אֶ֤רֶץ חִטָּה֙ וּשְׂעֹרָ֔ה וְגֶ֥פֶן וּתְאֵנָ֖ה וְרִמּ֑וֹן אֶֽרֶץ־זֵ֥ית שֶׁ֖מֶן וּדְבָֽשׁ...דברים ח
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
A land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey…
The Seven Species of Israel.
The seven products through which the land of Israel is distinguished.
This commission on a discarded wooden headboard came with a proper challenge:
Create a colorful, lively, ancient and modern take on the landscape of Israel featuring the Shiv’at Haminim.
The need for an accurate geographical depiction was quickly eliminated.
The overall feel would beckon rolling hills and pastoral views.
It would include sea views with sailing boats, dramatic cloud formations, flowering orange groves, and almond blossoms emerging just in time for Tu B’shvat.
As the concept evolved, images emerged: It could be sunrise, sunset or dusk. Cars in motion symbolizing the daily hustle and bustle (seger or no seger)move in all directions. The windy road hugging the side of central image leads up the hills and through the arch of Jerusalem, our eternal capital, and City of Gold.
The central city which emerged in the distance, pocked with cranes and construction,
represents Raanana, home to the commissioning family. In fact, their apartment building is hinted at on the far left, and the view from their balcony inspired many of these scenes.
The poppies, kalaniyot, represent the southern Israel festival called Darom Adom. The bold red and carefree floral shapes herald rebirth, the spring of a new season with all the hope and promise it brings.
The north is heartily represented by the holy city of Tzfat (aglow with the light of the Zohar), the waterfall and spring, the cyclamen (rakafot) and the brimming Kinneret in the impossibly breathtaking blue.
All of this surrounds the main theme, the Seven Species, depicted in order:
Wheat: The yellow field in harvest. The fresh artisan breads whose smell wafts through the air daily starting before dawn and continuing through the night
Barley: the stalk that represents the hearty and healthy grain that sustains us
Grapes: as represented by the sampling of many prolific and world-renowned Israeli wineries
Figs: lush and sweet
Pomegranate: beacon of a new year whose wish and inspiration propels us to look back and remember the High Priest’s garb, even as we look forward and aim for too many good deeds to count
Olives: The tree on the right with the oversized, mature fruit whimsically portrayed. Whether they are grown systematically on terraces, or individually in gardens throughout the country, the olive’s oil nourishes us, heals us and lights our way on Shabbat and Chanukah
(Date) Honey: Its trees tower above us and withstand harsh elements. Its fruit sweetens our lives and gives hope that we shall overcome anyone who seeks our harm
Accompanying these 7 species on the marble block are the classic images of cheese and a jar of honey. This reminds us that our promised land “flows with milk and honey”.
It is special and it is ours. It nurtures and sustains us. It completes us, and we in turn, cherish and protect it.