Love of the Land

For the week ending 15 June 2013 / 6 Tammuz 5773

Oil-Rich Olive - Promise of the Future

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Of all the seven species mentioned in praise of Eretz Yisrael the olive alone is referred to not as a fruit but as the oil that comes from the fruit.

To understand this we must analyze a point made by our Sages (Menachot 53b) about the comparison that the Prophet Yirmiyahu made (Yirmiyahu 11:16) between the olive and the Jewish People. “Just as the purpose of the olive is the oil which is extracted from it,” says Rabbi Yitzchak, “so too is the purpose of the Jewish People realized only after it reaches the end of its processing.”

Maharsha explains this comparison in the following way:

The olive itself has no great value as a fruit and consuming olives too frequently, say our Sages, can be harmful to the memory. Only after the olive has been squeezed and crushed to extract its very valuable oil is this fruit’s potential finally realized. The Jewish People have a great spiritual potential but it may take the crushing experience of suffering in exile to arouse them to repent their sins and realize that potential. In the days of Mashiach this process will be completed and the “oil” of the Jewish “olive” will come forth.

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