I was reading a little about the history of the holiday, which through me into some deep thoughts (I do have them every once in a while…you know…)
I was thinking about how I used to want to own a house so I could plant a tree and watch it grow as I watch my family grow. In my thoughts I was actually more greedy in hoping for no less than an orchard with all the fruit trees I love. With the rate we are moving I will have to wait with that hope for just a little longer and settle with an herb garden...for now.
When I think of trees I think of past present and future.
I think of a sense of belonging, of something that is bigger than me and will last longer than me. I think of something that nurtures with fruit and cradles with shelter.
When I lived in New England I used to love the bare trees in the winter, I was fascinated with seeing their exposed structure. (I was an architecture student back then, I am sure that explains it)
Now, being a practical mom and living in a hot climate, I like trees that give lots of shade and relief from the hot sun.
I read a great little story that I wanted to share with you.
I found it on the Keren Keyemeth le- Israel the Jewish National Fund web site
What We Can Learn from the Carob Tree
“Over time, carobs became very identified with Tu Bishvat. To this day, Jews in the Diaspora eat carobs from Israel on Tu Bishvat as a means of experiencing their connection to the Land of Israel. Here is an interpretation of a Talmudic legend that teaches us what we can learn from the carob tree. In tractate Ta’anit, the Talmud tells us about Honi Hame’agel, who was befuddled all his days by the biblical verse: “When God returned the exiles to Zion, we were as dreamers.” Honi could not understand – this verse refers to the Babylonian exile, which lasted seventy years. Can a man dream for seventy years?
Once he was walking on the road, and he saw someone planting a carob tree. Honi said to him: This tree that you are planting, when will it bear fruit? The man answered: Seventy years from now. Honi retorted: Do you think you will be alive seventy years from now? The man responded: When I was born, I found a world full of carob trees. Just as my ancestors planted trees for me, so too, I plant for my children.”
Honi understood the biblical verse as referring to the exile. When we returned to Israel, the entire time of the exile seemed like a dream. This is what Honi could not understand: How could seventy years be like a dream? Life goes on, things happen both to individuals and to a people.
Honi received his answer from the man who was planting the carob tree. Since the carob tree bears fruit seventy years after it was planted, the planter will not eat of its fruit. Even so, he toils and cares for it. From his answer, Honi understood that the time of exile is not just a time of waiting. Just like the carob – from the time it is planted until its fruit is ripe, it is busy. Roots delve deep in to the earth, and branches reach for the skies. Complex botanical processes are taking place until it reaches the stage when it is ready to bear fruit. At that point, it becomes clear that everything that went on during the past 70 years was absolutely necessary. Honi learned from the carob tree that planting has intrinsic value, even for someone who will not eat of its fruit. The process that eventually leads to the fruit bearing time has great value in and of its own”.
How about planting a tree this Tu Bishvat, you can do it in your back yard, in Israel, in California or in other places too.