By Nachum Mohl
You might be surprised as to what a tree could tell us. Have you ever considered a tree as a teacher? Well it just might be.
When you look at a tree, what do you see? The first thing that you see is the leaves. Have you ever wondered how many leaves does a tree have? Much more than a hundred and more than a thousand. But we do not consider the individual leaves as particularly important unless we need a bit of shade on a hot sunny day, and then it is the leaves collectively that are important. But to a tree the leaves are important; if they were not important G-d would not create them.
Leaves are the 'solar panels' that pick up the sun's energy from the sunlight and converts them to energy that gives the tree power to grow. The leaves also 'inhale' our carbon dioxide and monoxide and give back to us pure oxygen.
Every year in the fall the leaves begin to dry up and eventually fall off of the tree. During the winter months the tree is barren and appears dead, but it is only hibernating. In the spring the new leaves begin to sprout. They have a light green shade and as the summer months pass they turn darker green. During their life on the tree, they give 'life' to the tree and enable it to grow. When the summer months of sunny days pass, the leave again wither and die.
Some leaves are on the top of the tree, high above our sight. They catch more light from the sun than the leaves on the bottom of the tree. Some leaves get shorn off early in the season and never are able to effect any growth in the tree. Others begin to wither early in the season, whilst other seem to last right into the winter.
The leaves are only there for one season; once the season ends, the leaves wither and die. Some earlier than others; some later. Some are able to absorb more sunlight, other less. But we do not attach any particular importance to one leave over the other. To us humans, what is important is that there be many leaves and that the tree grow.
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Jews are like leaves in a way. Judaism is compared to a tree: The Torah is the tree of life. We individual Jews are all related to this tree. Some of us seem to get better positions in life than others, some hang in the dark never understanding life. Some are taken from us early in the season; others seem to last much longer - but we all perish after our time of use is passed.
We enable the tree of Judaism to grow, to become greater with each passing year. Our time is limited, our purpose defined by the Torah. If we are able to cling to the tree, we are able to grow with it. If we are shorn off early, then...
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We give the next generation a better place, a warmer place and we hope that the next generation will improve also on what they inherit. We can learn much from the world around us, even from the trees.
from the November 2011 Edition of the Jewish Magazine