This Week at Midreshet Moriah
Parshat Beshalach February 8, 13 Shevat
Shemoneh Esrei "Plus" with Michal:
We learned the 9th bracha of the Shemoneh Esrei - Barech Aleinu . We discussed the meaning of the bracha and its blessing of the land as well as its connection to the upcoming holiday of Tu Bishvat.
Heroes and Heroines in Tanach with Sepha:
We were learning about Rachel and what she was willing to do in desperation for children: threatening Yaakov, bringing in a surrogate or turning to the duda'im as a home remedy.
Devar Torah:
Neima Novetsky
Our Beit Midrash
Shiur Klali
with Robby Berman of the Halachic Organ Donation Society
Sephardic Halachah and Customs
taught by Rav Amir Dadon
Medical Ethics
taught by Rav Uri Cohen
Article Published by Rav Eitan Mayer in the Tu Bishvat Edition of Hamizrachi
...........////////// Lessons from My Garden
............................... Rabbi Eitan Mayer
A few years ago, I started growing berries in my garden – strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. I kept my expectations low. Between the Gush Etzion cold, the Neve Daniel wind, Israel’s punishing summer sun, armies of hungry Middle Eastern bugs, and my own spotty record in the garden, I was hoping for a few edible berries. In the end, my crop exceeded all my expectations. And I’m not even talking about the berries.
I grew up thinking that Tu Bi-Shvat was when Jews gnawed sadly on “ bukser” (dried carob pods) from Eretz Yisrael. It was Israel, I guess, but it wasn’t exactly flowing with milk and honey, so I was thrilled when my own garden in Eretz Yisrael began to produce sweet, edible treats. And Chazal tell us that there is no clearer sign of the redemption than Eretz Yisrael’s offering her delicious fruits to her returning children ( Sanhedrin 98a).
That would have been more than enough for me. But the unexpected “bonus crop” was the lessons my garden has yielded about how to be a better person, a better Jew, and even a better teacher. Let me share some of what I’ve learned.
Work for it: We’ve all probably eaten some good pineapple. But when my first pineapple grew and ripened right here in my yard, it was not just pineapple, it was a pineapple miracle, months of watching with wonder (disbelief?) as something so exotic actually grew, ripened, turned a luminous yellow, and was ready to eat. The lesson? Don’t compromise, don’t hold back, and don’t wait for pineapples to fall magically from the sky. Savor the amazing feeling of accomplishment of doing things yourself and doing them right. Being spoon-fed will never taste as good as the fruit you worked to produce.
Commitment. Sometimes, planting means depositing a sapling in a field and then getting back on the bus and disappearing forever. But I learned what happens when we “set it and forget it.” I set up a system to water my garden automatically, but then I didn’t check whether it was still watering a few months later. Only once the plants were literally dying did I finally realize that the batteries had died.
We need to plant and then stay committed. In all growth in life, if we “set it and forget it,” we’ll find that while we were away, the batteries ran out and the weeds arrived uninvited. The garden we planted with such excitement and investment is long gone, replaced by a jungle.
Final lesson: Being wrong. My garden taught me how to be happy to be wrong. Time and again, I would decide that a plant was dead – and then watch, surprised and thrilled, as it shot out new leaves and beautiful flowers. Not only did I learn not to give up on plants (and people) so quickly, I also learned to be humble about my opinions and ready to learn that I’m wrong. Being ready to be wrong is another way of saying being ready to learn, to grow, and to experience wonder.
We’ve come a long way since “ bukser.” May we soon merit the full redemption… and until then, may we enjoy sweet fruit from our gardens and a generous crop of wisdom and insight.
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