Has the Vine Flowered?

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Emor 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

“Let us go early to the vineyards. Let us see if the vine has flowered, if its blossoms have opened, if the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give My love to you.” (Shir Ha-Shirim 7:13)
Let us see if the Land has begun to flower. Have we reached the stage of G-d's promise: “I will turn the desert into ponds, the arid land into springs of water” (Yeshayahu 41:18)? Let us
go out and see whether we have already merited the prophecy of, “But you, over mountains
of Israel, shall yield your produce and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for their return is
near" (Yechezkel 36:8). We entreat G-d. We want to return to the land, to the field, to the earth, to the farm, to the Kibbutz, to the village, to the Moshav. This, after all, is the well-known sign: "Rabbi Akiva said: you have no more obvious sign of the end of days than that of Yechezkel (ibid.): ‘But you, over mountains of Israel, shall yield your produce and bear your fruit for My Nation Israel, for their return is near’” (Sanhedrin 98a). Rashi explains: "When the Land of Israel yields its fruit bountifully, then the end will be near, and you have no more obvious sign of the end of days than that."
The Redemption, the Messianic Era, begins with the Land yielding its fruits. In 5641, the Land began to yield fruits for its returning sons. The end of the exile began a little more than 100 years ago. The Jewish people are waiting for the Land to yield its fruits: “Let us go early to the vineyard. Let us see if the vine has flowered, if its blossoms have opened, if the pomegranates are in bloom.” The exile is described as a time of "No grapes left on the vine, no figs on the fig tree" (Yirmiyahu 8:13). We chant these words in the Haftarah of Tisha B’Av.
One time our master, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, mentioned this verse on Tisha b'Av. He wept and said, “Now there are grapes on the vine and figs on the fig tree. Now we have reached the stage of, ‘the vine flowering, its blossoms opening, the pomegranates in bloom’.”
“There I will give my love to you”: G-d responds: "There, in the Land of Israel, I will give you My love." The great repentance of the Jewish people, the great linking up between the Master of the Universe and the Jewish people occurs in the Land of Israel (Orot Ha-Teshuva 17a). Now that the blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom, there I will give My love to you.” "The green figs form on the fig tree. The young grapes [Hebrew: Semadar] give off fragrance. Arise, my darling. My fair one, come away!" (ibid. 2:13). "The green figs form on the fig tree": There still aren't any mature figs, only unripe ones. Matters still are not complete. "The young grapes give off fragrance." The grape plants as well are very young. Rashi explains: "When the flower falls off, and the grapes become separated from one another, and each grape can be individually recognized, that is called ‘Semadar’. On the surface, this verse describes a young man enticing his fiancée to follow after him." The verse describes a young man inviting his fiancée on an outing. "Come," he says to her. "This is not the time to remain at home. The winter is over. There is fresh air outside, birds and budding plants. The green figs and young grapes are forming.” The metaphor is of God telling us, "Come! Come!" As Rashi says: “‘The green figs form on the fig tree’ – The time has come for the first fruits to be brought, that you should come into the land. ‘The young grapes give off fragrance’ – The time of wine libations is drawing near.”
G-d is saying to us, “Come to the Land of Israel.” Amongst the Jewish People there were some in despair, hardly still believing. “The Israelites left Egypt well prepared [Chamushim]” (Shemot 13:18). Rashi comments, “Only one in five [Chamesh] left Egypt.” Four out of five were not privileged to leave, because they did not believe in the Redemption. Eighty percent remained there.
In our days as well, only twenty percent of the Jewish People understand that the blossoms have budded, and those twenty percent are in the Land. Eighty percent do not understand as well, and they remain in the Diaspora. G-d is rousing us, saying, “Come! There is already a beginning. The Spring has begun.” “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, for our vineyard is in blossom” (Shir Ha-Shirim 2:15).
All the same, a problem arises. Within the Jewish people there are Jews who do harm, little foxes, small people of small faith, a small perspective lacking in wisdom and intellect, small, destructive people. "Catch us the foxes," these are foxes who ruin the vineyard, the vineyard of Israel. "Our vineyard is in blossom." Our vineyard is still in blossom. It is weak. It is only starting out. And that is the problem. Were the vineyard of Israel stronger, if they were in the full redemption, who could stand against us?! Yet everything is just starting out. It is only a blossoming. Therefore, there are small foxes who ruin it.
There are all sorts of foxes. There are Egyptian foxes, Jewish foxes, American foxes,
Russian foxes and Arab foxes. We have known many sorts of foxes in our history. Some were more powerful like Hitler. Others were small like Arafat. Compared to Hitler, Arafat was a minor fox. Some nations are foxes. There are elegant American foxes and there are also Jewish foxes. A fox is a sly but cowardly creature. Within every individual as well, there are inner, personal foxes. These are our inner passions, which sometimes ruin the vineyard -- the national vineyard, or the individual vineyard .The vineyard is in danger of ruin,especially when it is young. As Shir Ha-Shirim, Chapter 1 teaches, "My mother's sons quarreled with me. They made me guard the vineyards. My own vineyard I did not guard" (1:6). But there is no need to worry. When the vineyard becomes stronger, no fox will succeed in ruining it. When we left Egypt we were like unripe fruit. That is why we had so many problems.
And today as well, we are like unripe fruit. There is a certain logic to waiting until everyone
becomes righteous and only then to build the State, but it's not always possible to wait. The
Belzer Rebbe met Rabbi Natan Ra’anan, the son-in-law of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook, and said to him, "All the Jews we wanted to turn into saints before they came to the Land of Israel were consumed in the crematoria." You can't wait. The State of Israel today is like unripe fruit. People who are not enormous saints in Torah or in their understanding of the Land of Israel or even in mundane matters are running this country. Yet
even they will ultimately "give off fragrance". Even their deeds provide a good fragrance for
G-d. Unripe food is not the same as a fruitless shade tree. The latter will never have fruit. By
contrast, the unripe fruit will eventually ripen. You just have to wait patiently. Therefore,
unripe fruit is precious and its fragrance is good, enough so for God to tell us, "Arise my
darling! Come away!"