This week is the week we start to say goodbye to summer fruit. Alas, all the yummy blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and plums have already begun to make the way out of the super market aisles. But, not to worry, apple and pear season is closely approaching. In ancient Israel fruits like the pomegranate, date, and fig were central delicacies the people would look forward to all year round. They put images them in the decorations of the High Priest’s garments, named towns and cities after them, and even composed love poetry with fruit as the central theme.
It is no wonder that sanctifying fruit is one of the first duties the people have when they enter the land of Israel. Here at the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, we are given the command to bring the first fruits and offer them to the High Priest. One can imagine the reluctance of our ancestors to part with the crown jewels of agriculture, but also the need to celebrate the sweetness of God’s earth. Fruit, unlike vegetables, was available for the picking along the way, providing a splash of color on the mostly dry landscape of the Middle East. Is there anything more joyful than finding a loose raspberry or blackberry on a trail, or a newly formed apple falling from a tree? So, even as I indulge myself on the last of our summer fruit, I cannot wait to start breaking open the apples and pomegranates of High Holy Day season.