Shemen Zayit

21 Jun 2006

Olive Oil; one of the seven species with which the Land of Israel is blessed: “A Land of wheat, barley, grape, fig and pomegranate; a Land of olive-oil and date-honey” (Devarim 8:8)

Olive oil is the substance that, when used as a fuel, produces the clearest light. For that reason, it served as the fuel for the Menorah in the Mishkan, and is also the fuel that is most preferable for use in the Chanukah Menorah and, according to Rabbi Tarfon, it is the only oil suitable for the “Mitzvah” of “Hadlakat Nerot,” Lighting the Shabbat lamps.

It was one of the materials donated by the Jewish People for the Construction of the Mishkan in the Wilderness. Pure olive-oil [“shemen-zayit zach”] was used on a daily basis for the Menorah, tended by the “Kohen Gadol,” the High Priest, and for the anointment of the holy vessels that were used in the “Avodah,” the Service of HaShem, in the Mishkan. It was used as well to anoint the “Kohanim,” the Priests, as HaShem said to Moshe, “…You shall anoint them, inaugurate them and sanctify them, and they shall serve Me.” (Shemot 28:41)

It was also used to anoint the Kings of Israel, as we find in I Samuel (9:15-16), “Now HaShem had revealed to Shmuel a day before Shaul came, saying: “Tomorrow about this time, I will send you a man out of the Land of Binyamin and you shall anoint him as a prince over My People Israel…” And later, after Shaul had failed to fulfill the mission entrusted to him by HaShem to destroy Amalek, Shmuel was commanded to anoint David, as we find that HaShem says to him, “…Arise and anoint him, for this is the one.” (I Samuel 16:12) This was the beginning of the Davidic Dynasty, that will last until the Coming of the “Mashiach,” the descendant of David, when “Eliyahu HaNavi,” the Prophet Elijah, will be the one to anoint him. And the word “Mashiach,” referring to the Redeemer of Israel, means “the Anointed One.”