Honey and Milk inside the Tefillin – Perashat Bo

Appreciate The Abundance of Milk and Honey.

When we put on Tefillin we can meditate on appreciating that G-d gave us a blessed land that is flowing with Milk and Honey.

The first of the four Perashiot of Tefilin in Perashat Bo says:

And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which He swore unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. (Shmot 13-5)

שמות פרק יג
וְהָיָ֣ה כִֽי־יְבִֽיאֲךָ֣ יְקֹוָ֡ק אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ הַֽ֠כְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּ֨י וְהָאֱמֹרִ֜י וְהַחִוִּ֣י וְהַיְבוּסִ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֤ע לַאֲבֹתֶ֙יךָ֙ לָ֣תֶת לָ֔ךְ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָ֑שׁ וְעָבַדְתָּ֛ אֶת־הָעֲבֹדָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את בַּחֹ֥דֶשׁ הַזֶּֽה:

Land Flowing with Milk and Honey
From the Parchments placed into Tefillin

Both words milk and honey instill positive connotations to virtually every human being. Their presence in the land demonstrates a good economy. This goes so far that honey is actually the word used to describe any “sweet” concept. Milk and milk products are universally rich and fatty substances.

In the Torah the word honey generally refers to date honey. However, several uses of the word honey refer to bee’s honey as well as others that refer to any honey like substance that easily exudes from fruit.

Riesh Lakish was an Emora during the Talmudic period. He says that he saw a lamb grazing under a fig tree dripping with honey. The lamb itself was dripping its milk onto the honey. He said that this represented the land flowing with milk and honey. (Ketubot 111b)

Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory have additionally said that the fruit of Israel are fatty like milk and sweet like honey. (Ketubot 112a)

It seems that the term honey is in reality a difficult word to specifically understand. Above we saw that Reish Lakish leaves the term honey open ended by referring to fig “honey” while discussing the phrase, “A land flowing with milk and honey.” However, what the words milk and honey include seems to be a disagreement of Tanaim of the Mishnaic period.

Silan - Date Honey
Silan – Date Honey

Rabbi Eliezer gives a Vegan friendly explanation for Milk and Honey. According to Rabi Eliezer milk in “Milk and Honey” means that the milk of the fruits is very rich and that the honey refers only to Date Honey. However, Rabi Akiva disagrees and says that milk refers to real milk and that honey refers to “Yearot Dvash ” “Yearot Honey .“ (Mechilta Derashb”i)

Honey Comb From Israel
Honey Comb From Israel

There is further disagreement between Rashi and his school of thought and Radak as to what “Yearot Dvash” means. According to Rashi it means canes with honey in them that grow in Israel. It seems possible that Rashi refers to cane sugar or perhaps another sweet cane. However, Rada”k questions Rashi’s source material and then says that “Yearot Dvash” refers to ordinary bee’s honey combs. (Shmuel 1 14 25)

In Parashat Ki Tisa The Holy one Blessed be He stated that he would not himself lead the people of Israel into the Holy land instead an Angel will do this. “A land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go in your midst, since you are a stiffnecked people, lest I destroy you on the way.” (Shemot 33 3)

On this Pasuk Seforno points out that the Jewish people need a land that is naturally rich. They are a stiff-necked people. They will not be successful living in a place like the desert where they need constant miracles to survive.

Wholesome Milk
Wholesome Milk

Dairy products are central to many Jewish customs. On Shavuot we eat dairy. Many say that this is because the Jewish people did not have time to learn the laws of Shchita (ritual slaughtering) and Kashrut laws. Therefore, they ate dairy.

Honey has left a great impact on the Jewish people. Although a tiny portion of the worlds population is Jewish we consume 20% of the world’s honey. This was pointed out to me by a site that sells honey. The most famous of these sweet customs is on Rosh Hashana when almost every Jew in the world dips an apple in honey.

So when we put on Tefilin we can meditate on appreciating that G-d gave us such a blessed land.

Here is a little more source material copied from elsewhere.

ספרי דברים פרשת עקב פיסקא מג
(יז) אם עשיתם כן וחרה אף ה’ בכם, משל למלך ששגר את בנו לבית המשתה והיה יושב ומפקדו ואומר לו בני אל תאכל יותר מצרכך אל תשתה יותר מצרכך כדי שתבוא נקי לביתך לא השגיח הבן ההוא אכל יותר מצרכו ושתה יותר מצרכו והקיא וטנף את בני מסיבה נטלוהו בידיו וברגליו וזרקוהו לאחר פלטורין, כך אמר להם הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל הכנסתי אתכם אל ארץ טובה ורחבה לארץ זבת חלב ודבש לאכל מפריה ולשבוע מטובה ולברך שמי עליה לא הייתם בטובה היו בפורענות וחרה אף ה’ בכם.

