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Seven FruitS oF iSrael Wheat ‫חיטה‬ Barley ‫שעורה‬ Grapes ‫ענבים‬ Figs ‫תאנים‬ Pomegranates ‫רימונים‬ Olive Oil ‫שמן זית‬ Dates ‫תמרים‬ “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” Deuteronomy 8:7–9

Shalom. One of the best parts of my role with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is getting to introduce friends like you to the beauty and wonders of the land of Israel. So it is a true joy and delight for me to share with you this book of recipes and devotions that I wrote from here in the Holy Land. Deuteronomy 8:8 says that Israel was “a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil, and [date] honey.” These seven foods—two grains and five fruits—are known in Jewish teaching as the seven fruits (Hebrew: Shiv’at HaMinim), which are mentioned as being special products of the Holy Land. For thousands of years, even in exile, the seven fruits have played an important role in the diet of the Jewish people and in the religious traditions of Judaism. God made a promise to Israel that when they returned to the land, the desert would bloom (Isaiah 35:1). I see this every day. Often when I pick a fruit to eat, I recite a blessing over it and reflect on how blessed I am to be eating the fruits of Israel—something my ancestors could only dream about through 2,000 years of exile! The seven fruits are traditionally eaten on Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish “New Year for Trees;” on Sukkot, the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths; and on Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks. In halakha (Jewish law), the seven fruits are considered more special than other fruits. As you will learn in this booklet, each one of the Seven fruits of Israel represent a unique attribute of God and deserves a special berakhah (blessing) to be recited over them. I hope this brief background on the history and spiritual significance of the seven fruits will make this booklet useful as a cookbook and as a starting point for spiritual reflection. Thank you for your interest in the land and the people of Israel—the land and people of the Bible! With blessings from the Holy Land,

Yael Eckstein Senior Vice-President International Fellowship of Christians and Jews 3

God’s Unfailing Love for Israel “He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.” Psalm 147:14

The first of the seven fruits of the land listed in Deuteronomy 8:8 is wheat (Hebrew: chitah). Wheat was an important crop in ancient Israel, and today it is still one of the staples of the Jewish diet. The Negev area, where most of our wheat crops are grown, is known as the “breadbasket” of Israel. In Psalm 147, God promises His gracious provision in the supply of the “finest of wheat,” a promise that speaks to His goodness and loving care for us. In this verse He assures us of the abundance He will provide and the safety He alone brings through peace. This promise is so comforting to us here in Israel, where the threats of terrorism and war are always present. When you jump ahead in Psalm 147 to verse 11, you find a reference to God’s “unfailing love” which in Hebrew is called chesed. In Jewish teaching, chesed is the godly attribute that corresponds to wheat. The way to practice chesed is to reach out and give as an expression of kindness to others. Wheat is also an important part of the celebration of Shavuot, the Jewish harvest festival. The Israelites were first commanded to observe this holy day in the Torah (the Bible), as described in Leviticus 23:15–22. Even today in modern Israel, just before the harvest begins at Shavuot, the wheat turns a glorious golden color, a beautiful sight that reminds me of Ecclesiastes 2:24: “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.” Wheat is a picture of God’s eternal love for His children. Food for Thought: We must put thanksgiving and intention back into the simple things in life. Take a moment to think about the wheat, fruit, vegetables, water, and other provision that God graciously gives through His creation of nature. With everything being so complex in this age of technology, and everyone scrambling for the next new gadget, don’t disconnect from the natural riches God gives us daily through His glorious creation. May we find happiness and satisfaction in small, simple acts, and in His faithful provision. Amen. 4

