The 7 Species and Their Connection
Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Living in Israel is a very special experience. We've got good and bad just like anywhere else, but there is a magic here that is invisible, yet totally recognisable . This is the Jewish homeland where we lived during biblical times and more recently in present tense. The Jewish connection here is both figuratively and historically. Israel was and is called "the land" by the Jews living here . We live very close to the land, farm it and and respect and love it deeply. It's soil runs in our veins as does what we grow here. It was mentioned many times in the Bible what grew here during those times, and how and when we harvested it.
There are specific crops are called The Seven Species. And they have a very special meaning and spiritual depth for Jews. We have always been herders and farmers. A people with humble beginnings and who knew the importance of self reliance and economy.
God has given many clues, rites, traditions and laws throughout the Bible ,many of which revolve around plants and animals. We include them in our ceremonies, our holidays, and our everyday lives. Now that we have science to back up most of the folklore, we know that each of these plants contain many healing properties. Each fruit and herb has medicinal qualities , but because these were chosen as seven very specific plants, they are considered to be revered above all others in the land of Israel.
Each of these seven species have a special place when it comes to celebrating Israel and all it has to offer the Jews living here. In Biblical times we brought our first harvests of these fruits to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem on the Festival of Shavuot . It is believed that these fruits were also used as standards for measuring various sizes. Our sages say each fruit represents a trait which coincides with the seven characteristics of man .
History: Ripening barley was always a sign of spring, It was brought to the Temple as an offering of the first harvest on the Festival of Sukkoth. Barley was used as food for livestock.
Facts: Barley as a crop is dependent on rainfall, It can grow even in tough climates, such as the Negev desert where there is little rainfall. It has a hard tough shell that provides animals with fiber and exercise for their jaws.
History: The trees we connected to kings because of their crown like palms leaves. Date trees have always been used on Israeli coins . The Torah tells us to use the baby palm leaf as one of the four species in the Festival of Sukkoth blessings. Dates signify victory, peace and tranquility. Their fruits are highly nutritious and were able to sustain the Israelites traveling through the desert.
Facts: Although coconuts and date trees are both palm trees of the same family, you won't find the two growing on the same continent. India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc have coconut trees growing in abundance near their oceans , but Israel, Syria , Jordan and other Middle Eastern nations have date trees growing in their deserts. The coconut trees require salt water to grow coconuts and date trees require very little water to produce dates. Both are some of the most nourishing fruits available in their respective parts of the world. Palm tree leaves are also used to braid and make into roofs . Dates are harvested once a year at the time of Rosh Hashanna then kept all year to be eaten as a snack or a natural sweetener. We hang them in the Sukka as decoration and to remind us of the Israelites traveling through the desert and living in tents.