Some interesting facts about olive-trees/ olive-oil from parashat Tetzave and this week Emor

There are actually nine grades of olive oil.

See the piece of text from yalkut ME’AM LO’EZ

[translated by rabbi ARYE KAPLAN z”l]

For those studying mishnayot: see menahot chapter 8 ,mishna 4

God told Moses, “Let [the Israelites] bring you clear illuminating oil, made from hand-crushed olives. . .”God had commanded Moses to make the menorah as a lamp. Now God is telling Moses what kind of oil to use and when the menorah should be lit. The previous portion spoke of “oil for the lamp” (Exodus 25:6), but now the Torah specifies that the oil had to be “clear, hand-crushed olive oil.”

The first thing that this teaches is that only olive oil could be used in the menorah, not any other kind. One reason for this is because olive oil burns with a very clear bright light, more so than any other type of oil. It also is drawn up in the wick better than other oils. It is for this reason that it is best to kindle the Sabbath lamp with olive oil.

It is therefore taught that if one sees olive oil in a dream, he should anticipate wisdom. This refers to the light of the Torah, which is the greatest of all lights. The Torah specifies that the oil for the menorah must be hand-crushed (katit). It cannot be crushed in a mortar or a press.

There are actually nine grades of olive oil.

The only difference is in how they are made.

Three times a year olives are harvested from the tree.

They are not harvested all at once since different olives ripen at different times. There are some olives that ripen very quickly.

These are the ones at the top of the tree, which receive the most sunlight.

These olives are harvested first, and three grades of oil are pressed from them.

At first the olives are crushed and placed in a perforated basket so that the oil runs through the perforations. This oil is perfectly clear without any sediment. This is the “first oil.”

The olives are then removed from the basket and placed in the oil press where the “second oil” is pressed from them.

Finally, they are removed from the press and placed in a mortar. The oil that is removed at this stage is the “third oil.” Of all these grades of oil, only the first oil from the olives at the top of the tree is suitable for the menorah.

The oil that is extracted in the press or mortar cannot be used.

When the Torah specifies “hand-pressed” oil, it is speaking of the first oil. Such oil runs out of the olives on its own and therefore is completely free of sediment.

However, if the oil is pressed or the olives are crushed in a mortar, it is impossible that the oil be without sediment.

The second harvest is taken from the olives that are in the middle of the tree.

These olives do not receive as much sunlight as those at the top of the tree. After these are harvested, they are spread out on rooftops for the sun to heat them, and then the same three grades of oil mentioned earlier are extracted. Oil from such olives can also be used, but here too only the first oil, but not the second or third oil.

Although these three grades of oil are made in the same manner as he first three, they do not produce as much light as the oil from the first harvest. The olives from the first harvest ripen on the tree while those from the second harvest must be ripened on the roof.

The third harvest is taken from the olives on the bottom of the tree where the sun hardly reaches at all. 

These olives cannot ripen on the tree and therefore after they are harvested they are placed in a vat to age. They are kept there until they ferment, and then they are placed in the sun to dry. Once this process is finished, a similar three grades of oil can be extracted from the olives.

From this, also, only the first oil which runs out by itself, can be used for the menorah, and not the second or third oil.

Therefore, of the nine grades of oil only the first, the fourth, and the seventh can be used for the menorah since these are considered “hand-pressed.” The other grades cannot be used for the menorah, but they may be used for meal offerings. (Leviticus 2:1 ff)

The Torah therefore says that the oil must be “hand-pressed for the lamp.”

Only for the lamp must the oil be hand-pressed, but for meal offerings any olive oil is usable even if it is extracted by pressing or crushing.

Although the first oil of all three harvests can be used for the menorah and all nine grades can be used for meal offerings, there are still differences among them.

The oil from the first harvest is that which provides the clearest, brightest light. After this comes oil from the second harvest, and then that from the third harvest.

With regard to meal offerings, there are also differences among the nine grades of oil. The second oil from the first harvest and the first oil from the second harvest are considered equal and of the same quality.

Likewise, the third oil from the first harvest, the second from the second, and the first from the third, are considered equal. Similarly, the third from the second, and the second from the third are considered equal, without any difference between them.

The lowest quality of all is the third oil from the third harvest.

Although all nine grades can be used for meal offerings (menachot), the Mishnah separates them into different levels of quality. This is because when a person wishes to donate something for a holy cause, he must give the best he can. Obviously, if a person gives a gift to the king he will give the very best. Similarly, when a person gives money to charity, he should try to give good coins.

etc [rest of text left out by me]

There are actually nine grades of olive oil.

