THE PRODUCE OF ERETZ YISRAEL (cont.)
R. Avira and R. Yosi bar Chanina came to a certain place. They were served peaches measuring eight Sa'im. They ate a third, declared a third ownerless, and gave a third to their animals.
The next year R. Elazar went there. Upon seeing the fruit, he cited "The fruitful land has become a salty (unfertile) land, from the evil of its inhabitants."
R. Yehoshua ben Levi went to Gavla. He saw grape clusters the size of calves. He bewailed, 'Eretz (Yisrael), take in your fruit! For whom are you producing? For those who stand against us because of our sins?!'
R. Chiya went there the next year; the clusters were like goats. The inhabitants asked him to leave, lest he make a similar request.
(Beraisa): When Eretz Yisrael was blessed, the area in which one sows one Se'ah of seed produced 50,000 Korin (a Kor is about 300 liters). When Tzo'an was settled such an area produced 70 Kor.
(Beraisa - R. Meir): I saw that in Beis She'an such an area produced 70 Korin.
The best land in Chutz la'Aretz is Mitzrayim - "Like the garden of Hash-m, like Mitzrayim." The best area in Mitzrayim is Tzo'an. "Ki Hayu b'Tzo'an Sarav", there they raised kings;
The worst part of Eretz Yisrael is Chevron; it was used for a burial site. Still, it was seven times better than Tzo'an - "Chevron was built seven years before Tzo'an".
Question: What does this mean?
Suggestion: It was built seven years earlier.
Rejection: A person (Cham) would not build a residence for his younger son (Kena'an) before building for his older son (Mitzrayim)!
Answer: Rather, it was seven times better.
This applies to the muddy parts of Eretz Yisrael. The other parts produced 500 Korin.
In times of Berachah, it produces 100 times more.
(Beraisa - R. Yosi): One Se'ah of grain in Yehudah used to produce five Sa'im: one Se'ah of flour, one Se'ah of fine flour, one Se'ah of bran, one Se'ah Morsan (bran that leaves the sifter later), and one Se'ah of inferior flour.
A Kara'ite praised Eretz Yisrael: I inherited an area for seeding one Se'ah. I get from it oil, wine, grain, legumes and pasture for my cattle.
An Emori (of the seven nations originally in Eretz Yisrael) was boasting to a Yisrael that he used to harvest 120 Korin from a date tree on the bank of the Jordan.
He mistakenly thought that the Yisrael harvested less.
(Rav Chisda): Eretz Yisrael is compared to a deer. Just like the skin of a deer cannot hold the flesh (after flaying), also Eretz Yisrael cannot hold its abundance of produce.
Also, just like a deer is the quickest animal, Eretz Yisrael is the quickest land to ripen its produce.
Suggestion: Perhaps just like a deer is swift but not fatty, also Eretz Yisrael is quick to ripen produce, but they are not fat!
Rejection: "Flowing with milk and honey" - they are fatter than milk and sweeter than honey.
THE DEARNESS OF ERETZ YISRAEL
When R. Elazar came to Eretz Yisrael, he said 'I was saved from one curse.' When he was ordained, he said 'I was saved from a second.' When he was taught the secret of declaring leap months, he said 'I was saved from a third.' (We now explain the curses.)
"In the secret of My nation they will not sit" is the secret of declaring leap months. "They will not be written among Beis Yisrael" is ordination. "To the land of Yisrael they will not come" is understood simply.
When R. Zeira was coming to Eretz Yisrael, he did not find a ferry. He crossed on a narrow beam with a rope above for support.
A Kara'ite: You are a hasty nation. You put your mouths before your ears (Na'aseh v'Nishma), and you are still in your haste!
R. Zeira: Moshe and Aharon did not merit to enter this land. Who says that I will merit to enter it?! (Surely, I must seize the chance!)
R. Aba used to kiss the rocks of Ako. R. Chanina would level places where one might stumble (lest people disparage the roads). R. Ami and R. Asi would go to a shady or sunny area, according to the weather (to prevent complaints).
R. Chiya bar Gamda would roll in the dirt - "Your servants love its stones and its dirt."
(R. Zeira): In the generation in which Mashi'ach ben David will come, there will be accusations against the Chachamim.
(Shmuel): There will be decrees upon decrees.
(Rav Yosef): There will be looters upon looters.
(R. Chiya bar Ashi): In the future, all barren trees in Eretz Yisrael will bear fruit - "The tree will bear its fruit, the date tree and vine will give their strength".