This past January, my family and I visited Equinox, a restaurant in Washington, DC to celebrate my birthday. We carefully prepared our research prior to the celebration in order to fully appreciate and value our experience. We wanted to ensure that our meal would be healthy, nourishing, as well as satisfy our physical and spiritual selves. Similarly in Kabbalic literature, â€œthe diner in the Zohar consumes food of the material world as an avenue to uncovering mystical heights that lie behind itâ€ (Hecker, 1996). In the following essay, I will briefly look at one aspect of the Zohar having to do with the concept of food as an allegory for the shekhinah with a primary focus on the imagery of food and hospitality.
Fruit Imagery in Lech Lecha
As children we are constantly reminded to eat our fruits and vegetables. These foods are nourishing, healthy and provide us with crucial nutrients in order to survive. It ...view middle of the document...
Matt sees the Assembly of Israel including the Shekhinah, so the poem is a celebration of love between God and man as well as a celebration of Tiferet and Shekhinah.
The sefirot of Tiferet is known as the â€œBlessed Holy One,â€ â€œKing,â€ â€œSun,â€ and the biblical representation of Tiferet is Jacob. Tiferet is also referenced to as the masculine presence of the divine. Tiferet is symbolized by the individual apple because an apple has red skin, white pulp, and green leaves. Kabbalists infer that this represents a sefirotic triad of Hesed (greatness), Gevurah (judgment), and Tiferet (blessed holy one) (Matt, 2004). These three sefirot create a beautiful, healthy image of God, similar to one of an apple. Due to her partnership with the entire Assembly of Israel, the Shekhinah is referred to as an apple orchard. This symbolization represents the feminine divine presenceâ€™s ability to consistently nourish the blessed holy one through the roots of the other sefirot. Since the apple has long been a symbol for knowledge, the shekhinahâ€™s roots are literally a life force and a source of wisdom for Tiferet. She is an apple orchard as well as an â€œorchard of Torahâ€ (Green, 2004).
â€œIs a meal authentic because it is connected to a deeper â€˜reality:â€™ to divine beings, God, the supernatural? Or when it is an ecstatic experience? The medieval Jewish mystics say that â€˜real eatingâ€™ is a form of prophecyâ€ (Krauss, 2008). If a meal is truly satisfactory, the participants of that meal should then acknowledge that God has been a guest at their table. The Kabbalists say that if God is not mentioned at the table then a person will not be truly satisfied with themselves or their life. Rabbi Hiyya states that â€œBlessed is the man whose table exhibits these two qualities: words of Torah which ascend to the Holy One, and food for the poorâ€ (Zohar 1:154a). The Zohar also states that the Shabbat table must be prepared on Sabbath eve so that when the blessings descend from Above they may find something upon which to rest, for â€œno blessing rests on an empty tableâ€(Matt, 2004).
Just as an apple or a full Shabbat table nourishes the body, the Shekhinah is able to nourish the soul.