Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Olives to Forget, Olive Oil to Remember

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

It is written, “A land of wheat, barley, grape, fig, and pomegranate; a land of olive oil and date-honey” [Devarim 8:8].

This is surprising. For the first five products on this list, it is the fruit itself (wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranate) that is mentioned, but for the olive the verse mentions only what is derived from it, namely olive oil. Why?

The Maharsha cites a statement from the Gemara: “Our Rabbis taught: Five things make one forget one’s learning:

Eating something from which a mouse or cat has eaten, eating the heart of a beast, frequent consumption of olives, drinking the remains of water that was used for washing, and washing one’s feet one above the other. Others say: He who also puts his clothes under his head.

Five things restore one’s learning: Wheat bread, and especially wheat itself, eating a roasted egg without salt, frequent consumption of olive oil, frequent indulgence in wine and spices, and the drinking of water that has remained from kneading. Others say that dipping one’s finger in salt and eating is also included.

‘Frequent consumption of olive-oil’ – this supports the view of Rabbi Yochanan, who said: ‘As the olive causes one to forget 70 years ears of learning, olive oil restores 70 years of learning’ ” [Horayot 13b].


Devorah said...

I can already predict that someone will leave a comment and say that olives contain olive oil, so what is the problem? I guess that the process of extracting the oil from the olive has some spiritual connotations that we don't understand. I remember that when my sister a''h used to serve olives to guests, she would pour a very small amount of olive oil over the olives, to counteract the ''forgetting''.

Neshama said...

I use only xvirgin olive oil (yum) and coconut oil in food preparation. Yes, it's important to only eat olives that are in olive oil.