The Apple of G-d’s Eye…writes Rabbi Laibl Wolf

February 25, 2015 by Rabbi Laibl Wolf
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Apples have gotten a bad rap. Fables abound with poison apples. Adam and Eve’s quick-fix Dr. Oz apple diet was all the rage in early creation time.

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

Hippomenes distracts Atalanta with three apples in Greek mythology. An ‘Adam’s apple’ is a somewhat less than an edifying aesthetic feature of the human body. And so on.

It may well be that the poor PR apples receive goes back to the ‘fordbidden fruit’ of the Bible. Except they got it wrong. It wasn’t an apple at all. In fact the authoritative weight of the Talmud identifies the fruit possibilities as wheat, grapes, fig, citron, nuts – but certainly not apple. (with apologies to all the great Renaissance artists!).

So why apple? Well, the Latin word mălum, meaning “evil,” was associated with mālum, another Latin word, borrowed from Greek, meaning “apple.” It’s all Greek to me, so why bother?

Let me share with you a deeper teaching. The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is also a spiritual metaphor for the human condition – our state of inner conflict. Animals don’t experience inner conflict. Morals, ethics, good and evil are not in their minds or lexicon. Animals only know strive to protect their turf. And should the intruder animal be somewhat larger and stronger than the return message will be “I was only keeping it warm for you – and now help yourself’ – a tactical withdrawal. Not humans. We have to consider the subtleties of ego, political nuance, complex military warfare, future scenarios, national resolve, economic considerations, etc etc.

Human beings possess consciousness, imagination and future plans. We are both selfish and selfless at the same time. We seek to satisfy our altruistic side as well as our egotistic neediness. We seek pleasure and avoid pain. We love others while exploiting them. In other words – we are conflicted.

Now what does this have to do with ‘apples’? Allow me to explain. Eating is a very strange earthly activity. Imagine taking of the animal and vegetational kingdoms and stuffing these into the body through an orifice called the mouth. It looks like a very ‘user’ relationship – albeit ‘user-friendly’. On the surface it sounds and looks rather comical. Yet the Kabbala explains this phenomenon in profound terms. When we eat, we draw on the spiritual source, the food-soul, and extract it to unite with our own soul system. And when we go out into the world and practice tikkun (repair of a broken world) we elevate the sparks of food-soul to a higher plane. And should we choose to hurt and degrade the world, we trap the same sparks in an unholy spiritual ‘prison’.

Eating is therefore a very holy task. When Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge they internalised the capacity to choose right from wrong, good from bad. Humanity gained a conscience – as well as a test of its consciousness. That is why in Kabbala the feminine side of the G-d-head (Shechina) is referred to as the Apple Orchard. This ‘Orchard’ is filled with apple trees: the Sefirotic energies, and especially the triad of three Sefirot: Hessed (kindness), Gevurah (severity) and Tif’eret (balance through beauty). Hessed (whose colour is white) is represented by the white pulp of the apple, Gevurah (whose colour is red) is represented by the red skin of the apple, and Tif’eret (whose colour is green) is represented by the stem of the apple.

When Adam and Eve were imbued with the capacity to choose right from wrong, these Sefirotic energies became their spiritual vehicle.

No longer does the Biblical narrative appear as a simplistic and quaint story. It now belies the profundity of the nature of humanity.

You are the apple of G-d’s eye.

  • Rabbi Laibl Wolf, is the Dean of Spiritgrow – The Josef Kryss Center, Australia

 

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