to figure out if G-d forgave them, and so
far I'm pretty much nowhere.

Any thoughts, or can you point me in some research
direction?

Many thanks.

Answer
Jennifer,
Nice to hear from you again and thanks for the kind and interesting question. Forgiveness, in Judaism, requires repentance (sorrow, supplication, restitution where possible and good deeds where not and a commitment to change the behavior). I don't think we see any of these aspects in the narrative. However, when Adam and Eve disobeyed G-d recall that they did not know good from evil, right from wrong. It is interesting that the word 'sin' is not used anywhere in the narrative yet it is used shortly thereafter in the Cain and Abel story. This, to me, indicates that they did not sin, in that they were not of the mental and spiritual age to know what they were doing. So, in my humble opinion, they could not sin before they knew right from wrong, much like your 4 year old cannot sin (they can do wrong but they are not held responsible (certainly not responsible forever and their "stealing" a cookie passed down throughout all their generations for all their offspring to suffer the consequences). At the end of the story, G-d clothes and provides for them (ennobling them with work and future offspring). So yes, as a parent forgives a child, G-d forgave Adam and Eve and sent them on their journey of being human and mortal. Had they committed the same 'sin' but after they knew what they were doing was wrong then they would have to seek atonement. I don't see the story as a lesson on sin but rather G-d giving them the choice of remaining quasi-angelic and serving G-d by rote and instinct or serving Him as mortals with all the pleasures and pain that come with humanhood. Read Rabbi Harold Kusner's landmark book on forgiveness, "When bad things happen to good people". Did they make a completely informed decision? That's debatable for the reason I mentioned above. However I think they made the right decision. Hope that helps, shalom!

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