A Promise of Provision “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow’—when you have it with you today.” Proverbs 3:27–28 Like wheat, barley (Hebrew: se’orah) is a grain that has been harvested in Israel for centuries, mainly during the festival of Shavuot. In biblical times, barley was considered the food of poor people, often used in porridge or as a cake. Because it was cheaper than wheat, barley was also used to feed cattle and other livestock. In Jewish teaching, barley is related to the godly attribute of gevura, or restraint. It brings to mind the idea of boundaries. For example, each barley seed is enclosed in a strong hull, a kind of boundary that remains intact even during threshing. Barley figures prominently in the Bible’s most beautiful love story: Ruth and Boaz. Ruth, a woman from Moab, returned to Bethlehem with her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi, after both of their husbands died. Since both were widows and had no one to provide for their needs, Ruth served on the threshing floor of Naomi’s relative Boaz during the barley harvest. Boaz filled Ruth’s cloak with barley, which not only helped feed her and Naomi, who were impoverished, but showed his determination to fulfill his obligation to marry Ruth. This union ultimately produced King David! Boaz’s actions are the very essence of the command in Proverbs 3 to help the poor. What a great example for us to follow! Food for Thought: The biblical story of Ruth and Boaz reminds us that regardless of whether we are rich or poor, we all have something special to give the world. Each of us has been provided with the tools needed to bless others. For some people these gifts are financial. For others, it may be a prayer and a kind word to share with others. What tools do you possess? How will you use them to enrich others? It is our sacred responsibility and privilege to share what God has given us in order to bless others. 5

A Blessing of Peace and Security “When they reached the valley of Eschol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.” Numbers 13:23

Grapes (Hebrew: gefen) are among the oldest produce cultivated in Israel. In the famous description of the huge grape cluster brought back to the camp of Israel by the twelve spies (Numbers 13), the land of Israel is shown as an ideal climate for grape growing. Vines and vineyards are used in Scripture as symbols of prosperity and blessing. The beautiful messianic blessing of peace and security is spoken of as a time when, “Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken” (Micah 4:4). To date in Israel, grapes are used mainly for the production of wine, although we also eat them fresh and dried. Wine has always been an integral part of the rituals of Judaism. On the sabbath and on Holy Days, we begin the meal by reciting a special blessing. Only then does the meal begin. Grapes are a wonderful example of the harmony in nature. The rain falls and enables plants, vegetables, and fruits to grow, which feed the animals and sustain us. Nature functions on a giving cycle, where each system takes what it needs and gives away the rest to provide sustenance to others. It’s a beautiful example that God calls us time and again to follow. Food for Thought: Take a moment to recognize what a journey the water in our glass and food on our plate has taken. Let this simple thought inspire giving, joy, and simplicity in your life. We have the same ability to provide life and sustenance to others through sharing an encouraging word, a kind smile, or a nurturing meal. Find a simple way to give someone else life! 6

Wisdom and Long Life “During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree.” 1 Kings 4:25

This verse in 1 Kings shows us that the blossoming fig tree was a symbol of prosperity in Israel. Today, dried figs are an expensive delicacy in the Holy Land, yet still a favorite treat to pick fresh from the tree and enjoy. Figs trees are cultivated throughout the Holy Land, and their rich fruit ripens in midsummer. A fig tree produces masses of large green leaves and provides ample welcome shade during Israel’s hot months. This is why fig trees were often planted next to wells; the thick dark shade kept the water cool. In Jewish teaching, figs (Hebrew: te’enah) show us the godly attribute, netzach (eternal), which symbolizes longevity. The fig tree represents longevity because it has one of the longest periods of ripening—more than three months. The great nineteenth-century Jewish rabbi and scholar known as Malbim explained that we need to watch the fig tree very carefully, and pick its figs daily, since they ripen in rapid succession. In the same way, we need to observe our teachers daily in order to glean the fruits of their wisdom over time. Food for Thought: Success today is too often judged by financial worth. By contrast, the image of resting under a fig tree suggests that the simple pleasures of life are truly priceless. When we redefine the meaning of success in terms of joy, we are more free to experience peace in our hearts and the happiness that accompanies our every step. Choose a life based on your passions and joys and surround yourself with people who accentuate and complement your strengths.


