Research Query: Why is the image of an "apple orchard" central to Kabbalah (Zohar, Ari)? True, the core idea of תפוחים (usually translated as apples) as relating to romantic love is found in Song of Songs 3, 3 and 8,5, but why does the Zohar refer to the Garden of Eden as ‘The Orchard of Holy Apples’ – קדישין תפוחין חקל Chakal Tapuchin Kadishin (e.g. Zohar 3:271a)? Why is the Shechina equated with the Sefira of Malchut as an Apple Orchard? Why does the ARI use the theme of Chakal Tapuchin Kadishin in his poetic Shabbat meal song? אַתְקִינוּ סְעוּדָתָא דְמַלְכָּא. דָּא הִיא סְעוּדָתָא דַּחֲקַל תַּפּוּחִין קַדִּישִׁין. Is this a reaction to the Christian idea of apple as the forbidden fruit in Eden? Please respond to Dr. Natan Ophir at NatanOphir21@gmail.com
P.S. The earliest historical cue I could find so far is Talmud Taanit 29b where Rav identifies the smell of the field that Isaac senses with Jacob (Genesis 27, 27) as שְׂדֵה תַּפּוּחִים. But are these indeed “apples” as we know them today?