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Genesis 1:29:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים הִנֵּה֩ נָתַ֨תִּי לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־כׇּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב ׀ זֹרֵ֣עַ זֶ֗רַע אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י כׇל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאֶת־כׇּל־הָעֵ֛ץ אֲשֶׁר־בּ֥וֹ פְרִי־עֵ֖ץ זֹרֵ֣עַ זָ֑רַע לָכֶ֥ם יִֽהְיֶ֖ה לְאׇכְלָֽה׃ God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food.

Man was given seed-bearing plants and fruits to eat ... as we shall see, seed-bearing plants means - eat the seeds, but not the plant. The animals, however, were not given seeds or fruits - but (Genesis 1:30) plants/herbage only:

וּֽלְכׇל־חַיַּ֣ת הָ֠אָ֠רֶץ וּלְכׇל־ע֨וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֜יִם וּלְכֹ֣ל ׀ רוֹמֵ֣שׂ עַל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ֙ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה אֶת־כׇּל־יֶ֥רֶק עֵ֖שֶׂב לְאׇכְלָ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃ And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give] all the green plants for food.” And it was so.

The Ramban makes this patently clear:

וטעם "אֶת כָּל עֵשֶׂב זֹרֵעַ זֶרַע" ואת כל העץ אשר בו פרי עץ זורע זרע לכם יהיה לאכלה, שיאכלו זרועי העשב כגרגרי החטה והשעורה והקטניות וזולתם, ויאכלו כל פרי העץ, אבל העץ עצמו אינו להם לאכלה, וגם לא העשב, עד שנתקלל אדם ונאמר לו: "וְאָכַלְתָּ אֶת עֵשֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶה" (בראשית ג׳:י״ח). The meaning of the expression, every seed bearing plant… and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food, is that they should eat the seeds of herbs, such as the grains of wheat, barley, beans, and the like, and that they should eat all fruits of the tree; but the tree itself was not given to them for food, nor was the herb itself until man was cursed and he was told, And thou shalt eat the herb of the field.

Thus, seeds and fruits were originally the foodstuff of man; not the herb/leafy portions. "Seed bearing plant" means 'eat the seed, but not the herbage!' Only after mankind was cursed did he/she partake of the leafy portions (like the rest of the animal kingdom). Food for thought!

After the curse - Genesis 3:18:

וְק֥וֹץ וְדַרְדַּ֖ר תַּצְמִ֣יחַֽ לָ֑ךְ וְאָכַלְתָּ֖ אֶת־עֵ֥שֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶֽה׃ Thorns and thistles shall it sprout for you. But your food shall be the grasses of the field;

Rabbeinu Bachya poignantly states (Genesis 3:5):

והיה עונשו מדה כנגד מדה, לפי שעבר על המדה ונטה לבו לתענוגי העולם לאכול מה שנמנע ממנו, ולבקש תאות הגוף כבהמות, על כן הענישו במאכל הבהמות והשוה אותו להן "His punishment was measure for measure. Because he transgressed the [good] attribute and steered his heart to worldly delights to eat was prevented/forbidden from him and to seek bodily pleasures like the animals, therefore he was punished with animal foodstuff and [man was] made equal to them [animals]...

Does any of this matter nowadays? Originally, mankind post-curse, by necessity, had to eat whatever grew. Today, however, we can generally choose what we eat. Is it desirable to choose fruits and seeds over leafy herbs and plants? Shall we resign ourselves to the animal kingdom foodstuff?

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  • To the contrary, we now have a commandment to eat leafy herbs and plants, it's literally what G-d told us to do! Jan 16 at 15:16

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