What Do Olives and Honey Have in Common?


In Parshat Ha’azinu, Devarim 32:13, Moshe recounts God’s kindness to the Jewish people: “God shall transport them over the summit of the earth (bamatei aretz) where they will consume the produce of the fields (tnuvot sadai); and God will nurture them with honey (dvash) of bedrock and oil (shemen) of staunchest rock mass”.

Rashi explains that the summit of the earth is the Land of Israel. According to Sifrei the Land of Israel is higher than all of the other lands (that is why immigration to Israel is called Aliya-going up). Sifrei adds that the fruits in the Land of Israel are quicker to develop and ripen than the fruits of other lands.

Chizkuni points out that the honey from the bedrock is date honey from dates that grow in the palm branches in the rocks. Chizkuni also brings a different opinion from the Bechor Shor who says that the honey from the bedrock is bee honey which the bees bring from the crevices in the rocks. Bechor Shor adds that the olive trees usually grow in rocky terrain.

Aside from their being the two species that are sold in bottles and easily exported, where else have we seen honey and olive-oil mentioned together?

In the list of the seven species of Israel, the olive oil and honey are singled out as separate from the other five species with a separate emphasis on the Land of Israel,  “Ertez chitah…eretz zeit shemen u’dvash”, “A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, a land of olive oil and honey”.

In reference to the manna we read, Shmot 31:6, “The House of Israel called it Manna. It was like a coriander seed, it was white and tasted like a cake fried with honey”. In Bamidbar 11:8 “…it tasted like the taste of dough kneeded with oil”.

As we move into the Shmittah year (Sabbatical of the Land) let us remember that the produce of Israel is a gift from God just as the manna was.

Have a happy and sweet new year!