The fruit that dwells on its tree from year to year
כתפוח בעצי היער כן דודי בין הבנים וגו’
Like a tapuach in the trees of the forest, so too is my beloved amongst the children…
The gemarra asks: why does the verse liken the Jewish people to a tapuach tree? The answer is, to teach us that just like a tapuach tree has its fruit grow before its leaves, so too the Jewish people gave precedence to “we will do” over “we will listen”. While this is a nice, short, lesson, at first glance there are a couple of issues. First, the word tapuach usually refers to an apple. An apple tree does not have its fruit grow before its leaves. Like most fruit trees, the leaves come first. Consequently, some explain that the tapuach here is referring to an esrog. We see this from the verse וריח אפך כתפוחים, the scent of your breath is like tapuchim. The Aramaic translation tells us that its referring to an esrog. We see from here then that a tapuach can also refer to an esrog. This works well because the esrog tree in fact retains its fruit from year to year. When last year’s leaves fall off, new ones take their place. Thus, arriving after the fruit. However, the second question is harder to resolve. This verse, which Chazal say likens the Jewish people to an esrog, is really referring to Hashem! Why do they say it is referring to the Jewish people?