All of creation can be divided into four elements.

1. The first is the inanimate, the mineral, that exhibits no external indicators of life.

2. The second is the vegetable that enjoys vertical motion (through growth) but is incapable of lateral movement.

3. The third is the animal, which demonstrates its enormous life energy through both vertical and lateral movement.

4. Man towers above all. Man demonstrates signs of life not only on the outside, but also on the inside. No creature has comparable intellectual and communicative skills.

This hierarchy raises a question. Why is man sustained by that which is lower than he is? Does logic not dictate that lower life forms be sustained by higher life forms? Conversely, does the higher life form not somehow compromise its purity by receiving life energy from a lower life form?

Lower is Higher

This question forces us to reevaluate the face value of the world as it appears to us. Kabbalah teaches that creatures which appear lower on the totem pole originate on a level that is in fact higher. Their lofty origins enable them to journey forth to low and distant states because a stronger source is capable of sending its offspring much further than a weaker source.

When we view the hierarchy from this perspective, we discover that the origin of vegetation is in fact greater then that of man. Man is not sustained by the bread’s substance, which is lower than he is, but by G‑d’s energy within it, the spiritual origin of the bread.