1 & 2: Wheat & Barley: Transcendence and Vitality

Animal soul, which embodies our natural, self-oriented instincts

G‑dly soul, embodying our transcendent drives—our desire to go beyond ourselves

 Wheat = mainstay of the human diet

Barley = typical animal food


Torah Sources & Examples

a)  Isha Sotah-The wayward wife: Her offering is of barley and not of wheat. She degraded herself and behaved like an animal; let her offering therefore consist of barley, which is animal feed. (Rashi, Numbers 5:15)

 b) Passover=the Omer offering of barley      Shavuot=Offering of the Two showbreads


(Wheat: Transcendence -The G‑dly Soul                Barley: Vitality -The Animal Soul)


Wheat and barley, the two grains among the Seven Kinds, represent the staples of our inner make-up. Following these come five fruits—appetizers and desserts on our spiritual menu—which add flavor and zest to our basic endeavor of developing our animal and G‑dly souls.


3. Grape: Excitement, Joy

 The defining characteristic of the grape is joy:

Torah Sources:

a) "My wine, which makes joyous G‑d and men."

(Yotam's Parable,  Judges 9:13)

 b) “And wine that gladdens man’s heart” (Psalms, 104:15)

 c) "When wine enters, the concealed emerges." (Talmud)

 Both the G‑dly and the animal souls contain vast reservoirs of insight and feeling that never see the light of day because there is nothing to stimulate them. The grape represents the element of joy in our lives—the joy that unleashes these potentials and adds depth, color and intensity to everything we do.


4. Fig: Involvement

 We might be doing something fully and completely; we might even be doing it joyously. But are we there? Are we involved?

 The fig is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge - the fruit which Adam and Eve tasted.  

 a) Knowledge (daat) implies an intimate involvement with the thing known (as in the verse, "And Adam knew his wife" (Genesis 4:1) (Tanya chapter 3)

 The fig represents our capacity for a deep and intimate involvement in our every positive endeavor—an involvement which signifies that we are one with what we are doing.


5. Pomegranate: Deed/Action

a) “Even the empty ones amongst you are full of good deeds as a pomegranate [is full of seeds] (Talmud Berachot 57a )

 The pomegranate addresses the paradox of how an individual may be empty and, at the same time, be full of good deeds as a pomegranate.

Pomegranate is a compartmentalized fruit.

The pomegranate is the fig's antithesis, representing our capacity to overreach ourselves and act in a way that surpasses our internal spiritual state. It is our capacity to do and achieve things that are utterly incompatible with who and what we are at the present moment.


6. Olive: Struggle

The olive in us is that part of ourselves that thrives on struggle, that revels in it, that would no more escape it than escape life itself.

 Just like an olive, say our sages, which yields its oil only when pressed, so, too, do we yield what is best in us only when pressed between the millstones of life and the counter forces of a divided self.

 7. Date: Perfection, Tranquility

The olive in us is contrasted by the date, which represents our capacity for peace, tranquility and perfection. While it is true that we're best when we're pressed, it is equally true that there are potentials in our soul that well forth only when we are completely at peace with ourselves.

 a) "The tzaddik (perfectly righteous person) shall bloom as the date palm" (Psalms 92:13)

 While the olive and date describe two very different spiritual personalities, they both exist within every man. For even in the midst of our most ardent struggles, we can always find comfort and fortitude in the tranquil perfection that resides at the core of our souls. And even in our most tranquil moments, we can always find the challenge that will provoke us to yet greater achievement.