The Forbidden Fruit:

A few days ago I mentioned that there are those who view either the Tomato or the Mango as favourable alternatives to the Apple as the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I have recently come across an even more preferable option: Wheat.

Let me explain:

The tree by which Adam sinned was wheat, since all is in the secret and in the word chitah.
The Zohar, Balak §6,79.

‘Chitah’, which is so helpfully explained in the preceding passages, means ‘wheat’, and is made from the letters chet and tet. Chet and tet are, of course, the straw and the chaff. And, respectively, they are also the male and the female. It should also be noted that chet and tet are indicative of the word ‘sin’ as in Hebrew, so the annotation explains, ‘sin’ is spelled ‘chet, chet, tet, aleph’.

Indeed, this is why barley was to be offered in the wave offering.

[pause, shift gears:]

Some of you may know that the final semester of my undergraduate career I wrote a paper arguing for why wheaten bread and grape wine (mixed with water) were the only acceptable elements for the celebration of the Eucharist. This passage in the Zohar goes on to speak of wine, thusly:

there is no sanctification except through wine, and there is no grace except by wine
Ibid., §6,88.

And again the speaker says:

whoever says the blessing over wine and reaches ‘for the land’ needs to add water to it, since he should not say the grace of: ‘Have mercy, Hashem, our Elohim, upon Yisrael, Your people’ unless there is water added to that wine.
Ibid., §6,89.

This last part is thus because, as the annotation is quick to point out, until water and wine are mixed together “there is no compassion in Malchut”, and there exists “judgment without mercy”. (Malchut is both the angel appearing to Jacob and, when resting over the Cherubim, Adonai.)

Now, be aware that these are simply ponderings of mine, marvelings, if you will, of the possible implications of these rather interesting passages in the Zohar. But, we have, at least some, indication that within the Jewish traditions there is an understanding of wheat as the fruit of the garden, the fruit that brought about the fall of man. Christ ties himself to wheat in taking bread and saying: “This is my body.”

One could thus argue that like with the tree, the man, and the woman (as is pointed out by Irenaeus, among others) there is a recapitulation of the fruit itself in the sacrificial act of Christ’s passion.

Taking the symbolic meanings mentioned above, in the Eucharistic Feast we again eat the Forbidden Fruit, and follow it by taking of the judgment of grace mixed with mercy.

This, I think, is very interesting.


~ by jeorgesmith on 27 June 2007.

2 Responses to “The Forbidden Fruit:”

  1. Interesting indeed. Not sure how consequential I think it is, but it’s interesting. This brings to mind a view I’ve heard since moving back up to hippie territory, that the onset of human imperfection was at the Agricultural Revolution.

  2. It does seem peculiar to me that in a passage that repeatedly distinguishes between “every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it,” the Zohar would tell us that wheat must be this fruit which grows on a tree. I can understand wheat–the seed of a grass–falling under the category of “every seed-bearing plant–and I could see mongos as being among “every tree that has fruit with seed in it,” and I can see the attraction of a theory that would put Christ’s sacrifice (and our commemoration of it) into identical terms as the action of the fall. But in a passage that distinguishes between plants and trees, seeds and fruit with seeds, I think it takes too great a mystical leap to equate the apple with wheat.

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