In describing the extraordinary beauty and uniqueness of the Land of Israel, Scripture tells us, “For the L‑rd your G‑d is bringing you to a good land, a land with brooks of water . . . a land of wheat and barley, [grape] vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil-producing olives and honey [from dates] . . .”1

This isn’t just a flowery verse. These seven species are specifically connected to the Land of Israel, and in fact there is a mitzvah to bring the first of these fruits to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. (For more on this special mitzvah, see All About Bikkurim.) And there is a special after-blessing for when one snacks on one of these fruits.2

Israel produces many other fruits (Jaffa oranges, anyone?). What is so significant about these seven species?

The commentaries offer several explanations. On a basic level, these fruits are unique in that they provide the necessary nutrients for sustenance.3 Some commentaries add that the Land of Israel is the only place where all these very diverse species naturally grow in close proximity.4

The Seven Attributes

The Kabbalists explain that there is a much deeper significance to these fruits. Each corresponds to one of the seven sefirot (Divine emotive attributes):5

  • Wheat: Chesed—Kindness
  • Barley: Gevurah—Severity
  • Grapes: Tiferet—Harmony
  • Figs: Netzach—Perseverance
  • Pomegranates: Hod—Humility
  • Olives: Yesod—Foundation
  • Dates: MalchutRoyalty

Every soul possesses all seven of these sefirot. But for each person, one of these traits is most dominant, shaping the individual soul’s unique path to G‑d. Thus, these seven fruits correspond to our serving G‑d with our personal attributes, as well as with all seven general modes of Divine service.

For more on how each fruit corresponds to a specific attribute, see The Seven Species and Seven Attributes.

Blessings to All Vegetation

The mystics explain that just as the Divine blessings for the entire world flow via the Land of Israel, so too the Divine energy and blessings for all growing things flow via these seven special species of fruit that the land of Israel is blessed with.6

Pleasure From the Get-Go

The Lubavitcher Rebbe gives a deep insight into the seven species and their relation to the New Year for Trees on 15 Shevat:

In general, the seven species can be split into two types: 1) grain; and 2) fruit from trees. Grain is necessary for sustenance. Fruits, on the other hand, are not necessary, but they add pleasure to life. Both are important, and therefore both are included in the blessing for the land of Israel.

In a spiritual sense, the “Israel” of our soul also contains these two elements, necessity and pleasure. On the 15th of Shevat, the New Year for Trees, we customarily eat from all seven species, but we celebrate the five fruits that grow on trees (pleasure) even more than the grains (necessity).

The lesson for us is that even when a person is in the early stages of spiritual growth (i.e., the level of trees and all growing things), he must already have the goal of serving G‑d “with all [his] might,” which includes the all-encompassing attributes of desire and pleasure. For a Jew’s service of G‑d cannot be purely mechanical or intellectual. Only when one’s service of G‑d is truly pleasurable can it be truly complete.

The New Year for Trees teaches us that, from the start, we must set out to serve G‑d with all seven Divine attributes. Every morning as we start our day, we must resolve to serve G‑d not just out of rote and necessity, but with pleasure—giving it all we got.7