Olive Harvesting, Kibbutz Tzova, Israel, 2006
Olive Harvesting, Kibbutz Tzova, Israel, 2006Click to Enlarge
It’s the season of the olive harvest in Israel, and these young people are helping out on the kibbutz where they live. Since ancient times, olives have been a key crop and an enduring symbol of the Land of Israel. In the Bible, Israel is described as “a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs and pomegranates, and land of olive trees and honey” (Deuteronomy, 8:8). Olive trees have long been cultivated not only for their meaty fruit but also to produce oil for lamps and cooking. In addition, the olive branch—a symbol of peace originating in the story of Noah—is part of the emblem of the modern state of Israel.
וַיָּחֶל עוֹד, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים; וַיֹּסֶף שַׁלַּח אֶת-הַיּוֹנָה, מִן-הַתֵּבָה. וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב, וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה-זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיה. וַיֵּדַע נֹח, כִּי-קַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ.
[Noah] waited another seven days, and again sent out the dove from the ark. The dove came back to him toward evening, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! Then Noah knew that waters had decreased on the earth.
– Genesis 8:10-11
כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיך, מְבִיאֲך אל-אֶרֶץ טוֹבָה: אֶרֶץ, נַחֲלֵי מָיִם–עֲיָנת וּתְהמֹת, יצְֹאִים בַּבִּקְעָה וּבָהָר. אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂערָֹה, וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן; אֶרֶץ-זֵית שֶׁמֶן, וּדְבָשׁ. אֶרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְמִסְכֵּנֻת תּאֹכַל-בָּהּ לֶחֶם—לֹא-תֶחְסַר כֹּל בָּהּ; אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲבָנֶיה בַרְזֶל, וּמֵהֲרָרֶיה תַּחְצב נְחשֶֹׁת.
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and date syrup; a land where you may eat food without stint, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you can mine copper.
– Deuteronomy 8:7-9
The world is a tree, and human beings are its fruit.
– Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Jewish philosopher and poet, 11th century
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow.
– Anne Frank