Don’t Abuse the Bounties of the Land of Israel

Photo Courtesy Joshua Halickman

In Parshat Ha’Azinu (Dvarim 32:13-14), we find references to the amazing bounties of the Land of Israel’s agricultural riches and flourishing livestock:

He shall transport them over the summit of the earth where they will consume the produce of the fields; and He shall nurture them with honey of bedrock and oil of staunchest rock mass. Butter-fat of cattle and milk of sheep with the fat of lambs, and rams native to Bashan and he-goats, with wheat as fat as kidneys; and the wine flavored blood of grapes will you drink like delicious wine.

In these two verses, we see the riches of four out of the seven species of Israel- wheat, grapes, olive oil and honey.

We also see references to the plethora of livestock of the Land of Israel.

In the Midrash, Sifri 32:13, we see the fulfillment of this prophecy of abundance in the days of King Shlomo (Melachim II 5:2-3):

Shlomo’s provision for one day was: thirty kor of fine flour, 60 kor of flour, 10 fattened oxen, 20 oxen from the pasture, and a hundred sheep and goats, besides gazelle, deer, fallow deer and geese.

King Shlomo was not abusing the plethora of livestock. He needed this large amount of food to feed the members of his court plus the large amounts of foreign visitors that he hosted. According to Abarbanel, there was enough food on this list for King Shlomo to feed over 60,000 people.

The “fat of lambs” reminds us of the days of the Ten Tribes (Amos 6:4) when the wealthy did not believe that they would be destroyed along with the kingdom of Israel and therefore indulged themselves in every conceivable luxury:

…who lie on ivory couches, stretched out on their beds; eating the fattened sheep of the flock and calves from inside the stall.

According to Mahari Kara, they passed before the flocks of sheep and stalls of cattle to seek out only the choicest lambs and calves for their indulgence.

“Wine flavored blood of grapes will you drink” alludes to Amos 6:6:

…who drink wine out of bowls, anoint themselves with choicest oils and are not pained by the destruction of Yosef.

Radak explains that the polite thing to do is to drink wine out of small wine cups not guzzle wine out of large bowls.

We see from here that since the days of the TaNaCh, Israel had amazing produce and livestock. However, this prosperity should be appreciated and used in moderation. We must keep this in mind and not waste food, only put on our plates what we plan to eat and sip wine rather than guzzle it.

May we always see the blessings of Israel’s produce and may we never cease to appreciate them.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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