This Shabbat we will be celebrating the New Year for Trees, Tu-B’Shvat. Since the Torah compares Man to “a tree of the field,” our tradition collected nine lessons from the mystics that we can learn from trees.
1) Always Grow Towards the Light - As we go through life, we must always move towards holiness and light, reaching ever higher for that which is beyond us.
2)Even the Smallest Scratch Can have Lasting Effects - A seemingly small scratch on a young sapling can leave a lasting scar on the fully grown tree. Think, then, about how critical the formative years are, and how careful we must be when educating our children to do good.
3) Grow Deep Roots - As we grow, we must remain connected to our source, God. How do we bind to God? By doing Mitzvahs! When we perform a Mitzvah, we are creating a bond with God. The Mishnah says: “One whose deeds are greater than his wisdom, to what is he compared? To a tree with many roots and few branches, which all the storms in the world cannot budge from its place.”
4) Provide Refuge for Others - Just as a tree selflessly provides shade and shelter, be a source of comfort for others and provide resources for those in need.
5) Grow Sweet Fruits for Others to Enjoy - Beyond providing shade, a tree also bears fruit. Proactively reach out to others; bring sweetness and sustenance into their lives.
6) Let Your Leaves Return to the Earth - Just as the leaves of a tree fall to the earth to enrich the soil, we must give back to the world to sustain others.
7) Be Limber in the Wind - Only a tree that can bend in the wind will survive a storm. Likewise, we must be accepting of what God sends, never breaking or giving up hope.
8) Grow Stronger Through Your Life Experiences - Just as the rings of a tree record its growth, through years of drought and rain, fire and calm, so too, must we continue to grow, always adding another level of wisdom learned from the experiences of life.
9) Be Impactful - Trees don’t only provide immediate benefits like shade, wood, and food, they enrich the ecosystem, filter the air, and give off oxygen. Give oxygen to the world by making a lasting impact on the people around you and the world .
About Rabbi Miriam
Rabbi Miriam E. Hamrell MHL, M.Ed., has served as our religious and spiritual leader at Ahavat Torah Congregation and helped it grow since it was founded in 2003.