See the piece of text from yalkut ME’AM LO’EZ

[translated by rabbi ARYE KAPLAN z”l]

For those studying mishnayot: see menahot chapter 8 ,mishna 4

God told Moses, “Let [the Israelites] bring you clear illuminating oil, made from hand-crushed olives. . .”God had commanded Moses to make the menorah as a lamp. Now God is telling Moses what kind of oil to use and when the menorah should be lit. The previous portion spoke of “oil for the lamp” (Exodus 25:6), but now the Torah specifies that the oil had to be “clear, hand-crushed olive oil.”

The first thing that this teaches is that only olive oil could be used in the menorah, not any other kind. One reason for this is because olive oil burns with a very clear bright light, more so than any other type of oil. It also is drawn up in the wick better than other oils. It is for this reason that it is best to kindle the Sabbath lamp with olive oil.

It is therefore taught that if one sees olive oil in a dream, he should anticipate wisdom. This refers to the light of the Torah, which is the greatest of all lights. The Torah specifies that the oil for the menorah must be hand-crushed (katit). It cannot be crushed in a mortar or a press.

There are actually nine grades of olive oil.

The only difference is in how they are made.

Three times a year olives are harvested from the tree.

They are not harvested all at once since different olives ripen at different times. There are some olives that ripen very quickly.

These are the ones at the top of the tree, which receive the most sunlight.

These olives are harvested first, and three grades of oil are pressed from them.

At first the olives are crushed and placed in a perforated basket so that the oil runs through the perforations. This oil is perfectly clear without any sediment. This is the “first oil.”

The olives are then removed from the basket and placed in the oil press where the “second oil” is pressed from them.

Finally, they are removed from the press and placed in a mortar. The oil that is removed at this stage is the “third oil.” Of all these grades of oil, only the first oil from the olives at the top of the tree is suitable for the menorah.

The oil that is extracted in the press or mortar cannot be used.

When the Torah specifies “hand-pressed” oil, it is speaking of the first oil. Such oil runs out of the olives on its own and therefore is completely free of sediment.

However, if the oil is pressed or the olives are crushed in a mortar, it is impossible that the oil be without sediment.

The second harvest is taken from the olives that are in the middle of the tree.

These olives do not receive as much sunlight as those at the top of the tree. After these are harvested, they are spread out on rooftops for the sun to heat them, and then the same three grades of oil mentioned earlier are extracted. Oil from such olives can also be used, but here too only the first oil, but not the second or third oil.

Although these three grades of oil are made in the same manner as he first three, they do not produce as much light as the oil from the first harvest. The olives from the first harvest ripen on the tree while those from the second harvest must be ripened on the roof.

The third harvest is taken from the olives on the bottom of the tree where the sun hardly reaches at all. 

These olives cannot ripen on the tree and therefore after they are harvested they are placed in a vat to age. They are kept there until they ferment, and then they are placed in the sun to dry. Once this process is finished, a similar three grades of oil can be extracted from the olives.

From this, also, only the first oil which runs out by itself, can be used for the menorah, and not the second or third oil.

Therefore, of the nine grades of oil only the first, the fourth, and the seventh can be used for the menorah since these are considered “hand-pressed.” The other grades cannot be used for the menorah, but they may be used for meal offerings. (Leviticus 2:1 ff)

The Torah therefore says that the oil must be “hand-pressed for the lamp.”

Only for the lamp must the oil be hand-pressed, but for meal offerings any olive oil is usable even if it is extracted by pressing or crushing.

Although the first oil of all three harvests can be used for the menorah and all nine grades can be used for meal offerings, there are still differences among them.

The oil from the first harvest is that which provides the clearest, brightest light. After this comes oil from the second harvest, and then that from the third harvest.

With regard to meal offerings, there are also differences among the nine grades of oil. The second oil from the first harvest and the first oil from the second harvest are considered equal and of the same quality.

Likewise, the third oil from the first harvest, the second from the second, and the first from the third, are considered equal. Similarly, the third from the second, and the second from the third are considered equal, without any difference between them.

The lowest quality of all is the third oil from the third harvest.

Although all nine grades can be used for meal offerings (menachot), the Mishnah separates them into different levels of quality. This is because when a person wishes to donate something for a holy cause, he must give the best he can. Obviously, if a person gives a gift to the king he will give the very best. Similarly, when a person gives money to charity, he should try to give good coins .etc [rest of text left out by me]