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Implicitly, the tree was called "the tree of knowledge of good and bad", and we all know the "bad" part - they realized the wickedness of their nakedness.

My question is simple: what intellectual benefits or pieces of divine knowledge were revealed to the two to justify the "good" part?

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Maimonides opens his Guide to the Perplexed with this point, someone asking "so what, they weren't supposed to know good?" He explains that "good" and "bad" are on a relative scale; "2 + 2 = 5" isn't bad, it's false. Previously everything was true or false ... now everything could be rationalized or justified somewhere across a value system.

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  • Thank you, this sounds deep, but I can't see the difference. 1. Why 2+2=5 is not bad? So eating the fruit was false and then it became bad? 2. Can 2+2=5 be rationalized across a value system? Can my name? I don't understand your claim. – Al Berko Nov 3 '20 at 20:55
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It is not 'good' in the way you are understanding it, i.e. the positive benefit of partaking of the fruit. Prior to the sin, Adam acted purely in the right way and not driven by any ulterior motive. What was done was correct and proper. When they had children they came together, there was no innate desire. The act of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of 'good and bad' created a drive for pleasure and gratification that wasn't previously there.

The Ramban Bereishis 2:9 notes:

The fruit of this tree gives birth to the will and desire that those who eat it should choose a thing or its opposite, for the good or the bad. This is why it is called ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,’ because da’at in our language refers to will or intention, as the Sages said ‘we only taught this in a case when his intention is to return…if it is not his intention to clear it out…’ (Pesachim 6a). This is true in biblical Hebrew as well - “what is man that you should know him?,” (Psalms 144:3) meaning that you should care about or desire him, or “I have known him by name…” (Shemot 33:12) meaning that I chose him from all other people. So too the statement of Barzilai haGiladi ‘between good and evil,’ meaning that he had lost his power of discernment and could no longer desire something or be disgusted by it, eating without tasting and hearing without taking pleasure in son. Here in the garden there was no desire for sexual intimacy between the man and his wife, rather at the proper time they joined together and gave birth. Therefore their sexual organs were exposed just as their faces and hands and they were not ashamed of them. After they ate from the tree, the choice was in their hands and they had the will to do evil or go to themselves or others. This is a divine quality from one perspective, just as it was bad for humanity as they now had lust and desire. It is possible that the verse intended this when it said “…God made men straight, but they have engaged in too much reasoning.” (Kohelet 7:29) ‘Straight’ means that one should seize on a single straight path and ‘engaged in too much reasoning’ means that one seeks various acts among which they can choose. When G-d commanded the man not to eat from the tree he did not inform him of this quality of da’at which it imparted, rather G-d simply said ‘from the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden,’ meaning the known one in the middle – don’t eat from it. This is what the woman said to the snake, and only in a later verse does it mention the tree by name “but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it.” (Bereshit 2:17) (Sefaria Translation)

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  • Thank you. The problem with "stand-alone" commentaries that they make no sense in the bigger picture and they do not address all related phenomena. Later the snake promises them to level with Elohim in "knowing good and bad". How do you think "the desire" applies to Elohim? – Al Berko Nov 3 '20 at 18:13
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The Tree of Knowledge is to know the difference between good and bad. It's about knowing the difference between good and bad. Prior they only knew good.

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