For the second year, as part of our Synagogue's Tu B'Shevat celebration, our Torah School, in conjunction with Men's Club, is going to be planting a fig tree on the Synagogue grounds. Tu B'Shevat is considered the birthday of the trees, and planting new trees is just one of the many ways we can celebrate the holiday, demonstrating our commitment to the natural world.
There is a midrash about Honi the Circle Drawer, (Taanit 23a,) which has become somewhat associated with the holiday and our responsibility to plant trees. According to the legend, Honi was walking through the woods and came across an elderly man who was planting a carob tree. Honi mocked the man for wasting his time pointing out that he would never live to enjoy the fruit of his labor. The tree he was planting would take 70 years to grow. At which point the man responded with what I believe is one of the most beautiful lines in all of Jewish tradition. He said: "עלמא בחרובא אשכחתיה כי היכי דשתלי לי אבהתי שתלי נמי לבראי " I myself, found a world filled with carob trees. Just as my forefathers planted for me, so to, I shall plant for my children."
I want to thank the Men's Club for re-enacting this midrash in our community. We can only hope that our children's children will one day step foot in our Synagogue and enjoy the fruit from the tree that was planted a generation before them. The fig tree is just one of many different kinds of seeds that we are planting here as a community. We can only hope that the fruits of our labor will be enjoyed and relished for generations to come, but it's not easy. We need to be intentional, and innovative. Which is why it is my hope and prayer for all of us this Shabbat and beyond, that we continue to search for new and creative ways to plant seeds, so that future generations will not only benefit from the delicious fruit, but commit themselves to continue planting.