July 20, 2023 / 2 Menachem-Av, 5783 • Parshat Devarim
Issue 778
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

Ya’ir son of Manasseh took all the territory of Og’s royal palace as far as the boundaries of Geshurites and the Ma’achitites. He called Bashan after his own name, “the villages of Ya’ir,” to this day. 

Deut. 3:14

The Talmud informs us that the first choice of olives to produce oil for the Temple was those grown in the region of Tekoa, in the central mountains of the Land of Israel. The second choice was those grown near the location of the former royal palace Bashan, part of the area outside the Land of Israel proper that was conquered by Ya’ir before the Jewish people crossed the Jordan River into the land.

Allegorically, oil--the source of light--signifies Divine insight. The primary source of Divine insight is the Torah, G-d’s wisdom. Studying the Torah affords us a constant flow of new insight into reality, enabling us to progressively better understand the world and our role in it. This knowledge is allegorically represented by the olives from Tekoa, i.e., from the intrinsically holy Land of Israel. However, indirect knowledge of G-d’s ways, gleaned by observing His providence in nature and history, can also serve as a source of Divine insight, provided we observe it through the lens of the Torah.

This knowledge is allegorically represented by the olives from the region outside the Holy Land that was conquered and annexed to the Land of Israel proper.