9 Cheshvan 5781 / Tuesday, October 27, 2020 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
 
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Precious Sprouts    

Precious Sprouts



Like everything in life, too much of anything isn’t usually a good thing. In our efforts to give our children the best, we can overdo our love and end up smothering them…

 



“Educate a child according to his path, and even when they are old, they will not depart from it.”  –Proverbs 22:6

 

I always loved having a garden in which I can grow flowers and to enjoy nature and relax. Regrettably, with all the moving we have done in recent years and being busy with kids growing up, gardening wasn’t on my priority list. The last two apartments we rented didn’t have access to any garden at all.

 

A year ago we moved into a nice apartment and although there is no garden, it has a lovely, sunny balcony overlooking gorgeous rocky hills spotted with trees and bush clusters. Most evenings, the sunset is picture-postcard perfect.  As spring rolled around, I got it in my mind to start gardening on my terrace. Unless one buys organic fruits and veggies (= expensive) we are constantly ingesting poisons from all the sprays the farmers use. As a result, I decided to grow some plants so we would have our own supply of natural and healthy produce.  I started with tomato, lemon, grapefruit, melon and apple seeds which I removed from the fruits.  With the help of a few YouTube videos, I was on my way. (Re YouTube, when used properly, internet can be beneficial but we have to be extremely careful not to let ourselves get carried away or it becomes a danger to our souls).

 

At first it was so exciting.  Everything other than the apple seeds germinated on schedule. Seeing the fresh, green shoots springing forth from the earth gave me so much pleasure. After a few weeks of growth, the tomatoes started to form flowers which eventually turned into tiny tomato buds. I was very enthused and began to investigate the laws of trumot and maasrot, the tithes one must take from fruits and vegetables grown in Israel. But lo and behold, what I thought was going to be a bumper crop became a sparse yield of one or two tomatoes per plant. To make matters worse, the leaves began turning yellow and they became infested with tiny flying bugs. (I found out later they were mold gnats from too much moisture in the earth)

 

My melon plants were also growing by leaps and bounds but as I had feared, even the large planter I had transferred them to was not big enough for their wandering vines and full roots. They too began showing signs of failure.

 

After reading up on the topic further, I realized that I had just loved my plants too much. In my passion to help them flourish, rather than leaving them alone and allowing them space to grow and giving them some ‘drying out’ time, I managed to overwater them. I also discovered that melons need open ground to reach their full potential.

 

Baruch Hashem, thank G-d, since lemon and grapefruit trees are much slower growing, they are still hanging on and making me proud (at least for now).

 

Despite my disappointment, I did learn a lot from this experience, not only about agriculture but something even more significant. We can compare sprouting these plants to raising children.

 

Like everything in life, too much of anything isn’t usually a good thing. In our efforts to give our children the best, we can overdo our love and end up smothering them. This is especially true for teens and young adults. If they feel choked, they may decide to find somewhere less confining to develop. Sometimes we have to just let them be, let them grow and just ensure that they are safe and healthy. Of course, they should always know that we are there for them and love them, yet if we exceed our limits, as with my tomatoes and melons, they will not flourish.

 

Each child is unique with his or her own set of character traits and mission in the world. As parents, we should try to help cultivate their development by setting a righteous example and pray that they emulate those qualities, but ultimately they themselves must make their own decisions and choose their own physical and spiritual paths.

 

It’s not an easy journey, especially in this day and age with all the external influences but don’t make the same mistake I made with my plants. If I had only read more about gardening BEFORE planting the seeds, I would have saved myself much frustration.

 

So even if your precious sprouts are showing signs of failing, fear not. Hashem gives us difficulties to bring us closer to him. When we are down it is only in order to help us reach greater heights.

 

“In the winter all plants and grasses die. Their strength is dissipated and they are like the dead. But when the summer comes, they awaken and return to life.”  (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom #98)

 

Inevitably, if we pray for help from Above and follow the instruction manual (Torah), the seeds we’ve sown will take root and one day produce sturdy and fruitful adults.





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