Why did Eve do it? Why does anyone mess up?

In truth, there is a certain nobleness to sin, something essential to our humanness that makes us more precious than the angels. As soon as any transactional relationship is set in place — as in, "You do this, I will do that. If you don't do this, then..." — our impulse is to break free. We are humans, there is a person inside, we want to relate as people. Not as what we do, but as who we are.

So it is with our spouse, with our children, with friends. We are always testing each other, testing to see just how deep this relationship extends. Testing to see: Are you interested in me as I know myself? Or are you interested in what you can get from me?

So, too, when it is a relationship with the Inner Mind of the Cosmos. We want to relate to Him from our inner being, from our humanness, not just from our behavior. Such was the test we put Him to when we built a golden calf. With that rebellion, we asked, "Even if we break these rules You gave, do You still love us then?"

Such was the test of Eve. With the story of Eve ends the story of G‑d's creation — His top-down management scheme — and begins the story of humanity. The story for which He created the universe to begin with. The story of real, live people who succeed and fail and pick themselves up and succeed again. And whose lives are valuable for that alone.

If so, if sin is so beautiful, perhaps we should continue to sin?

No, because in the sin and separation there is only darkness and ugliness. In sin itself there is no beauty, but only in its resolution.

This is the other aspect to the story of Eve: Eve's loss. Her plunge into a world of madness and distorted roles, into exile. In particular, the loss of female supremacy.

Initially, it was most natural for man to follow woman. Read the story: If Eve was convinced to eat of the Tree of Knowledge through dialogue with a talking snake, what convinced Adam? Quite simply, nothing at all. As he himself admitted, "The woman you put here with me gave it to me and I ate!" If Eve told him to do something, Adam understood he was bound to listen. After all, hadn't she been put here by G‑d as a "helpmate"? What else could that mean?

And so, writes Nachmanides, (the "Ramban," 1194-1270) the logical consequence: From now on, the roles would be reversed. Adam would dominate Eve. A curse, truly, for both of them — for how much of a helpmate can you be when you are dominated?

Until Sarah. Sarah was the first, the Zohar says, to begin to heal the catastrophe of Eve. And so, G‑d tells Abraham, "All that Sarah tells you, listen to her voice" (Genesis 21:12). And so it will be for all of us once the moshiach arrives: The feminine will once again dominate in the world, as it was in the garden before the fall.

This is what was missing in Eve's story: the resolution. In all the instances where her story reoccurs — with her firstborn son, Cain; with the making of the golden calf; with David and Bathsheba; with the destruction of the Temple — in all those sins and betrayals, the story continues and resolves. There is remorse, return and a deepening of the relationship. The contractual agreement is renewed — but now with a deeper foundation, an intimate one based on the inner person and an Inner G‑d.

But Eve's sin, the first separation from which all other fissures stem, remains unresolved. This is our job, to heal the chasm created by Eve, between body and spirit, woman and man, humankind and G‑d. And so to create that inner relationship with the Divine, that relationship which Eve was desperately seeking.