זַיִת רַעֲנָן יְפֵה פְרִי תֹאַר קָרָא ה’ שְׁמֵךְ
נקראו ישראל זית רענן — שהם מאירים לכל (שמות רבה ל״ו
God has named you as a leafy olive tree, gorgeous with beautiful fruit (Jeremiah 11:16).
Yisrael is called an olive tree because they light up the world (Shmot Rabbah 36)
Eretz Yisrael is dripping this week — not with rain, but with oil from a huge collective olive harvest. Presses work round the clock and it’s hard to get a free window to bring your yield, because everyone is doing their masik [olive harvesting and pressing] all during these few weeks. Farmers had held out as long as they could for a good rain to clear the dust off the olives, but nothin’ doin’, so we’re all hard-pressed (yes, pun intended) to rush these olives off the trees before they over-ripen.
Ira has been anticipating this week for many months. This time last year, we took a look at the kerem [olive grove] and decided a masik just wasn’t worth it — there weren’t enough olives on the neglected trees.
The kerem needed to be nurtured back to life with massive pruning, fertilizing and watering, which is just what he did.
What a difference a year (and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, including a tough round of awful Q-fever) can make! We’re now ready for the First Annual Weissman Family Farm Masik.
STEP 1: Have the mashgiach [rabbinic kashrut overseer] out to inspect the trees (a must so that the beit bahd [olive press] will agree to take your yield). Here the mashgiach is pointing out a problem — chazirim (shoots that are too far from the trunk to be considered part of the tree. Any fruit that might grow on chazirim would be orlah (fruit that grows on a tree during its first three halachic years, which is forbidden to eat), and therefore off limits for the masik):
The mashgiach will then make a couple of spot-checks during the masik to make sure that all is in order.
STEP 2: Line up your crew. Since we’ve never done this before, Ira sought out lots of advice from our experienced neighbors. A great group of bnot sherut organized through Hayogev are helping us with the harvest itself, plus he hired a contractor to load all of the olives into a huge “gondola” and transport that to the beit bahd.
STEP 3: Tell whichever kids are home that it’s harvest time (no school today, Little House on the Prairie style), and bake some pancakes for sustenance. But just this once, we’ll call them flapjacks, because it seems right under these circumstances:
STEP 4: Head out to the grove and get lost in the very simple pleasure of repetitive thrashing. You lay out a large mesh sheet under each tree, take bamboo rods and whack away. I preferred the pick-by-hand method which works nicely for the lower branches.
Tomorrow, 21/11/2019, we hope to be able to offer Masik! Part 2, wherein we do the nikuf (pulling from the tree) on the other half of the kerem, and bring the whole lot to the beit bahd. Stay tuned…