The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is really a parable about why we make the wrong decisions.
One theory, proposed originally by Greek philosophy and then Christianity, is Original Sin. Humans are simply bad people more inclined to make the wrong choices in life rather than good ones. We are selfish and self-centered. Freud argued something like this too. We are born with libidos that demand instant gratification. A baby cries to get food and comfort. It is only when the ego is disciplined by the super ego, the demands of society and socialization, that we learn to control our actions. Sometimes we succeed. But, more often than not, a failure in our upbringing, too much or too little socialization, prevents us from imposing restraints and constraints. And so, we fail.
The traditional Jewish view is that Adam and Eve are given a choice. To obey or not to obey. If they obey they can life happily in the garden. If they disobey they will be driven out. Or to translate it into modern terminology. If they follow the rules that require them to limit their selfishness they can succeed in life. But if they give in to immediate gratification they will not. One path leads to “life.” This is just another way of saying that one lives a positive and meaningful life. Or to death. Another way of saying that we fail to fulfil our potential.
Eve is tempted by the outward beauty and aesthetic attraction of the fruit. She is influenced by the persuasive but destructive arguments of the serpent. And she clearly resents being told by God what not to do. The result is that she makes life much harder for herself and those around her. It is no more Eve’s fault than Adam’s. He too makes exactly the same mistakes.
It is not that we are essentially bad. The Torah says humans have a capacity for good as well as capacity for evil. A good inclination and a bad inclination. We must choose how to live. It is just that one path, even if seemingly difficult, in fact helps us cope with life much better than if we choose the easier, more self-indulgent path of least resistance.
The world we live in constantly tests us physically and spiritually. The challenge is to get the balance right and the Torah is a sort of self-help book that gives us different tools and ideas to help us deal with life and people.