Sunday, March 18, 2007

Soaps go Native

The bag near my desk smells delicious, but it's nothing edible. (Well, only if I say a bad word).

I'm due to go to the States later this week, unless there's a public sector strike on Wednesday that will ground planes, which will upset me greatly since it's an important trip that people have planned for awhile. Looking for a unique gift to take I decided upon some soaps, introduced to me by my daughter and son-in-law last month as their birthday gift. (I'm 39. Again). They're made by a small company named noveya ( as a way of combining the natural properties of the Biblical 7 species of the Land of Israel with beauty and health products. So a box contains 7 soaps made of olives, pomegranates, dates, wheat, figs, grapes and barley. They look too nice to use but I will open mine any day now. Really.

Meanwhile I hope it will be a good gift for those who have pretty much everything. And not break in my luggage, either. I figured it was a way of introducing an understanding of how agrarian Judaism is, how tied to the land, this land where these grains and native fruits grow as they have for millenia and the part they played in the development of our rituals.

Last year I was reading 'Guns, Germs and Steel' by Jared Diamond about how and why certain civilizations succeeded and others failed. (Think Tutenkhamen for starters). Some were more susceptible to disease (smallpox, for example), others had weapons or technology before the rest. Knowledge tended to flow latitudinally , not longitudinally, a desert could really mess things up. And other very cool facts, like who made fatal mistakes so you'll read about Incas but not meet any. The book speaks at length about how wheat and barley were the significant grains in getting people to go from a nomadic, hunter lifestyle to a farmer role, settled in villages near fields. And the first 5 things harvested after these grains were--drumroll--pomegranates, olives, grapes, dates and figs. This area has had people since there were people, and our Torah highlights how Judaism's roots are here so deeply, you can see that by what grew and continues to grow here. (Israeli wines, olive oil and fruit still amaze.)

A few months ago some ancient emmer wheat seeds were discovered in the area of the South Chevron Hills, a type which need very little water to grow. There are now some very excited people in Israel hoping that they can germinate this type of wheat in arid regions such as in Africa to feed the many starving people there. So typical for Israeli Jews- to make an exciting discovery and then try to help others, too, from the knowledge gleaned.

After 4 days of rain, a clear, cold Judean evening.

1 comment:

YMedad said...

Have a nice trip and a successful one.