If you behave in this way—

“Then HASHEM’s fierce anger will flare up against you” (Dt.11:17).

There is an analogy—

A king sent his son to represent him at a wedding feast.

Before hand, the king sat and instructed him, saying:

My son!

Don’t eat more than you need to,

and don’t drink more than you need to,

so that you may return home spotless.

That son paid no attention.

He ate more than he needed to,

and drank more than he needed to.

Then he vomited and soiled the party guests.

They took him by his hands and feet

and threw him behind the palace.

Thus said the Blessed Holy One to the children of Israel:

I have brought you into a good and broad Land,

to a Land dripping with milk and honey,

to eat of its fruit, to be satisfied with its bounty,

and to bless My Name over it.

You were oblivious to the bounty,

but may notice the retribution!

“Then HASHEM’s fierce anger will flare up against you” (Dt.11:17).

Pisqa’ 43

ספרי דברים פרשת כי תבוא פיסקא שא
ארץ זבת חלב ודבש, נאמר כאן ארץ זבת חלב ודבש ונאמר להלן +שמות יג ה+ ארץ זבת חלב ודבש מה ארץ זבת חלב ודבש האמורה להלן חמשת עממים אף ארץ זבת חלב ודבש האמור כאן ארץ חמשת עממים. רבי יוסי הגלילי אומר אין מביאים בכורים מעבר לירדן שאינו זבת חלב ודבש. 

The story of Samson killing the Lion, then bees made their hive Lion in and his riddle – allegory that he asked at his Wedding.

שופטים פרק יד
וַיֵּ֧רֶד שִׁמְשׁ֛וֹן וְאָבִ֥יו וְאִמּ֖וֹ תִּמְנָ֑תָה וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ עַד־כַּרְמֵ֣י תִמְנָ֔תָה וְהִנֵּה֙ כְּפִ֣יר אֲרָי֔וֹת שֹׁאֵ֖ג לִקְרָאתֽוֹ:
(ו) וַתִּצְלַ֨ח עָלָ֜יו ר֣וּחַ יְקֹוָ֗ק וַֽיְשַׁסְּעֵ֙הוּ֙ כְּשַׁסַּ֣ע הַגְּדִ֔י וּמְא֖וּמָה אֵ֣ין בְּיָד֑וֹ וְלֹ֤א הִגִּיד֙ לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֔וֹ אֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה:
(ז) וַיֵּ֖רֶד וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר לָאִשָּׁ֑ה וַתִּישַׁ֖ר בְּעֵינֵ֥י שִׁמְשֽׁוֹן:
(ח) וַיָּ֤שָׁב מִיָּמִים֙ לְקַחְתָּ֔הּ וַיָּ֣סַר לִרְא֔וֹת אֵ֖ת מַפֶּ֣לֶת הָאַרְיֵ֑ה וְהִנֵּ֨ה עֲדַ֧ת דְּבוֹרִ֛ים בִּגְוִיַּ֥ת הָאַרְיֵ֖ה וּדְבָֽשׁ:
(ט) וַיִּרְדֵּ֣הוּ אֶל־כַּפָּ֗יו וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ הָלוֹךְ֙ וְאָכֹ֔ל וַיֵּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֶל־אָבִ֣יו וְאֶל־אִמּ֔וֹ וַיִּתֵּ֥ן לָהֶ֖ם וַיֹּאכֵ֑לוּ וְלֹֽא־הִגִּ֣יד לָהֶ֔ם כִּ֛י מִגְּוִיַּ֥ת הָאַרְיֵ֖ה רָדָ֥ה הַדְּבָֽשׁ:
(י) וַיֵּ֥רֶד אָבִ֖יהוּ אֶל־הָאִשָּׁ֑ה וַיַּ֨עַשׂ שָׁ֤ם שִׁמְשׁוֹן֙ מִשְׁתֶּ֔ה כִּ֛י כֵּ֥ן יַעֲשׂ֖וּ הַבַּחוּרִֽים:
(יא) וַיְהִ֖י כִּרְאוֹתָ֣ם אוֹת֑וֹ וַיִּקְחוּ֙ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים מֵֽרֵעִ֔ים וַיִּהְי֖וּ אִתּֽוֹ:
(יב) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָהֶם֙ שִׁמְשׁ֔וֹן אָחֽוּדָה־נָּ֥א לָכֶ֖ם חִידָ֑ה אִם־הַגֵּ֣ד תַּגִּידוּ֩ אוֹתָ֨הּ לִ֜י שִׁבְעַ֨ת יְמֵ֤י הַמִּשְׁתֶּה֙ וּמְצָאתֶ֔ם וְנָתַתִּ֤י לָכֶם֙ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים סְדִינִ֔ים וּשְׁלֹשִׁ֖ים חֲלִפֹ֥ת בְּגָדִֽים:
(יג) וְאִם־לֹ֣א תוּכְלוּ֘ לְהַגִּ֣יד לִי֒ וּנְתַתֶּ֨ם אַתֶּ֥ם לִי֙ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים סְדִינִ֔ים וּשְׁלֹשִׁ֖ים חֲלִיפ֣וֹת בְּגָדִ֑ים וַיֹּ֣אמְרוּ ל֔וֹ ח֥וּדָה חִידָתְךָ֖ וְנִשְׁמָעֶֽנָּה:
(יד) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָהֶ֗ם מֵהָֽאֹכֵל֙ יָצָ֣א מַאֲכָ֔ל וּמֵעַ֖ז יָצָ֣א מָת֑וֹק וְלֹ֥א יָכְל֛וּ לְהַגִּ֥יד הַחִידָ֖ה שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים:

