What I Understand About Red Sauce

We understand from the Zohar that the mishkan [the Sanctuary] was perfect meeting place of the upper and lower worlds, and it is in the wonder of that confluence that the mishkan derives its power.

There was something right about the mishkan, you said, because the first Temple and the second Temple they were both destroyed, but the mishkan, the mishkan endured.

Remember Sforno*, I said, he gave us four reasons why the mishkan remained intact.

Yes, but Sforno was Italian, you said, and all his metaphors are pasta and sauce.

Pasta is the perfect metaphor I said, when you understand red sauce, you understand everything about the mishkan. The perfect red sauce, I said, the clear and certain superiority of the red sauce, that elevation of the lowly tomato to holy consequence, the interpenetration of spices, herbs, flavors, tomatoes, the sauce the identity of its ingredients but the ingredients not the identity of the sauce, as if there is something that makes it sauce that is larger somehow, more consequential, of another substance even, than that which makes it up. That’s the thing about the perfect red sauce, when it’s made right you cannot pick out the individual tastes, unless it’s a wrong sauce, then you know there’s too much basil or it’s too heavy with oregano or bay leaf or too olive oily, but when the sauce is right it’s a perfect blend, and it just is, not this or that, it just is, the perfect red sauce — it is many and it is one, many ingredients one perfect taste — not a combination of independent tastes but one glorious irrefractable, irreduceable taste. The perfect red sauce — this is, in a word, the mystery of sauce — the perfect red sauce.

Yes, of course, you said, Sforno understood this quite well about the mishkan. It is the perfect blend, as it is written in the Zohar, All the aspects of the Upper World were established in the Lower, so that the two worlds should be firmly knitted together.

And, when God commanded Moses to make the Mishkan, Moses stood bewildered, until God showed him the pattern, that is, the sauce. “And see that you make them after their pattern, which is being shown you in the mount” (Ex. 25:40).

* Ovadiah ben Jacob Sforno, Italian exegete, philosopher, and physician, born at Cesena about 1475, died at Bologna in 1550.