Shavuot and the Seven Spieces

"You shall bring your first fruits to the 

House of the L-rd your G-d... " (Ex. 23:19)

 

The Names of the Festival


Shavuot is the anniversary of the Revelation of the Law at Mount Sinai, when the Children of Israel received the Torah from the Holy One, blessed be He.Shavuot literally means "weeks;" Shavuot is thus known as the Festival of Weeks. 

 

It is called so because it culminates the seven week period of counting the omer which begins on the second day of Passover, when the omer barley offering is brought to the Temple. But the Bible also refers to it as the "Feast of Firstfruits" (Exodus 23:16, Numbers 28:26), and the firstfruits cannot be brought to the Temple until then.

The Seven Species

 

While the Land of Israel is blessed with many fruits, the seven described in the Biblical verse, below, had a special status -- they were the First Fruits brought to the Temple on Shavuot, and given as an offering to God. As such, they symbolize the Land of Israel and the connection between the Jewish people and this land. Five of the seven spieces are Fruit trees and Zo Artzeinu focuses on planting all five of them. Olives, Grapes, Figs, Pomegranates and Date trees.

 
"For the Lord your God 
is bringing you into a good land. . .  
of wheat and barley and  
grapevines and figs and pomegranates; 
a land of olives and honey."
WHEAT Chitah
Wheat's essential role puts it first among the seven species. Since ancient times, it has been considered one of man's most basic crops: from wheat flour, bread is produced. On Shavuot, the festival of the First Fruits, the first of the wheat crop would be brought to the Temple, as a culmination of the

Omer period that began on Pesach

BARLEYSe'orah
Barley was, and still is, an important grain in Israel. Because it requires less water than wheat, it grows even in the arid fields of the Negev (Southern Israel). Since it ripens before wheat, its harvest begins in the month of Nissan (spring). On Pesach, the Omer offering of barley was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem as part of the festival. Bread prepared from barley was considered to be "poor man's" bread, possibly because it was not considered as tasty as bread made from wheat.
GRAPES Gefen

Man has been cultivating grapes from the earliest times: the first vineyard mentioned in the Bible was planted by Noah after the Flood. The cluster of grapes, brought to the Children of Israel in the wilderness by the Spies, symbolized the bounty of the Land of Israel. Throughout the generations, grapes have provided fruit and wine, and contributed to the economy of the indigenous Jewish community. Wine, indicative of joy, is used in many Jewish rituals and ceremonies.

FIG T'einah
The broad fig tree provides a lot of shade, as the prophet Micha proclaims in his vision of peace in the Land: "Each man will sit beneath his grapevine and his fig tree, and no one will fear. . . ." This sweet tasting fruit ripens in the hottest part of the summer and can be eaten fresh or dried. The Bible refers to the fig as a symbol of fertility. It was also one of the fruits brought to Moses by the spies to prove that the Land of Israel was fruitful.
POMEGRANATE Rimon

An old Hebrew song by Yaakov Orland portrays the pomegranate:

The pomegranate tree has aromas that flow
out from the Dead Sea and on to Jericho. . .

The pomegranate is a dark red fruit with rich red flowers, and its abundant seeds serve as a powerful symbol of fertility. The pomegranate's shape has been used in many decorative objects, such as the rimonim bells used to decorate Torah scrolls, the 200 rimonim of copper on the beams of the Temple, and the rimonim which decorated the High Priest's garment in the Temple.

OLIVE - Zayit

The olive tree is one of the oldest and most common trees in the Land of Israel. Indeed, there are olive trees in the Galilee that are estimated to be thousands of years old. The tree's leaves are green all year round, its roots are strong, and the silvery underside of the leaves gives off a sheen of light.

In Biblical times, olive oil was used to anoint priests and kings. In its purified form it was used to light the seven branched Menorah (candelabra) in the Temple. The olive itself is eaten after having been preserved. Its oil is also used for cosmetics, healing compounds, and soaps. The olive branch has been a symbol of peace ever since it was used by Noah as evidence that the flood had ended. It is part of the emblem of the State of Israel, its deep roots symbolizing the people's strong attachment to the land.
DATE (Honey)  - Tamar (D'vash)

The date is both one of the Seven Species for which the Land of Israel is noted, and one of the Four Species used on the festival of Sukkot. The date tree is a tall and its fruit grows in clusters near the top. The sweet dates, which ripen at the end of summer, are eaten fresh or dried; they are also used to make honey. The tree itself is quite versatile -- its branches being used for cover (as in the Sukkah), its fibers for rope,and its trunk for building.

 

Pictures courtesy of the Bezalel-Levy Gallery

 

Although we can't bring Bikurim to the Temple yet, we CAN plant fruit trees!

G-d willing the fruits from THOSE trees will be brought to the 3rd Temple!

 

Plant a fruit tree from one of the Seven Species mentioned in the torah (Bible)

Dedicate your tree in honor or memory of a friend or loved one.

We will mail them an authentic certificate with the printed dedication.

Makes a wonderful and meaningful gift.

 

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Dedicate Trees in Honor or Memory of Loved Ones

Makes a Meaningful Gift!

Rabbi Berel Wein

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They have a good track record of planting trees and keeping the Mitzvos" (Biblical Commandments)

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