First Fruits June 2, 1995 The holiday of Shavouth honors the anniversary of the giving of the Torah to Am Yisrael. However, in the Torah, this holiday is not referred to as such; rather, it is referred to as the holiday of the first fruits. Thousands of years ago Jews living in Eretz Yisrael would parade to Jerusalem, celebrating the renewed growth of the first fruits of the year. Why should we, in the 20th century, continue to celebrate this holiday? There are many kinds of fruits. There is fruit that grows on trees, fruit that nourishes our bodies. However, there are other kinds of fruit. There is "the fruit of our stomach, ", i.e., our children, a part of ourselves, our continuance. There is "the fruit of our labor" - the results of our doings, our work. There is almost always something special about the "first" - be it the "firstborn" or the "first dollar" earned in the a new business. The first fruit of the Jewish People is the Patriarch Abraham. The first fruit in the Land of Israel is the city of Hebron. Hebron, representing the roots of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel, has nourished the spirit of the Am Yisrael throughout the centuries. But Hebron, the first capital of King David, is not only the roots, it is also the fruit. For Hebron today, the Hebron of 50 Jewish families living amidst 80,000 Arabs, is the result of the yearnings of generations. One of the major landmarks in Hebron is the tomb of Ruth and Jessie at Tel Rumeda. Ruth, the great-grandmother of David, King of Israel and grandmother to Jessie, David's father, also represents the first fruit - the desire to be a part of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. On the holiday of Shavout Jews from Hebron-Kiryat Arba gather at this ancient site, the original Hebron, and read Megilat Ruth, the story of a young woman who realized the holiness of Israel and joined the People of Israel of her own free choice. The result of her decision was the eternal Kingdom of David - "David Melech Yisrael - Chai v'kiam" - David, King of Israel, lives through eternity. David began his reign in Hebron, where he absorbed the strength and sanctity of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, preparing him to continue onward to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel. Hebron today is a continuation of the original Hebron, marking the first settlement in Judea and Samaria after the six-day war, and the springboard for the continued building and settlement in these areas. Hebron still represents the first fruit - viewed as a pioneer, to be the first, to set the example. The residents of the Jewish Community of Hebron, together with the citizens of Kiryat Arba are doing their best to fulfill this mission, the roots of which are thousands of years old. We too, are the first fruits of the return of Am Yisrael to Eretz Yisrael after 2,000 years of exile. We pray for the strength, both physical and spiritual, to be worthy of this honor and responsibility. It is from Hebron that we will continue forward to a united Jerusalem, forever. Happy Shavouth.