Masik! (Pt. 1)

    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.

October 2018

The kerem needed to be nurtured back to life with massive pruning, fertilizing and watering, which is just what he did.

October 2019

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):


mashgiach pointing to a chazir. The shoots closer to the trunk aren’t orlah

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.

Around 1/4 of the yield

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…

15 Replies to “Masik! (Pt. 1)”

  1. I wish we were there because we love hard work that accomplished something important!! We could have really really contributed and at the same time the trees could have made us healthier!!!
    I’m jealous. I want to be there!!!
    Got up at 5 AM and sprayed my 270 trees but still am roaring to go.
    Our trees and produce can keep us all young and as vigorous as the trees themselves.

  2. Wish we were there to help you. Lots of great work/exercise to keep your trees happy and healthy and Vice versa!!!

  3. Brachah V’ Hatzlacha!

    Beginnings are always important and you have done an incredible job to get to your first masik. May this be the first of many successful harvests and may we all be there, bamboo in hand, to help you very soon.

    Much love and respect,

    The Masins

  4. Wow! The farmer gene was definitely passed on to you. Hoping this is just the first Masik in a long life of many more to come.
    פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ ובהצלחה

  5. Any Masik is a gift of Hashem.
    May we see that a masik which is the result of your labor in Eretz Yisrael in the Medina of Yisrael is a foretelling of the ultimate “Masik”of Jewish Return, Ingathering, and Redemption.
    For a Shechiyanu.
    Michael Margulies

  6. Delightful to read abt the process of the Masik! And an incredible family effort!
    I recall years ago in the U.S. studying in high school מצוות התלויות בארץ (mitzvot dependent on the land of Israel) and thinking, “this has no relevancy whatsoever”. It’s always heart-warming and gratifying to realize we’re here in Eretz Yisrael and can fulfill these mitzvot here and now!

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