ה  וַיֵּרֶד שִׁמְשׁוֹן וְאָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ, תִּמְנָתָה; וַיָּבֹאוּ, עַד-כַּרְמֵי תִמְנָתָה, וְהִנֵּה כְּפִיר אֲרָיוֹת, שֹׁאֵג לִקְרָאתוֹ. 5 Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnah, and came to the vineyards of Timnah; and, behold, a young lion roared against him.
ו  וַתִּצְלַח עָלָיו רוּחַ יְהוָה, וַיְשַׁסְּעֵהוּ כְּשַׁסַּע הַגְּדִי, וּמְאוּמָה, אֵין בְּיָדוֹ; וְלֹא הִגִּיד לְאָבִיו וּלְאִמּוֹ, אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. 6 And the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as one would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand; but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
ז  וַיֵּרֶד, וַיְדַבֵּר לָאִשָּׁה; וַתִּישַׁר, בְּעֵינֵי שִׁמְשׁוֹן. 7 And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.
ח  וַיָּשָׁב מִיָּמִים, לְקַחְתָּהּ, וַיָּסַר לִרְאוֹת, אֵת מַפֶּלֶת הָאַרְיֵה; וְהִנֵּה עֲדַת דְּבוֹרִים בִּגְוִיַּת הָאַרְיֵה, וּדְבָשׁ. 8 And after a while he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion; and, behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey.
ט  וַיִּרְדֵּהוּ אֶל-כַּפָּיו, וַיֵּלֶךְ הָלוֹךְ וְאָכֹל, וַיֵּלֶךְ אֶל-אָבִיו וְאֶל-אִמּוֹ, וַיִּתֵּן לָהֶם וַיֹּאכֵלוּ; וְלֹא-הִגִּיד לָהֶם, כִּי מִגְּוִיַּת הָאַרְיֵה רָדָה הַדְּבָשׁ. 9 And he scraped it out into his hands, and went on, eating as he went, and he came to his father and mother, and gave unto them, and they did eat; but he told them not that he had scraped the honey out of the body of the lion.
י  וַיֵּרֶד אָבִיהוּ, אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה; וַיַּעַשׂ שָׁם שִׁמְשׁוֹן מִשְׁתֶּה, כִּי כֵּן יַעֲשׂוּ הַבַּחוּרִים. 10 And his father went down unto the woman; and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.
יא  וַיְהִי, כִּרְאוֹתָם אוֹתוֹ; וַיִּקְחוּ שְׁלֹשִׁים מֵרֵעִים, וַיִּהְיוּ אִתּוֹ. 11 And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
יב  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם שִׁמְשׁוֹן, אָחוּדָה-נָּא לָכֶם חִידָה:  אִם-הַגֵּד תַּגִּידוּ אוֹתָהּ לִי שִׁבְעַת יְמֵי הַמִּשְׁתֶּה, וּמְצָאתֶם–וְנָתַתִּי לָכֶם שְׁלֹשִׁים סְדִינִים, וּשְׁלֹשִׁים חֲלִפֹת בְּגָדִים. 12 And Samson said unto them: ‘Let me now put forth a riddle unto you; if ye can declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of raiment;
יג  וְאִם-לֹא תוּכְלוּ, לְהַגִּיד לִי–וּנְתַתֶּם אַתֶּם לִי שְׁלֹשִׁים סְדִינִים, וּשְׁלֹשִׁים חֲלִיפוֹת בְּגָדִים; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ–חוּדָה חִידָתְךָ, וְנִשְׁמָעֶנָּה. 13 but if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of raiment.’ And they said unto him: ‘Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.’
יד  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם, מֵהָאֹכֵל יָצָא מַאֲכָל, וּמֵעַז, יָצָא מָתוֹק; וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לְהַגִּיד הַחִידָה, שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים. 14 And he said unto them: Out of the eater came forth food, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days declare the riddle.

This is for:  Perashat Bo, Ki Tisa, Shmot, Tefilin, Rosh Hashana, Passover,  Shavuot and even Hachodesh

Print Friendly, PDF & Email