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If one had to choose a single word to describe an olive, it would be ‘versatile’. Olive oil was used daily to light the Menorah in the Bais Hamikdosh. Our first introduction to olive oil was the Shemen Hamishcha, an infused olive oil with a unique blend of spices used to anoint melachim, kohanim and klei haMikdash. Moreover, the yonah (dove) brought back an olive branch to Noach in the ark, and our baseline halachic measurement for eating something significant is a “k’zayis”, the size of an olive.1 The Gemara in Brochos tells us that if one sees an olive in a dream, it is a sign of peace; if one sees an olive branch, it is a sign of Torah scholarship.
There is an opinion in the Midrash that the fruit of the Eitz Hadaas, Tree of Knowledge, was from an olive tree. Additionally, Asher (one of Yaakov Avinu’s […]

Published Fall 2014

For over nineteen hundred years, the Jewish people have longed to return to Eretz Yisroel, the Land of Israel.  It is only in the Land of Israel that we can realize our full potential as a nation; it is only in the Land of Israel that the Torah’s blueprint for life can be completely fulfilled.  For the millennia, the most important dimension of this longing was the yearning to once again be able to fulfill the mitzvos hatluyos ba’aretz (agricultural laws), the commandments that can be observed only in the Land of Israel.  With Hashem’s help, many of us in this past generation have realized part of this two thousand year old dream.  Yet, this realization has presented us with new challenges.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest mitzva challenges of all times is the fulfillment of the mitzva of Shmitta, the year of Sabbatical rest for the land of Israel.  The Midrash perceives this multifaceted mitzva as being so challenging and difficult that he who meets […]

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Published Summer 2013
When a tourist comes to Israel from the Diaspora one of the things he has to get used to is the mitzvos hatluot b’aretz, the mitzvos that are unique to Israel. After he gets through taking trumah and maaser, tithing, and makes sure he doesn’t come during shmitta (beware next year!) he is suddenly hit with orla. And when he asks how to cope with this unfamiliar problem he is sometimes given a chart with a list of fruits and orla percentages which, if he isn’t totally confused, the charts will certainly finish off the job. “What do all these percentages mean? And why,” he asks, “can’t someone give me a yes or no answer instead of these percentages?” So what do the percentages on these fruit charts mean?

oil

Olive oil, the liquid gold of the ancients was touted for its nutritional, medicinal, and cosmetic value. As a fuel it illuminated the home. As a food ingredient it was a feast to the palate. Olive oil production is one of the world’s oldest industries. Interestingly, much of this ancient industry has not changed over the millennia.