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Seven Fruits of the Soul

Seven Fruits of the Soul


"G‑d is bringing you to a good land ... A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates; a land of oil-yielding olives and [date] honey" (Deuteronomy 8:8)

The Torah is a code. Or rather, the Torah is also a code: it very much means what it says, but also enfolds many levels of metaphor and allusion beneath its surface meaning.

So when the Torah talks about about a promised land that is distinguished by seven special fruits, it is also speaking about the human soul and its seven special qualities that drive it and enrich it. According on the symbolism in the teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidism, the "seven kinds" with which the Land of Israel is blessed—wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates—represent the qualities of transcendence, vitality, joy, awareness, action, struggle and tranquility.1

1) Transcendence ("wheat"): This is one of the great mysteries of the human condition: Why are we never content to simply be? We're always seeking the "more": to discover a new world, to rise above ourselves, to take it ("it" being whatever we happen to be involved in right now) to "the next level." Not satisfied to know where we are, we want to know where we came from and where we are going. Not satisfied with the self-defined, self-oriented reality of our "natural" existence, we strive for a self-obliterating union with G‑d...

2) Vitality ("barley"): Our transcendent self has a twin—our vital, animal self. And while the animal self comes with no mean load of negative baggage (selfishness, greed, lust, vanity, cruelty...), selfhood has its positive points as well: a willpower, passion and energy that the more "spiritual" self could never muster. The trick, of course, is to channel it to the right places...

3) Joy ("grapes"): A happy person is an open book. Everything gushes forth; his personality flows free, without restraint and inhibition. Joy is the battering ram that breaks down barriers and constraints, whether they are internal or external, imagined or real...

4) Awareness ("fig"): Knowledge is more than power: it is the ability to involve oneself fully in one's life and actions. A deed done in ignorance is a stab in the dark; a deed born out of knowledge is focused and effective. A deed done in ignorance is disjointed, alien—the deed of a stranger even to the one who does it; a deed born out of knowledge is an integral deed—an extension of, and enhancement to, the totality of the doer...

5) Action ("pomegranate"): And yet, there are times when the imperative is simply: Do! The ability to act because action is required, even if knowledge and understanding are lacking, even if it is "out of character" for us, is an all-important—and redeeming—feature of the human soul.

6) Struggle ("olive"): There is another great mystery of the human state: the fact that we are at our most innovative and resourceful when faced by limits and constrictions. It may be as benign as the deadline for an office project or as momentous as a national crisis—we're at our best when we're pressed, and our most sublime juices are squeezed out of us in response to challenging, even oppressive, conditions. This is the sixth soul-quality, represented by the "olive"--the power to translate challenge and adversary into a potent force for transformation and achievement...

7) Tranquility ("date"): Like everything else, struggle has a flip-side: the blessings of tranquility. Even deeper than its "olive" lies the "date" of the soul: its core of tranquil perfection which nothing—neither the turmoils of the spirit, the vicissitudes of society, nor the upheavals of history—can disturb or even touch. And this well of harmony doesn't just sit there in the inner recesses of our soul—we have the power to bore down into ourselves, to access it and tap it, to create for ourselves a space of immutable truth and perfect peace amidst the storms that batter our lives...2

For a more detailed explanation of how these seven fruits represent these seven qualities, see The Seven Kinds in the "From the Chassidic Masters" folder of this week's Parshah section.
Based on Sefer Hasichos 5750, pp. 273-285.
By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
Illustrations by Chassidic artist Michoel Muchnik.
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Judith L Witten Brockton, Ma/USA October 17, 2010

Seven Fruits of the Soul The one that made me think alot was Awareness (fig)-A deed done in ignorance is a stab in the dark- To involve oneself in ones life in a full way with a full perspective. Then it was followed up with Action (pomegranate) You stated that sometimes one must act- that action is the wayEven if knowledge and understanding is lacking. These two ideas remind me of understanding relationships and how they work for some reason-Also dealing with ones fears when it comes to relationships-making the jump to action from knowledge or better yet knowing when you've thought enough and it is time to communicate-I pray that I am making sense-I enjoyed this reflection-Thank you Reply

Jon Lennart Aasenden Tonsberg, Vestfold/Norway July 26, 2007

About time For the past couple of years, the deeper visdom of the jewish people have begun to reach the masses. Having read up on kabbalah, i find it to be a remarkable science of the soul. While only drops have reached me, i want to run right down to the well and soak in it. Reply

Anonymous sydney, nsw August 13, 2006

The path to wisdome and enlightenment is through knowledge - I am always happy to recieve more literature about jewish teachings Reply

Anonymous Gisborne, NZ August 11, 2006

Seven Fruits of the Soul As a small child my mother had a book with the tree of life illustrated on the cover.
It was lost. I searched for another picture like it, it had a mysterious spiritual connection to me.59 years later I found one. In Nazareth on a small plate. I also found my Jewish heritage!
The painting of the tree of life by Michoel Muchnik and the article by Yanki Tauber filled me with emotion.. it was like coming home.
G-d bless you a thousand fold. Reply

Dina Bremridge Cape Town, South Africa via August 11, 2006

Chasidic artist: MICHAEL MUCHNIK I am so happy to find out at last about the artist MICHAEL MUCHNIK. About 2-3 years ago I acquired a Hadassah Magazine which published his representation of Queen Esther on the front cover. The publisher was unable to give me any info about Michael. So today as I downloaded e-Torah I was absolutely thrilled to see more of Michael Munchnik's art works and to even see the artist himself pictured in his gallery. I feel his works reflect a Jewish inspiration of our Biblical and cultural heritage. I pray that I shall have the opportunity to visit his gallery in the near future and meet him in person. I would love to see his illustrations for children particularly as I am blessed with 2 gorgeous grandchildren: a grand-daugher Sasha aged 2 years, and a grand-son Kieran who will be 2 in September and who both live near me in Cape Town.
Thank you for transmitting this wonderful selection of Michael Muchnik's art.
Shabbat Shalom. Reply

Anonymous Los Angeles, CA August 9, 2006

This is reassuring It is reassuriing to know that there exists an opposite to constant struggle (which seems to be tranquility). It is also reassuring to see that to struggle and seek peace from that struggle isn't life's only purpose. I also enjoyed seeing different states of being (joy, struggle, action, etc.) are so concretely and colorfully illustrated. Reply

Roxanne Perri Aventura, Florida August 7, 2006

SEVEN FRUITS OF THE SOUL The article "Seven Fruits of the Soul " by Yanki Tauber where he compared the kabbalistic teaching of the fruits with their corresponding attributes was well written and expessed in a unique manner. The beautiful picture by Muchnik enhanced the glory of the article. Thanks, Reply

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