How Will Creation Reach its Goal?
Wait a minute:
This job is not optional, right? So why give man free choice?
Well, first, this ability to choose would have been somewhat limited if we were to remain in the Garden of Eden, a place blessed with clarity (symbolized by the Tree of Life), where good and evil are distinguishable to the bone. Doing the right thing in such a climate is not much of a choice. It’s a given.
Partaking from the Tree of Knowledge meant that knowing good and bad became an inseparable part of
Man: The bad impulse (הרע יצר/Yetzer Hara) settled in the heart of all humans. It persistently calls the person to do, say or think the wrong thing. Hence man got kicked out of the Garden, as impurity is intolerable there. (The Tree of Knowledge that resides in the Garden is only a potential to do something wrong)
The World: There is no good without evil and there is no evil without good.
How to Conquer Peacefully?
Eating from the Tree of Knowledge wasn't just a mistake on behalf of Adam, and what followed wasn't just a punishment from G-d:
To achieve the ultimate purpose of Creation, there’s a need to go down to the lowest levels.
If Good was to remain separate from Bad, transforming the Bad into Good could not have been carried out wholesomely, as how much change can be effected from outside?
To properly transform a province of an enemy, for example, it’s not enough to subdue it from outside. That may be a
necessary start if there is resistance (and there will surely be fierce resistance from the lower levels of the world — the impurities — because holiness completely undermines everything they stand for).
But particularly because the impure culture is so estranged to holiness that it’s a must to get in there, deal with the issues face on and cause a consenting change from within. This is also how it works in the corporate world, when one company takes over a competitor company.
That’s why good and evil were jumbled up. Despite having very undesirable consequences (death...), it was necessary for the holistic transformation of evil.
And this is so fundamental that it’s one of the 13 principles of Judaism: Reward and Punishment.
This principle can only apply when there’s access to both good and evil — free choice — for then a person can be judged and rewarded or punished for his choices.
Why is the Ability to Choose Absolute?
Just because we need to have a close-up encounter between the Good (G-dly) and the Evil, doesn't mean it has to be a close match.
There is more intrigue and entertainment when both sides are on equal footing, but we all know who is going to win eventually ... and obviously G-d Who created both sides does not really support Evil...
Yet we see that a single person is able to G-d forbid cause unfathomed damage (for example release an atomic bomb...). And conversely, one individual can bring even greater unfathomed salvation to the world (and beyond)...?
Absolute freedom of choice is something the soul has “inherited” from its origin (“for in the image of G-d He created man” — Genesis 9:6). G-d is unlimited and hence has the truest sense of freedom to choose anything.
And G-d treats people by reciprocation.
It’s when we make the right choices, for example to donate money which in turn is used for sustaining a good cause, that G-d reciprocates in the same manner, by —
Giving more life and sustenance to the donor (Proverbs 11:19)
and to the world generally: “The world is built on kindness” (Psalms 89:3) — People’s acts of kindness.
and even more generally, reaffirming G-d’s choice to create (and keep creating) the world — an act that stems out of His Will to bestow kindness: “The world is built on kindness” (Psalms 89:3) — G-d’s Kindness.
But then — Why are we being "Commanded"?
For holistic results -