Majesty, Glory, and Thankfulness “Make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them.” Exodus 28:33

It is clear from the Bible that the pomegranate (Hebrew: rimon) had a significance in ancient Israel beyond its nutritional value as a fruit. We find about 30 references to pomegranates in Scripture, including the reference to the adornment around the hem of the high priest’s robe (Exodus 28:33). Jewish tradition says that a pomegranate has 613 seeds to represent the 613 commandments in the Torah. In biblical times, the pomegranate was used for making wine and seasonings, in addition to its function as a dye. Today in Israel, the pomegranate is traditionally eaten on the Jewish New Year but are also used to flavor foods and as a topping for salads. The pomegranate is a very beautiful and majestic fruit, and it even boasts what appears to be a crown. It corresponds to the godly attribute, hod, which means majesty and glory. Hod is also related to the Hebrew word toda, which means thanks and recognition. Pomegranate trees are a common sight in the gardens of Israel. The tree bears scarlet, yellow, or white flowers, and has rich green leaves heavy with fruit that ripens during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The plump red fruits are also often used to decorate the temporary structures in which we dwell during Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. Food for Thought: When I think of pomegranates as part as the high priest’s clothing, I’m reminded of Job 29:14, where the patriarch said, “I put on righteousness as my clothing.” We decide which values to possess, and we wear those values as our garments. They are the expressions we use to reveal our inner thoughts and world view. With that in mind, take a moment to look at your actions and thoughts and decide if these are the garments you want the world to know you by. Let your beautiful values shine to the world like a priestly garment that gathers everyone’s attention and admiration. 8

Peace and Prosperity “I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God.” Psalm 52:8

Perhaps more significant than any other of the seven fruits, the olive (Hebrew: zayit) is a symbol of prosperity and longevity in Israel. Olive trees can grow where there is not much rain or soil; in fact, they can grow where no other trees can. They will also produce heavy crops with even a minimum amount of care. In Jewish teaching, olives correspond to the godly attribute of yesod (foundation). Olive oil is the foundation of foods in the Middle East and entire Mediterranean region. Today, olive oil is still one of the main ingredients in Israeli cuisine. Olives were one of the blessings of the Promised Land that God gave to His people through His covenant with Abraham. It had a religious use as the anointing oil for priests, and was also used in sacrificial offerings and as fuel for the lamps in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple at Jerusalem. The wood of the olive tree was also used to make the doors and posts of the Temple, as well as for the carving of the cherubim. From this we see that the bark of the tree is as precious as the olives themselves. Food for Thought: In Psalm 133, olive oil is used as a symbol of this important truth: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (v. 1). We are told that this unity is “like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard” (v. 2), referring to the anointing of Aaron as the high priest. Respect and honor are universal principles of the God-centered home. We must learn to understand, respect, and grow from everyone. Once we realize that each person on this earth has a spark of the divine, we can appreciate our differences.


A Land of Blessing “The Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and [date] honey and all that the fields produced.” 2 Chronicles 31:5 Dates (Hebrew: tamar or d’vash) are only mentioned by name a couple of times in the Bible. But the palm trees mentioned are surely date palms, so the presence is more than initially meets the eye. Dates correspond to the godly attribute of malchut (royalty). In biblical times, dates grew in the Jordan Valley. But modern irrigation has enabled date palm trees to take root near the Dead Sea and further south in the Arabah, or desert. The dates hang from the leaves in large clusters and can be dried for a delicious treat. Dried dates would have been useful to carry on the long travels of caravans in the ancient world. The word “dates” does not appear in Deuteronomy 8:8 in the listing of the seven fruits. Instead, the word used is d’vash, which translates literally to “honey.” In ancient times, palm dates were often made into a form of honey by mashing the dates and cooking them with water until they thickened into syrup. In Israel today, many people make date honey, which is called Silan. It is generally thought that when the Torah mentions “honey” it is talking about palm date honey rather than traditional honey. The reference to Israel as a “land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8) also likely refers to date honey. Food for Thought: In Proverbs 15:17 we read, “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.” The wisdom conveyed in this verse is an ideal way to complete our study of the seven fruits of Israel. The outcome of our toil is based on our intentions. If we are content within ourselves and our surroundings, joy and tranquility will follow us through all the journeys of our life. When we toil with positive thinking, love, and an open heart, there is no such thing as failure. 10

Wheat (‫)חיטה‬

Chocolate Breakfast Muffins 2 cups whole wheat flour 2 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons cocoa powder ¼ cup chocolate chips 1 egg, beaten ¼ cup oil ½ cup honey 1½ cups soy milk (or milk)

Combine dry ingredients and mix in separate bowl combine wet ingredients. Fold the wet and dry ingredients together until flour is moistened. Spoon into greased muffin tins, then bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Makes around 12.

