Rabbi Dovid S. Polter, JSL Community Chaplain
A Seed of Wisdom
The holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees, (Jan.17th) celebrates the reawakening of the plant kingdom each spring. On a deeper level, this corresponds to the human potential for periodic growth and self-renewal, for continual advancement in the quest for spiritual enlightenment. From everything a person observes, he can harvest information that adds to his wisdom. This includes such commonplace occurrences as the blossoming of a tree.
Trees, like most species in the plant kingdom, consist of three distinct parts: the roots, the body (trunk, branches and leaves), and the fruit (a peel or shell, the fruit itself and its seeds). Some observations can be made from the differences between these parts.
The roots, although completely hidden from view, draw in the tree’s primary life-force. It is only through its root system that a tree achieves physical stability; if its roots are strong, the tree will not be uprooted, despite all the winds blowing against it.
The body of the tree comprises the trunk, which provides its main source of balance. Over time, the trunk, branches and leaves thicken, also adding to the body. The tree’s age can thus be determined from the rings in the trunk.
However, the ultimate perfection of a tree, and its route to immortality, comes through the production of fruit. Within each seed lies the potential to germinate a new tree, generation after generation.
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Rabbi Dovid S. Polter Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program Jewish Senior Life
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