June 13, 1996
The holiday of Shavouth honors the anniversary of the giving of the Torah to Am Yisrael. However, in
the Torah, this holiday is not referred to as such; rather, it is referred to as the holiday of the first fruits.
Thousands of years ago Jews living in Eretz Yisrael would parade to Jerusalem, celebrating the renewed
growth of the first fruits of the year. Why should we, in the 20th century, continue to celebrate this
There are many kinds of fruits. There is fruit that grows on trees, fruit that nourishes our bodies.
However, there are other kinds of fruit. There is "the fruit of our stomach, ", i.e., our children, a part of
ourselves, our continuance. There is "the fruit of our labor" - the results of our doings, our work. There
is almost always something special about the "first" - be it the "firstborn" or the "first dollar" earned in the
a new business.
The first fruit of the Jewish People is the Patriarch Abraham. The first fruit in the Land of Israel
is the city of Hebron. Hebron, representing the roots of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel, has
nourished the spirit of the Am Yisrael throughout the centuries. But Hebron, the first capital of King
David, is not only the roots, it is also the fruit. For Hebron today, the Hebron of 50 Jewish families living
amidst 80,000 Arabs, is the result of the yearnings of generations.
One of the major landmarks in Hebron is the tomb of Ruth and Jessie at Tel Rumeda. Ruth, the
great-grandmother of David, King of Israel and grandmother to Jessie, David's father, also represents the
first fruit - the desire to be a part of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. On the holiday of Shavout Jews from
Hebron-Kiryat Arba gather at this ancient site, the original Hebron, and read Megilat Ruth, the story of
a young woman who realized the holiness of Israel and joined the People of Israel of her own free choice.
The result of her decision was the eternal Kingdom of David - "David Melech Yisrael - Chai v'kiam" -
David, King of Israel, lives through eternity. David began his reign in Hebron, where he absorbed the
strength and sanctity of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, preparing him to continue onward to Jerusalem,
the eternal capital of Israel.
Hebron today is a continuation of the original Hebron, marking the first settlement in Judea and
Samaria after the six-day war, and the springboard for the continued building and settlement in these
areas. Hebron still represents the first fruit - viewed as a pioneer, to be the first, to set the example. The
residents of the Jewish Community of Hebron, together with the citizens of Kiryat Arba are doing their
best to fulfill this mission, the roots of which are thousands of years old. We too, are the first fruits of the
return of Am Yisrael to Eretz Yisrael after 2,000 years of exile. We pray for the strength, both physical
and spiritual, to be worthy of this honor and responsibility. It is from Hebron that we will continue
forward to a united Jerusalem, forever.