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! Pomegranate (‫)רימונים‬

Pomegranate Salad 1 (10 ounce) package mixed baby greens or fresh spinach 1 pomegranate, peeled and seeds separated 1 (8 ounce) package crumbled feta cheese 1 small cucumber, chopped chopped scallions or red onion (optional) Dressing: ¼ cup mayonnaise 2 tablespoons mustard 1½ tablespoons honey ½ tablespoon lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste

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Dates (‫)תמרים‬

Date Honey Chicken 2 cut onions 3 chicken legs and thighs (or light meat if you prefer) 3 /4 cup date honey 2½ tablespoons soy sauce ¼ cup canola oil 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed salt to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. On the bottom of a baking tin, place the cut onions, then lay the chicken out on top of it. In a bowl, mix the date honey, oil, soy sauce, salt, and garlic. Pour sauce over the chicken coating the chicken with the sauce. Bake for 45 min.–1 hour. Spoon some sauce from the bottom of pan over the chicken every 20 minutes.


D ­­ D Olive Oil (‫)שמן זית‬

Olive Dip 2 (16 ounce) cans green olives, pitted 2 garlic cloves 1 /3 cup olive oil ¼ tablespoon thyme Drain the cans of olives, put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Enjoy with cut up vegetable sticks, pita chips, or as a spread on bread.

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Creamy Tahina Salad/Rice Dressing

Honey (‫)דבש‬

½ cup olive oil 3 tablespoons soy sauce ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil 1 tablespoon honey ¼–½ tablespoon salt dash of pepper ½ teaspoon garlic powder 1 tablespoon of tahini Combine all ingredients, mix well, and pour over salad or rice—this dressing tastes good with everything!

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! Grapes (‫)ענבים‬

Fruit Salad 1 apple 1 bundle of grapes (without seeds) 1 pear 1 orange 5 figs 5 dates 1 cup of pomegranate seeds ½ teaspoon of cinnamon Chop all of the fruits, put together in a big bowl, top with cinnamon.

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Coconut Milk Cream of Barley Soup

Barley (‫)שעורה‬

1 cup pearl barley, rinsed thoroughly 1 onion, chopped 1 carrot, sliced 2 celery ribs, sliced 2 bay leaves 4 sprigs fresh parsley 1 tablespoon chicken soup powder salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 cup coconut milk/cream 1 tablespoon canola oil 5 cups of water Sauté vegetables in oil for 5 minutes, stir occasionally. Combine all ingredients except the coconut cream in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered until the barley is tender, 1 to 1½ hours. Add the coconut cream and heat.


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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews promotes understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians and builds broad support for Israel and other shared biblical concerns. Together in true solidarity, The Fellowship’s programs bring blessing and help to hundreds of thousands of needy people around the world.


The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews blesses Israel and her people through these four core outreach programs:

Helping bring hundreds of thousands of needy Jews to the Holy Land and building new lives for them in Israel.

Guardians of Israel 速

Delivering food, clothing, medicines, and other lifesaving care to elderly Jews, orphans, and street children in the lands of the former Soviet Union and other countries where they are in distress.

Assisting families in Israel to cope with poverty and assisting with much-needed security against Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorists.

Mobilizing churches, Christian leaders, and grass-roots individuals in the United States and around the world to stand with Israel through prayer and public advocacy.


The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews was founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. His goal then, as it is now, was to promote greater understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians and to build a broader base of support for both Israel and shared biblical concerns. Resting upon this foundation, The Fellowship has been instrumental in fostering better relations between these two faith communities and providing new avenues of support for Israel and Jewish people who are in need around the world.

30 NORTH LASALLE STREET SUITE 4300 CHICAGO, IL 60602-3356 800-486-8844 • INFO@IFCJ.ORG • IFCJ.ORG ©2012 16


7 Fruits of Israel: Recipes and Devotions from the Holy Land  
7 Fruits of Israel: Recipes and Devotions from the Holy Land  

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