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The Meaning of the Seven Species of the Land of Israel

Learn all about the Biblical Seven Species of the Land of Israel, including their deeper meaning and symbolism, and what role they play in Judaism today!

Tu BiShvat, the holiday celebrating the natural bounty of the Land of Israel, will begin at sundown on Wednesday, January 24 and last through Thursday, January 25 – so now’s the perfect time to brush up on the Biblical Seven Species that are indigenous to Israel! Learn what they are, their deeper meaning and symbolism, and what role they play in Judaism today.

You may have already heard that the pomegranate is one of the most popular Jewish symbols, found on jewelryJudaica, and art, and part of the explanation behind the fruit’s importance is that it is one of the Seven Species or Shivat Haminim as they are called in Hebrew.

The Seven Species are the foods that were found in ancient Israel and mentioned in the Torah in Deuteronomy: “A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olives which produce oil, dates which produce honey.”

 

Artwork by Israeli artist Bracha Lavee showing the Seven Species of the Holy Land: pomegranates, grapes, wheat, figs, olives, dates, and barley

 

During the times of the Temples, the first fruits of the Seven Species were considered holy and even brought as offerings during worship.

Today these foods are commonly eaten on the holidays of Tu BiShvat and Rosh Hashanah, and are used as decorative motifs on Judaica and Jewish home décor year-round.

Kabbalah takes a deeper look into the Seven Species and says that each one holds a different sefira or holy attribute, which we will explain below.

What Do Each of the Seven Species Symbolize?
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Wheat: Kindness

Wheat is a basic component of anyone’s diet as it gives one strength and energy, allowing one to go throughout their day. The same goes towards kindness, it gives one mental strength and allows the positive energy to flow, not only throughout your day, but through the people you give kindness to. Kindness and wheat alike both allow a person to keep going with their lives, physically as well as spiritually.

 

 

Barley: Strength

Barley is also commonly found in our everyday diet, but something you might not know about barley is how resilient it is. Barley seeds are enclosed in a strong hull, one that doesn’t even break during the threshing process and just like barley has a strong exterior, so should we. We should keep our soul, our “seed”, safe from exterior forces and stand strong when people come to knock us down. Barley is also known to absorb water unlike any other grain; some compare Torah to water, and so we should constantly continue to absorb Torah just like barley absorbs water.

 

Grapes: Beauty

Grapes make wine, which is incredibly important in Judaism as it is used for KiddushHavdalah, and to celebrate all kinds of special occasions in Judaism including holidays and weddings. We use wine to elevate our happiness and we should always acknowledge the beauty behind happiness and that which makes us happy.

 

 

Figs: Perseverance

Figs have one of the longest ripening periods and once one is ripe, a farmer must keep a lookout on the rest of the tree since all the figs begins to ripen almost all together and need to be picked immediately. Figs are great fresh or dried, making them one of the few fruits you can eat all year round because of how long they last. This can be compared to the longevity and perseverance in a person’s growing knowledge, and how the desire to learn never really stops.

 

Pomegranates: Splendor

When we pick a pomegranate up, we notice its crown at the top of the fruit and its precious gem-like seeds inside. A pomegranate is a fruit of splendor but also of humility. Its simple shell hides its beautiful seeds, relating to people that we should come with a humble shell and let someone into our precious personality and soul. Never judge a book by its cover!

Pomegranates are also often used in Jewish tradition to represent beauty, love, abundance, and the Jewish commandments.

Celebrate the pomegranate’s splendor with beautiful pomegranate-themed gifts from Israel!

 

 

Olives: Foundation

When saying olives, the Seven Species is actually referring to olive oil. Olive oil is at the basis of our cooking and olive trees are essentially the foundation of Israel. Throughout the country you can find olive trees growing, some of which are over 100 years old. Olives also represent peace and marked the end of the flood as told in the story of Noah. One lesson we can learn from olives is that we should take the bitter parts of life and turn them into something incredible, just as the bitter olive becomes a part of tasty dishes.

Shop delicious, pure olive oil from the Land of Israel!

 

 

Dates: Royalty

When we hear about how Israel is the "Land of Milk and Honey," many think that honey refers to bee honey when actually it refers to silan, date honey, which has been made in Israel for thousands of years. Dates are considered royalty because of their position of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life - they are the connecting piece between all the attributes. And in addition to growing delicious dates, palm trees are also significant in that their leaves are used during Sukkot as one of the Four Species.

Taste some all-natural, Israeli-made date honey for yourself!

 

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The Significance of the Seven Species
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Kabbalah says that each attribute from the Shivat Haminim is present in every soul, which makes these foods even more special. Eating them does not make you more holy but it does give a whole new meaning to these grains and fruits, which are probably some of the most important in Judaism.

Over harvest holidays like Sukkot and Shavuot, and Tu BiShvat, it is not unusual to find that the Seven Species are used to decorate the home and other Jewish spaces. They are also commonly associated with Rosh Hashanah, particularly pomegranates and dates.

 

Bring Biblical symbolism into your life with our beautiful Seven Species gifts and check out our top favorites – all lovingly crafted by talented Israeli artists!

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