Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Shomron; People will plant and live to enjoy it. Jeremiah 31: 4 (The Israel Bible ™)
Wine is mentioned by the prophets as a sign of the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel. One Israeli winegrower experiences this fulfillment of the prophecy.
Eyal Tsair, a wine merchant at the Golan Heights Winery, combines three of his greatest passions in his work: wine, Torah and the Land of Israel. For Tsair, wine has certainly played an important, if not a prophetic role in his aliyah (immigration to Israel). When he arrived in Germany in 1991, he started working at the Golan Heights Winery in 1993 after completing his service in the Israel Defense Force.
For Tsair it is clear that making wine is much more than making a drink. He believes that, contained in his bottles, the most powerful evidence is that the Jewish people have returned to their Biblical homeland.
"Several prophets speak specifically about grape vines as part of the return of the Jews to the land of Israel," Tsair said to Breaking Israel news. "What is so special about grapes? Why did the prophets not talk about wheat or herds of cattle?" When the prophets describe a return to Israel incorporating vines, they described a specific type of return, one that will be permanent.
"In a bottle of wine is proof that the Jews have returned to Israel in a meaningful and permanent way," continued Tsair. "It takes many years before you enjoy the wine, and after you plant a vine, you have to wait four years Orla." Orla (literally & # 39; uncut & # 39;) refers to the ban on eating the fruit of a tree planted in Israel for the first three years. When the temple exists, the fruit of the fourth year may be eaten in Jerusalem.
When you enter the land and plant a tree for food, you will consider its fruit as forbidden. For three years it is forbidden for you not to be eaten. In the fourth year, all of its fruit will be set aside earlier to cheer Hashem. Leviticus 19:23
"Even after we have harvested the grapes, the old red wine has been in the barrel for two years," Tsair explained. "Planting vines is a long-term investment, it is only for those who are really connected to the country and who are planning to stay here for many years."
For Golan Heights Winery, this process was even longer and more unclear. Planting their first vines in 1976 was a leap of faith. The northern Golan height of Israel was conquered in the Six Day War of 1967, but the region was only annexed in 1981 by the Israeli government. The still to be harvested vineyards were almost lost when Syria overwhelmed the region in the Yom Kippur war in 1973. The first Golan wine was produced in 1983 and immediately received international awards.
The winery has invested heavily in the Golan, based on the belief that the prophetic return of the Jews to the region is permanent. They currently harvest more than 1200 hectares of vineyards. Their yield of 5.5 million bottles of wine per year is relatively low, because they emphasize quality over quantity.
Tsair contrasted this long-term investment with the way others deal with the Land.
"It's true that the Arabs were here, but they went on with their herds, consumed everything in their path and then went on," Tsair said, "Goats tear out the roots and leave the land infertile. That is not how the true owner of the Land acts. There is no personal investment. "
Tsair compared this to the judgment of King Solomon between two women who claim that one baby is theirs. Solomon offered to cut the baby in half and give half of each half. The real mother refused because her love for her child made it unbearable to inflict any harm on her baby.
"Everywhere you go in Israel, you can see the love that the Jewish people have for the Land," Tsair said. "The Arabs claim that they are theirs, but if there is a dispute right now in the south of Israel, they do not hesitate to burn everything."
Tsair emphasized that wine production always flourished when there was a Jewish presence in Israel.
"Grapes are one of seven species that receive a special blessing in the Bible," he noted.
A land of wheat and barley, vines, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey. Deuteronomy 8: 8
"This special blessing was evident in Roman times when wine from Israel was highly praised as the best in the world," Tsair explained. "Wine has always been part of the Jewish presence in Israel, especially here in the Golan."
Tsair presented to Breaking Israel news a map scattered with old wine presses discovered by archaeologists in the Golan.
"Unfortunately, we no longer have the original varieties of vines," he said. "During 1300 years of Muslim domination in the region, the production of wine was forbidden."
Tsair has a passion for wine and even has a small winery at his home in Migdal on the shores of Galilee. He is still waiting for the ultimate expression of his skills as winemaker.
"I am here for the whole trip," Tsair said. "It is my dream that one day I can bring my best wine to the temple."