We know from several midrashim (see first chapter of Midrash Tanchuma to Bereshit) that Torah had already existed before the world was created. It should have contained all the positive and negative commandments, and the latter assumes the knowledge of the evil.

Sifrei (p. 4 left column in this edition) mentions that Adam was to study and keep commandments, while Bereshit Rabbah (p. 130/178 in the translation) writes that he was to offer sacrifices. This means that he was obliged to study at least about certain positive commandments.

But what was the purpose of Hashem with Adam and Eve regarding Torah study of the negative commandments if they were not allowed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Besides the introduction of the evil inclination, Rashi also comments on 2:25 that before eating from the fruit they were simply unable to tell the good and the bad apart. However, Sanhedrin 56b and Bereshit Rabbah (p. 131/179) explicitly tell us that they were forbidden to do idolatry and blasphemy, curse judges, shed blood, do sexual immorality, steal and eat limbs of living animals (i.e. the Noachide laws). How did they know the meaning of these concepts? How could they know that these things were bad?

  • I don’t understand why fulfilling a mitzvah requires knowledge of good and bad. If G-d told you to do something, you do it. End of story. You can try to work out the reasons for it, but that’s more tangential - the commandment stands regardless of how you understand it.
    – DonielF
    Oct 22, 2017 at 16:27
  • @DonielF The story of Egel hazahav, Vayikra 24, the murder of Abel, Bamidbar 25 give us very important lessons why these commandments are important and what is the punishment for those, who violate these laws. Idolatrous practices are mentioned many times in the Torah and we have a whole tractate for that in the Talmud. But it's not enough that the first humans didn't know these, they didn't even have an idea of these concepts. How could they understand the gravity of them? Oct 24, 2017 at 14:07
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    G-d told you to do something. You do it. End of story.
    – DonielF
    Oct 24, 2017 at 14:26
  • Do you expect ready-made answers or open to free-mind suggestions?
    – Al Berko
    Mar 11, 2019 at 14:57
  • I think it is crucial to answer this question about "how-adam-got-his-intellect", judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/100459/… in order to understand what approach to Torah is possible with his worldview.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 11, 2019 at 15:00


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