Open the bottle, close your eyes, and inhale deeply the intoxicating bouquet of the wine. Discover the secret – the hidden enigma of “Yaar Levanon,” in English simply the “White Forest,” and the name of the winery in French, “La Forêt Blanche.”
The Temple that stood 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem was known as the “House of the White Forest,” as it symbolized G-d’s forgiveness of Israel’s sins. White represents purity, hope, mercy and grace, bleaching out our impurities. The expression “Levanon” describes the premium wines that were offered in the Temple.
In his Song of Songs, King Solomon writes of “the house of the wine” which, according to traditional sources, refers to the Temple: “He brought me into the house of the wine, and expressed his love for me.”
The officials responsible for sourcing the finest wine in the Holy Land for the Temple knew that it was produced deep in the Hebron Hills, the economic and spiritual heartland of Israel in the region settled by the Tribe of Judah. Judah was the leading tribe in Israel and was destined to found the monarchy from within its ranks. Judah, son of Jacob and Leah, had received his father’s blessing and had inherited this rich, fertile, vine-growing and supreme wine-producing territory.
The Temple in Jerusalem symbolizes the focal point for the world where man and G-d can interact, between the dimensions of physical matter and the spirit, between the body and the soul. As a consequence of this, the Levite priests serving in the Temple wore white – a positive omen for mercy, purity and love – and would pour the libation of wine to symbolize the paramount connection linking these worlds.
The surname Livni is mentioned in the Torah as one of the Levite family names. Hebron and Yatir are listed among the cities designated for the Levites in the Book of Joshua. The Sde Kalev vineyard planted by the Livni family, among the founders of La Forêt Blanche Winery, produces the winery’s premier wine which you are tasting.
Wine in Jewish tradition is not merely a flavorful beverage enjoyed as part of a delightful meal, but one with its own spiritual dimension of joy and holiness. Wine accompanies the Jewish life cycle, playing a central role almost from birth at the brit milah ceremony, and on Sabbaths, Jewish holidays, and joyous family occasions, at every wedding and even while comforting mourners.
As the Talmud reminds us, it is inconceivable to celebrate our festivals “unless accompanied with both wine and meat,” all the while reminding us that a drunkard is not counted in a prayer quorum or allowed to enter the Temple precincts. On Purim, one is encouraged to drink alcohol until one is inebriated to a level where one cannot differentiate between evil Haman and righteous Mordechai, though as before accompanied by a warning not to become inebriated to the degree that King Ahasuerus and Haman did in the Book of Esther, or Noah and Lot in the Book of Genesis.
Already in Genesis, wine’s alcoholic properties were well known to early mankind, and Noah took pains to ensure a supply of the best vines along with him in the Ark so that he could use them as an offering to G-d after the flood had subsided. Ultimately, though, Noah faltered, drank the wine, and became drunk and debauched.
Wine’s spiritual attributes are holiness, joy and an inner, soulful light – in beauty, mercy, and bringing people together, taking part in the Jewish family’s life cycle throughout the year.
There is an ancient Jewish tradition that ties together wine, poetry and music.
“One does not declaim poetry but accompanied by wine” (Talmud Berakhot).
The wine offerings in the Temple and the libations to the Deity were accompanied by Levite song. During the libation ceremony, the Levites would stand on the fifteen steps between the Court of the Israelites and the Court of the Women and would recite psalms, thanksgiving and praise to G-d, accompanied by musical instruments.
“Why is the Temple called ‘the forest’? The reason is that just as a forest blossoms and produces fruit, so does the Temple flourish and provide nourishment.” According to tradition, when Solomon built the First Temple, he planted many rare and precious trees that grew and provided golden fruit. The wind would cause the golden fruit to fall from the trees to the ground.
The mere taste of the Wine of Levanon allows you to experience a hint of the flavor once created for the Temple in Jerusalem.
Open the bottle, close your eyes, take a deep breath of the wine’s heady bouquet, and discover the secret – the secret of the white forest. Savor the anticipation, the love, joy, light, spirit, benevolence and blessing that it embodies.
Become familiar with the winery’s individual wines named for the different aspects and wonders of the Temple – Yaar Levanon, Dvir and Talpiot.
LeChaim! (To Life!)