Tu Bishvat – Seven Species: Grapes
“The word of God came to me saying, ‘Son of Man, what will become of the vine-tree compared to any other tree, the branch that was among the trees of the forest? Can wood be taken from it to be used for productive work? Can one take a peg from it upon which to hang any article? Behold, if it were put into the fire for fuel, and the fire consumed its two ends, and its inside were charred – would it be useful for productive work? Behold, when it was whole it could not be used for productive work; how much more so when fire consumed it and it became charred – could it be put to productive work?’” (Ezekiel 15:1-5)
Israel is the ‘vine’ that God uprooted from Egypt and planted in His Holy Land. (Psalms 80:9) Over the vineyard in which He planted it, God expended love and care in the hope that it would produce the luscious grapes for which it had such rich potential. (Isaiah 5:1-3)
The vine is unique among fruit-bearing trees. All others have a value independent of their fruit. Their wood is strong and pliant and can be put to many uses. The vine alone stands or falls by the harvest that it produces. Its fruit are the noblest of all, but if they fail, there is nothing left. Its wood is unsuitable for any purpose.
For Israel, there can be no secular existence. Its body is doomed to destruction unless it produces the fruit of holiness. (Artscroll Yechezkail, Rabbi Moshe Eisemann)