For God knows that in the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:5 (my translation)
Knowing – Adam opened the door. That’s the way Paul puts it in his letter to the Roman congregation. “As by one man sin entered” uses a Greek verb that suggests opening a door. Adam let sin in. You might ask why Paul doesn’t say that Eve opened the door, but that question belongs to another day. Today we will look at what is implied in the serpent’s suggestion. How does eating this fruit make it possible to know good and evil? Once again, it’s all about a door.
“God knows,” says the serpent. “The problem in your life, woman, is that you don’t know in the same way God knows. Oh, you know what God says. I can see that. You can quote His words. But all you’re doing is mimicking Him. You don’t really know what it means to decide between good and evil. You’re a bit deficient in that area. But you could know if you just decide to take things into your own hands.”
The verse uses the Hebrew verb yada in both occurrences of “know.” Yada is a very big verb. Yada covers everything from knowing that 2+2=4 to knowing the intimacy of sexual relations. In this verse, the power of yada is revealed in its pictograph. Yod-Daleth-Ayin paints the picture “to make the door of experience.” In other words, yada is about making something happen. What will I make happen? I will make a way to open the door of experience for myself. I will walk my path through the door into the world where I have experiential knowledge, where I have participated in the matter at hand. Why is Havvah tempted to eat from the Tree? Because she believes that eating of the Tree will improve her ability to make decisions on her own. She won’t have to rely on the manual anymore. Now she will intuitively know what to do. She will have experience.
Isn’t this a common temptation among us today? Don’t we still desire to “just get a taste of it” so we can decide for ourselves rather than relying on the word of someone else? The appeal of the Tree is the suggestion that I can cut my own path. The promise of the Tree is that I will no longer be dependent on another. The sin of Adam and Havvah is idolatry. “Disguised polytheism is also the religion of him who combines with the worship of God the devotion to his own gain.”
“God, I worship You. I know You want me to be all that I can be. So, just help me be a little more prosperous, a little more independent, a little more self-reliant. Just make me more capable of taking care of myself. Just help me accomplish my goals in life. Then I’ll even worship You better.” Making our own way is eating from the Tree. But now you know better, don’t you?
Topical Index: know, yada, experience, Genesis 3:5
 Abraham Heschel, God In Search Of Man, p. 392