Parashat Ekev

The Seven Species

The seven species of the land of Israel have special medical and spiritual properties.

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Olives

Olive oil corresponds to yesod (foundation). Olive oil is the foundation of most Mediterranean foods. Maimonides explains that olive oil cleanses the liver and loosens stools. Drinking a teaspoon of olive oil every morning before eating can help prevent stones in the urinary tract. Olive oil protects against heart disease by lowering blood pressure, and has strong anti-bacterial properties. It also contains several antioxidants to help fight cancer. Thus olive oil can truly be called the foundation (yesod) of life.

Dates

Dates correspond to malchut (kingdom). Malchut is the channel that allows everything to manifest below. Therefore malchut is connected with the digestive system. The Talmud teaches that dates heal intestinal illnesses (Ketubot 10b).

The palm tree has no waste, its hearts are used for prayer (lulav), its fronds for shade, its fibers for ropes, its twigs for a sieve, and its beams for houses. Likewise the people of Israel have no waste: they each master their own particular part of Torah learning or perform mitzvot and charitable deeds (Genesis Rabbah, 41).

Perfecting the World

The Torah's mention of the seven species is not incidental. Rather, these foods are central to a Jewish spiritual path that endeavors to elevate the physical through intentional living. Eating the seven species in a conscious way can promote our well-being, help us connect to the land of Israel, and deepen our relationship with God. Each of the seven species contains deep lessons about God and our spiritual lives. Every time we eat them we have the opportunity to tune into their spiritual messages, eat consciously, and bring the world a step closer to its perfected state.

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Rebbetzin Chana B Siegelbaum

Chana Bracha Siegelbaum, a native of Denmark, is the founder and Director of Midreshet B'erot Bat Ayin.