One of the most gratifying experiences I have had with people of our congregation is to plant tree saplings in Israel with our own hands. With mud under our fingernails, you can’t help but feel that you have contributed to the growth and greening of what was once a barren desert.
Many of us will recall that as children, come the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, we would purchase and dedicate a tree in Israel. And of course the joke: “will I one day be able to go to Israel and see my tree?” And we know that that with the millions of trees that have been planted during these generations, that it is impossible to find “my” tree, even as I sense that that we all have a great stake in all of the trees that have brought life to a barren land.
Tu B’Shevat comes each year at this time of year, and celebrates “The New Year of Trees.” This year the holiday falls on Thursday. It is at this time that some of Israel’s trees begin to turn green and we can see the first buds of spring. So is this a time of celebration and promise.
At our services tonight, we will have Israel Tree forms whereby you can purchase and dedicate a tree in honor or in memory of a dear one. And if you cannot make it to our Shabbat service, this link to the Jewish National Fund will enable you to purchase and dedicate a tree and join in the effort of further developing our cherished spiritual homeland.
Our sages tell of an old man who was planting a tree. A young boy approached him and said: “Old man, don’t you realize that you will never see this tree grow tall and strong?” And the old man responded: “Just as there were tall and beautiful trees in this world when I was a little child, so I want to make certain that there will be beautiful trees for those children yet to be born.
I hope you will share in this Mitzvah of life and promise. And if not already, then one day with your own hands.
Rabbi David Greenberg