Friday, June 25, 2010

More blooming in the desert!

On Tuesday we went down to Mitzpe Ramon for the inaugural planting of "Kerem Ramon" (Ramon Vinyard).  The weather was unusually hot and dry and the sands of the Sahara were relocating to the Negev. It was one of those middle-east chamsin days, so called because of the Egyptian folklore about there being 50 days like this a year. (Hat tip to עברית שפה קשה). Fortunately for us there are usually a lot fewer than 50 days like this in Israel. 
In this age of post-Zionism it was refreshing to be part of this expression of faith in this dream of a Jewish state. Planting is the ultimate expression of faith. It would seem to me that there can be no atheists in a vineyard. A farmer sows his seeds and from that moment until the harvest those seeds are affected by so many environmental factors that even our modern technological agribusiness wisdom is incapable of controlling all of them. No, it takes the planter and the massive help of God to bring those seedlings that we planted to maturity and fruition. (See David's comment below) So it was fitting that this ceremony was begun with words of Torah by Rabbi Tzvi Kostiner of Mitzpe Ramon's Yeshivat Midbara KaEden. The Yeshiva is at the heart of a vibrant young community of families who make their homes in Mitzpe Ramon. Most of the men were once students at the Yeshiva. 14 of those families joined together to form an agricultural cooperative and bought the land where we planted the vineyard. They plan to use half the profits earned from the vineyard to further educational and social projects in Mitzpe Ramon. In addition they hope to be able to employ Mitzpe residents at the vineyard and the winery which they hope they will be able to build to make wine from the grapes.
I am so proud of this amazing initiative and I add my prayers to theirs for the success of this endeavor. 
שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת
בְּשׁוּב יְהוָה, אֶת-שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן--    הָיִינוּ, כְּחֹלְמִים.
  אָז יִמָּלֵא שְׂחוֹק, פִּינוּ--    וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה
אָז, יֹאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם--    הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה, לַעֲשׂוֹת עִם-אֵלֶּה.
  הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה, לַעֲשׂוֹת עִמָּנוּ--    הָיִינוּ שְׂמֵחִים.
  שׁוּבָה יְהוָה, אֶת-שבותנו (שְׁבִיתֵנוּ)--    כַּאֲפִיקִים בַּנֶּגֶב.
  הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה--    בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ.
 הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ, וּבָכֹה--    נֹשֵׂא מֶשֶׁךְ-הַזָּרַע:
בֹּא-יָבֹא בְרִנָּה--    נֹשֵׂא, אֲלֻמֹּתָיו.

A song of ascents. When God brought back the exiles of Zion we were like dreamers!
Then our mouths filled with laughter and our tongues with joyful songs. 
Then it was said among the nation: 
"God has done great things for them!" 
God did do great things for us and we rejoiced. 
Return our exiles Lord, like rushing streams in the dry desert. 
May those who sowed in tears reap in joy. 
May one who goes out weeping, carrying a bag of seed return with songs of joy, carrying his sheaves!

1 comment:

David Tzohar said...

As former vintner I can attest to the great patience and faith it takes to plant a vineyard. according to Jewish law the fruit of the first 3 years is forbidden (orlah} You plant and irrigate, weed and wage the endless battles against pests and get your first usable harveest. Only then could we see if the grapes were worthy of making good wine. In Ramat ha Golan we planted thousands of vines and thank God we were able to establish the now reknowned Yarden winery, thought to be the best in the Middle East. We are proud that our children are following in our footsteps. We settled the Golan in the far north and they are settling the Negev in the south.

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