THE DELICIOUS, JUICY FRUITS OF THE LAND
TASTE THEM FOR YOURSELF
By Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Everyone who has studied the Bible knows that Eretz Yisrael is known for her delicious tasting fruits. When the spies, whose jobs was to search out the good qualities of the Holy Land, discovered the size and taste of the fruits of the Holy Land, they were in shock and awe. The Torah teaches us that Israel’s produce is different than produce anywhere else in the world because its roots are sunk into the rich soil of the Holy Land: G-ds divinely chosen Land that He bequeathed to His Nation of Israel. This means that the fruits that are nurtured from the earth of the Land of Israel not only extract water and nutrients from the soil but they extract holiness as well. This is why the seven species, native to Israel, require a special Blessing to be said after consuming them. Devarim 8:7-8 states, “For Hashem, your G-d, is bringing you to a good Land: A Land flowing with streams of water, of springs and underground water coming forth in valleys and mountains…..a land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates; a Land of olive oil and honey.
Rabbi Nachman Kahana on Parsha Re’eh states that “the two parshiot of Eikev and Re’eh are the paradigm of the preeminence of Eretz Yisrael in Hashem’s master plan for His chosen people. These parshiot exalt the physical qualities of the land: its diverse vegetation, the richness of the crops, its abundant rainfall blending together to create the mitzvah of offering thanks to the Almighty for His kindness in immutably dedicating this land to the Jewish people.”
Moses begged G-d 515 times to be permitted to come into the Land for various reasons but one sticks out in my mind: he desperately wanted to come into the Land to taste its fruit. He wanted to taste the fruit, because he understood the fruit of the Holy Land is a Divine manifestation of G-ds loving providence over and care of the Land. In other words, it is as if G-d Himself brings all the elements of earth, wind, sun and air together, along with the rain, to infuse an aspect of holiness, an inner spiritual life force into the fruit itself, thereby making it Holy Food. Moses wanted to taste the actualized end product of a physical, tangible fruit whose inner essence was completely holy; a physical nourishment from a spiritual realm. I can picture the scene in my mind’s eye: Moses picking and eating grapes, which are one of the seven special species the Land of Israel is known for, with their delicious, sweet juice running down his beard and his soul bursting with the joy of tasting G-ds spiritual manifestation No wonder he so longed to step foot into G-d’s Holy Land; there is so much to taste and savor both physical and spiritual.
In the Torah portion of Eikev, it reminds us that Eretz Yisrael does not need a Nile river or slaves carrying water on their shoulders to water its fields because it is G-d Himself who provides water for the crops. The rains themselves do not come from a big river overflow but are completely under G-ds control. The parsha also states that Eretz Yisrael is a virtuous land; a land that G-d seeks out and upon which he focuses his attention from the beginning of the year to the end. His eyes are always looking over His beloved Holy Land.
Living in Israel allows us to eat the delicious fruits and grains the Bible speaks of. It is readily available in the grocery stores, the shuk, roadside vendors and especially farms and orchards where you can pick your own. I find that eating the Biblical fruits mentioned in the Bible strengthens the connection between the G-d of Israel, the Children of Israel and their Promised Land. When it comes to agricultural tourism in Israel, the happening place for fruit picking is the lush orchards of the Golan. Our neighbors mentioned they had gone berry picking in the Golan so we decided to do the same.
We visited a wonderful farm in the Golan called Sha’al on Highway 978 between Wasset and Odem junctions—a mere 40 minutes from our home in Tzfat. They are open daily from June until September and closed on Shabbat. The farm charges a small fee to use the facility. You are given a basket or two for picking your produce. Strolling through the fields, you are able to collect and eat a variety of fruits such as: strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, blueberries, cherries, figs, currants, grapefruits, grapes, apples, peaches, pears, nectarines and Sabra fruit from the cactus plant. These fruits are available at different times during the growing season which is a short season. We found raspberries, tomatoes, and grapes at Sha’al but there are other farms with different crops. We meandered around the farm and savored both picking and eating the delicious fruits. You can collect and eat as much as you want. You can also bring other foods and have a picnic with what you collect. This farm had tents set up for rent. Each farm has its own specialty. It is best to check the website below to see the calendar of availability. It was so much fun watching all the Jewish families and children running through the fields, joyfully picking and eating and saying Blessings to G-d for His wondrous bounty. I felt like a child; giddy with joy, dirty hands and juice running down my chin. Once you are finished eating the fruits, you check out and pay for the remainder of fruit you picked. At the check-out counter, you can take ma’aser and recite the Blessing.
I did plan ahead and brought an apron and a big sun-hat which was wonderful. They have places to wash the fruit and your hands of course. Next time I would bring lightweight gardening gloves and or wet wipes especially if you bring kids along. Anyway, we had a ball and the area of the Golan is full of places to stop and enjoy waterfalls and rivers, war memorials, fruit farms and much more. Nearby on Highway 918, we found a little shopping center with a fabulous spice shop. It was spacious and beautifully laid out and had the most savory smelling and yummy tasting herbs and spices. It felt like a treasured discovery, a bonus, if you will.
I would highly recommend fruit picking in the Golan especially before shemittah begins, so you can truly savor the fresh, tasty fruits G-d has given us.
I bless us all that we always appreciate the richest pleasures awaiting all of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. Develop your own awareness to see the hand of G-d in every kernel of grain and seed of fruit. Become mindful of the special relationship G-d has with Israel, whereby His bounty flows directly to His people without intermediaries for “It is not in the strength of the farmers but G-d Himself who enabled the crops to grow.”
With Blessings of bounty, love, light and the sweet taste of juicy fruits, Ariella Bracha
Here is the link: