Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart
Section 3, Chapter 16
Let’s return to the “scene of the crime” if you will, Adam’s situation in
the Garden of Eden, and expand upon the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and
Evil (which he and Eve ate from) and its opposite, the Tree of Life. They
were both quite literally physical trees as the Torah indicates, and Adam
and Eve actually ate some very real fruit that grew on the Tree of Knowledge.
But we’re also to understand that the sort of eating they did was of a more
ethereal kind than what we’re used to, and that the fruit was of a whole
other sort and far more sublime than any fruit we can imagine . Yet just
as common trees produce fruit that have properties that can benefit or harm
anyone who eats them, the “fruit” of these two trees had their own special
Anyone who’d eat from the Tree of Life would be granted instantaneous
insight into G-d’s being and ways in this world, he’d love and cling onto
Him, and he’d be repelled by physical pleasures, as Adam and Even would have
had they done that. They ate instead from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and
Evil, and thus came to love and cling onto physicality as a consequence
right there and then, and to prove to be mortal -- until they would undo all
that by repenting and being what they could have been from the first.
Ramchal’s point is that we also demean ourselves when we do wrong by
clinging onto the world rather than G-d. Nonetheless, we too can undo that
by making the right choices from the first, or by repenting and setting our
sights once again on G-d and His plans for us in this life after the fact.
But as we’d already pointed out, doing wrong not only belittles our
spiritual stature, it actually does us harm, as we’ll see .
 Their “eating” would be analogous to our “digesting” and “absorbing”
ideas and information (which would themselves be the sort of “fruit” they ate).
 See 3:13:1.
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason
Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various
locations on the Web.